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Vet Bill

September 17th, 2014 at 03:56 am

I drove on the school field trip yesterday. Oh my gosh did I get lucky - I had three girls in my car and they were all super polite, funny, fun to drive with.

The field trip was to the animal shelter (not the one in our town, but one about half an hour away) because that’s the fourth grade service project for the year: they volunteer helping the animals in the shelter on weekends, make dog biscuits to sell and then the money goes to the shelter.

Anyway, the woman who showed us around asked the kids about what responsibilities you take on when you have pets. They thought of everything except the one that was in my head: taking your pets to the vet. Someone (I think an adult) finally said it!

Anyway, it was in my mind because our dog has been itchy, and she's scratched and gnawed at herself for about a week now. Nothing has helped. So I took her to the vet today... She has allergies! I went home $120 poorer and with three medications for her (two for allergies and one for the bacterial infection she got from irritating her skin so much).

This is what the "pets" budget is for. For some reason I rarely see that in people's budgets. Do you have a budget for pet food, vet visits, regular medications like heartworm? (We also go to a local pet store once every two months or so and pay $16 to use their large metal tub to give her a bath - way less expensive than a groomer and we use their shampoo, towels, tub - our dog is kind of big! - so that's in the budget, too). If you have a pet budget, how much do you allocate per pet?

Folk Art Market - A Volunteer Weekend

July 15th, 2014 at 08:16 pm

The great thing about volunteering all weekend is that I didn't have many chances to spend any money. I did buy a fresh juice (for me) and an ice cream (for F) up at Market. We were volunteering for three days straight, and felt like we needed a treat! B

ut I brought our lunches, and I didn't buy anything at Folk Art Market (aren't you proud of me?). There were some beautiful things, but I wasn't tempted because I just don't want any more stuff.

Got a free tshirt, and so did F and so did D (we all volunteered). Perfect bed-shirt!

And I made some friends, got to help some people, had fun.



Another Snowflake to our Mortgage

July 10th, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Another snowflake! I got paid by the gym for May (yes, May; he said June is coming soon) - so $70 toward the mortgage principal. We now owe $70,383. Next month we'll be in the $60k's - so happy!

Tonight we're going to have dinner (tacos with guacamole - I copied the recipe down from Gabriel's which has the BEST guacamole - have been using this recipe for years). And then we're going out to see the Folk Art Market artists' procession (free!). After the procession there is an African band, so we'll all be dancing!

I'll be at Folk Art Market all weekend, working (as a volunteer of course). As the chair of a committee I get a free parking pass (right next to Market) and I get to go to Market for free (including the Friday night party) and I get the wonderful feeling that I've helped people. It's the most exhausting and rewarding weekend of the entire year!

Mortgage Principal and other Stuff

July 7th, 2014 at 05:45 pm

Getting there...

Paid down $155 on mortgage principal today. Our balance is now $71,332. Even if we don't pay any more down on principal, we'll own the house in July 2020.

Yesterday's frugal fun: we rode our bikes to the park (about 1 mile) and played tennis for a little bit, then rode home. Had teriyaki salmon bowls for dinner (like the ones they make at the special counter at Whole Foods but homemade and a lot less expensive). I have a good teriyaki sauce recipe - might have put in a bit too much ginger, but no one complained. We all love ginger!

Vacation decisions: we're hoping that D's coworker is ok with staying with the cat, dog and birds (he said he was, but we want to make sure) and our neighbor will stop by and let the dog out while he is a work. She spends a lot of time in her gardens, so our dog can hang out with her.

Volunteer stuff: I just called the logistics expert that helps put on Folk Art Market to ask about a lot of miscellaneous things like how do I get the handstamp for my volunteers to use at the exit and what do we do if it rains. I got a call from the volunteer coordinator to say she has a bunch of badges that my volunteers haven't picked up yet... ??? I need to stop by their office and pick those up I guess. Argh!

But right now... I'm going to my weightlifting class. I need a break!

My Volunteer "Job"

June 28th, 2014 at 03:23 am

Only two weeks to Folk Art Market... I picked up my badge and tshirt today (free t-shirt!!!), as well as badges and tshirts for some of my volunteers (they'll pick theirs up from me rather than being limited to the two pick up times).

