Friday, October 28, 2016

Frugal Hits & Misses: The October Report

I've found two surprise benefits to keeping track of our frugal successes and failures. First, knowing I have to confess to you, Dear Reader, holds me back from doing anything too wacky in this department. Secondly, it reminds me that we really are doing well, in spite of unexpected events this month. And there have been plenty.  

(Here are September's and August's reports, in case you're curious.)

This monthly update is a bit early...but I had time to write it. In the spirit of others who give us all a hand on this subject (ahem), here goes.

*I was careful on food purchases -- especially veggies and fruit. This was partly because I knew we'd be out of town for at least two weeks. I cleaned out the refrigerator before we went. (Stale stuff promptly went to the chickens, who recycled them efficiently.) I also used coupons when possible. For some strange reason, the local groceries went hogwild on our favorite brands of canned soup. Fine with me -- I had coupons!
     Friends gave us a large box of crisp apples. Apple pie, here we come.
     The Friday/Saturday store worked its usual magic, as well. Ten pounds of mushrooms: $5.00. Enchilada sauce: a buck. A head of lettuce: 50 cents. And another 50 pounds of beans (kidney this time), plus 40 pounds of chicken wings, for $20 each. Most of the chicken wings will go in the freezer for a Seniors Luncheon in January.

*Made a BUNCH of food for the Mighty Hunters, including three entrees, two kinds of cookies, blueberry muffins, etc. Also bought some canned items for them on sale...although the Brick, now that he goes grocery shopping too, is much more aware of what's expensive -- and what's not. (He used to just grab whatever he felt like, regardless of price.)

*Had a picnic lunch with Daughter #2 down by Boulder Creek, watching the leaves fall. Much better than the $$ I would have spent taking her out to lunch; we both loved sitting and talking.

*Kept the green beans going, to the tune of at least 3-4 more pounds of crunchiness. They finally bit the dust last week. (The greens are still producing, thankfully.) The wilting leaves went to the chickens, who relished the few limp beans left on the vines. Not that they were grateful...

*We were careful on food and gas purchases while on the road. Brought our own coffee and took advantage of specials and dollar menus when we did stop. This also applied to a new battery, bought at Wal-Mart. (I stocked up on more snacks while we were there, too. See here for more.)

*Got replacements and/or coupons for stuff that was deficient. These have been accumulating: a bag of bacon-flavored dogfood (the kids refused to eat it), two tv dinners (crappy meatloaf), two 12-packs of Coke and Barq's rootbeer (little or no fizz...what's going on with that?). A debit card (from doing a study) was updated, so it would work again. The only bad part: the dogfood bag had a hole in it. Now I have a decorative kibble design on my laundry room floor that needs to be scooped up. Oh goody.

*Found a gallon of light tan paint for the chicken a buck! Now if the coop would only empty and scrape itself off, so I can get started.

*Swapped dog & chicken care. No $$ for us, as a result -- or for the people whose dog we looked after.

*Donated two large garbage bags of coats and scarves to charity -- so many that the bags were almost too heavy to carry. (So how come our coat closet doesn't look any emptier?)

*Got free tickets to the latest Jack Reacher movie. (Review coming soon.)  You can do this, as well, by registering at Gofobo.

*Started an election judge's job. The hours won't be that long until just before Election Day. The work's reasonably mindless and the pay not that great. But every extra $ adds to the emergency fund.

*Did some appraising. Less than ten...but hey. See previous entry.

*A nice leg up on Christmas presents. Russell Stover helped with that, but so did airline miles for a magazine subscription. Found a few others here and there at the thrift shop.

*Used available fabrics and trims for the class in North Carolina.  (Got more needed fabric for future classes, using a free shipping offer from Spoonflower.)

*Picked up the 29-foot trailer we plan to eventually live in. We still don't have a suitable truck to pull it, but a friend helped us get it parked in the driveway. The Brick registered the trailer, at hundreds of dollars less than if we actually lived in Castle Rock. (The town border officially begins just outside our back fence.)

*No new clothes, stuff  or wild purchases.   Except, she says, looking down -- I did buy some fabric in North Carolina, just for the fun of it, and $6 worth of clothes (a sweater and two tops - it was half-price day) at 'Sally's' -- Salvation Army -- in Boulder. I am a bad girl.
     Seriously, though -- having the trailer in our driveway reminds me every day that I can't buy every geegaw out there, regardless of price. There just won't be room for it in our new place.

*Listed four items for sale; sold an item on Amazon. Instead of buying books or videos, I checked them out from the library. (A couple of the series we enjoy watching came in, including Season 6 of The Walking Dead. Whoopee!)

*Donated several bags of the books no one is paying much for on Amazon... to the library where I get so many books and videos, anyways. Thanks, Philip S. Miller.

*Sold eggs to our usual customers...and did some piano lessons. Side gigs really help pad out black holes in your income.  Taught the North Carolina class, which didn't pay much, compared to my usual gig -- but it was fun. Based on the comment forms, my students enjoyed it, too.

Selling my 'kids?' Shame on you!

Failures really were minor this month.

*Two more of the elderly chickens died. We've expected the old girls to start kicking off. Yes, we should butcher them -- but I've found myself strangely reluctant. They've worked so hard for us over the years. Sentimental weenie, I am.
     They weren't laying much, if at all, so that saves on feed. We've been burying them by the raspberry bushes, to give them (the bushes, that is) a protein boost.

*The Brick found out he needs two dental crowns replaced. In our neck of the woods, that's about $2000 -- if not more. Ouch. The bills for my crown are almost finished, so we'll start paying for his, $150 at a time every month.
     I really wish we could stop having to pay for some medical/dental bill every month. But it's necessary...and at least we can pay this way, instead of having to shovel up the money in one big pile.

*Went out to eat more than we should -- but a lot of it was due to being on the road. No huge deal. I bought an order of sushi, when I should have gone home and eaten soup, instead.

All our bills were paid on time -- the credit cards, as usual, paid in in full. (Yay!) The Brick hasn't been reimbursed yet for his hours of driving bus, but my North Carolina check should cover any overage. We'll use the extra $$ to save for property taxes in a few months.

November's goals -- 
    *Finish a weighted blanket for a friend's young son. (She is swapping for a wonderful wooden sign she made me.)
    *Put more items up on Amazon...probably Ebay and Craigslist, as well.
    *Write an article or two.
    *Clear out, sell and/or donate unneeded books and quilts. (I'll worry about other things next.)
    *Make up kits for a Crazy quilt class I'll be teaching in December. (More on that soon.)
    *Reserve election judge income for the emergency fund. Every single cent.
    *Christmas cards, done early? Maybe some cookies too, in addition to the Thanksgiving pies?
            Hey, while I'm dreaming --
     *Get the Christmas presents wrapped ahead of time.

I think I'll worry more about that in December...and just enjoy the season. It will be over soon enough.

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