I was curious that the committee chairs didn't get all-access passes, but I can take the back way in (my volunteers are on the back path to the buses. I got my parking pass yesterday, and that's the really important thing. It means I can be on-site as needed quickly. Did I mention that I get to go to the event free? And that my husband, as one of my volunteers, also goes free?

The logistics of putting on an event like this are staggering, but it's spread out to lots of committee chairs. Every year around this time, I think that this is my last year, and every year I do it again! I love it, but this is the point when I'm most tired (making sure everyone is scheduled, and making sure that I have a packet of info to give to people, and making sure everyone has a shirt and a badge, and sending lots of reminder emails. That wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have regular (paid) job!

OK, done complaining.... it'll be a great event and I'll try to post photos.

Now... the really sticky issue: will I buy something or not? I think the answer is probably not since I am still paying myself back for the large medical bill. And there is one more bill to come from that. And a vacation coming up. So, definitely no. I will just soak up atmosphere and take photos.

Folk Art Market

June 21st, 2014 at 03:15 pm

It's that time of the year again - Folk Art Market is almost here (3 weeks away!). I am working hard to fill my volunteer shifts, but still have some open slots left. I have contacted almost everyone I know.

I've scheduled a training session, and I've finished the information packet that I'll send to my volunteers.

So, this is unpaid of course (I am the chair of one section of volunteers), but I feel so good doing it. It has a huge benefit for the artists who take home 90% of what they make and do things like open schools and artist cooperatives. This year there will be 150 artist from 60 countries.

My friend founded the Folk Art Market 11 years ago, and that's why I'm a volunteer chair, but even if I didn't know her, I'd volunteer.

And, a big bonus: when we travel to France later this summer, we are invited to come to the house of one of the artists (a basketmaker) for the day. He'll be coming to our house for dinner when he's here for Market. Those kinds of cultural exchanges are priceless to me, especially for F.

Do you do volunteer work? I'll tell you something: it sure is a frugal way to spend your time!

A Few Not Frugal Decisions that I'm Happy About!

November 2nd, 2013 at 05:22 pm

Not-frugal decision #1 - it's the last day of fall soccer for F; the girls were so great! We are hosting the pizza party since D is the coach. Not sure how much it will cost in total (lemonade, pizza) but I had money left over in the food budget from last month, and so we're still in budget. And in my mind, this is one of the things I LIKE to spend money on! Glad we can be generous!

Not-frugal decision #2 - I was going to have a garage sale tomorrow. I anticipated making about $60. But I've decided to donate to a charity shop instead. It's gotten cold outside, and I want to spend the weekend with F - $60 isn't worth missing out on time with her. And the stuff will go to charity. I am going to go through everything and set aside a few things to sell on craigslist/ebay. I went back and forth on this, nearly making myself crazy! But I'll be glad to have the house decluttered, and to be able to give back to a charity!

Frugal Weekend

September 21st, 2013 at 10:01 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.

Busy Weekend = Random Spending

July 16th, 2013 at 02:52 am

Well, Folk Art Market is over. Phew! It was great, though. On Saturday alone 7,000 people attended and the artists made $1.37 million. My 26 volunteers were amazing; I'm so proud!

I worked so hard. My legs were sore, and then I had to sub for a friend's exercise class today (even more sore!).

The downside was that the spending was erratic and not what we'd normally do on a weekend. I bought a few things at Folk Art Market (within my budget) on Friday night, but then spent another $20 on these gorgeous crane-shaped scissors from Uzbekistan for my knitting.

We knew we'd have at least some food/dining out expenses because I was at Market most of the day on Saturday and all day Sunday. All in all we spent probably $30 total on lunch, a big juice and a snow-cone.

Our tickets were free, and we took advantage of the free entertainment, taking F to do the kids' passport program (where kids go to the artists to get flag stickers from each country) and listening to the music.

And as a Chair of a volunteer group, I got to attend the big dinner last night (free dinner!) and both D and I got dinner on Friday night at Market.

Our weekend spending was balanced out by an unusually low grocery bill. We leave on vacation on Sunday, so I'm keeping the meals simple and cheap!! Here's the plan:
- socca (chickpea flour pancake with courgettes and basil from the garden)
- Mexican scrambled eggs and salad
- hot dogs at the pool with corn on the cob
- general tso's chicken and chinese cabbage
- homemade pizza (sauce and mozzarella are in the freezer)
- stuff (picnic style! mish-mash! whatever!) to take Music on the Hill

Extra Volunteering

July 13th, 2013 at 02:20 pm

I haven't posted a lot because it's Folk Art Market weekend. I am the Chair of a committee, in charge of 24 volunteers, so I've been pretty busy!

Last night was the Opening Party - $175 a ticket, but as a Chair I get to go for free (and my husband gets a press pass because he does a lot of photography for them). It was like date night (F was a at a friend's house)! The food was really nice, so we had dinner. (But first I checked in with my volunteers).

The shifts that were difficult to fill were the Sunday shifts, so that's when I'll be filling in... need to preserve my voice until then! Today I have to relieve someone who has a double shift for about an hour.

(I did buy a few things, but I stuck with my budget!).

Sunday is kids' day - we'll bring F to the Market to meet the artists and listen to music. Sunday night the Chairs get to go to a party with the artists... so besides my purchases, a weekend of hard work and free entertainment!

Made me think that if we're visiting a city and going to a festival like this, it might be worth seeing if we can volunteer (we have a lot of out-of-town volunteers) for a free ticket and a rewarding experience!

Weekly Recap and Craigslist Woes

July 8th, 2013 at 04:45 am

This week was ok in terms of spending/savings. I put $44 into the 52-week challenge.

It was a low-cost weekend...
- went to the pool twice ($0)
- held the training session for my volunteers for the Folk Art Market (bought some pastries and grapes, but they didn't eat much, so that will be breakfast for D and F, and the grocery bill was still in budget)
- went to a book launch for a book that D's photographs were in this evening ($0 and some yummy food)
- got pizza (this is the only time we're eating out until we're on our trip - $26)

I already finished the declutter tasks for the week (removing crumbs from the toaster, cleaning the microwave)

The meal plan this week:
- bready/cheesy: quesaillas, guacamole
- eggy/potatoey: crash potatoes and broccoli
- chickeny: chicken sausage, rice, corn on the cob
- fishy: home-made sushi with cucumber/shrimp/avocado
- pasta-ish: penne with goat cheese/bacon/peas
- something from the freezer with a salad

We are down to $84,179 on the mortgage (our only debt).

I am trying to sell some things on Craigslist. The first time I listed them, I got an error when I tried to reply to the people who were interested (I had people interested in both items). So I put in the ad to leave a phone number when they responded, but this time only one person was interested in one item. And we arranged to meet, but she canceled last minute and said she'd reconnect next Fri if it's still available. Ugh. I guess I'll lower the price on the other item. These items are really too good to sell at the garage sale, but I will if I have to...

Folk Art Market

June 8th, 2013 at 03:30 am

My grandfather used to say "never volunteer." Seriously - that was one of his sayings. I, on the other hand, volunteer constantly. I am on the Building and Grounds Committee at F's school, I am room mother next year, and I drive on every field trip because I feel like that's my responsibility as a self-employed person. I did EVERYTHING for the local chapter of my professional organization (the AIA) for so many years I can't count.

And then there is the Folk Art Market... this sounds kind of cute and folksy, right? It is actually HUGE. Last year, 19,536 people attended the weekend event. There were 156 artists from 54 countries. It is fun and hard work, and inspiring. The artists take the $2.4 million that they make and bring it back to their home countries to make their communities a better place by starting schools and cooperatives.

Last year 1,540 volunteers donated their time to Folk Art Market. I am one of the volunteers, the Chair of the Line Host Committee (we help in the pay lines, helping move things along and passing out water in the heat); about 20 of the 1,540 volunteers are my responsibility.

I am desperately trying to fill the remainder of my slots, and I emailed another batch of people yesterday with no response. I need to make some direct phone calls... I am not panicking yet, but cross your fingers - we need those volunteers!