Monday, January 30, 2017

Frugal Hits and Misses: January Report

Where did this month go? It has just whizzed by. We felt a little sad to have to start up the regular schedule again. The Brick trudged off to drive schoolbus a few days a week; I went back to my usual mix of appraising/teaching/dogsitting/writing. 
     January isn't as dreary here in Colorado, compared to other states -- we get lots of sun, a little snow, but not that many blizzards. Not the whizzbangers some of you further east or north have had, anyways. (Too bad, we need the moisture.) When we do get slammed, the drama usually only lasts a day or two. Then it's back to bare ground and sunshine.
     All the same, I would have been perfectly content staying home, bumbling around the house, watching tv and picking away at this and that. Too bad life doesn't let you. (Or perhaps that's fortunate.)
     After the extra costs of paying off December bills (mostly for renewing memberships and gift cards), I've been trying very hard to follow my own advice. It would be so easy to wander around and pick up 'bargains' right now. Instead, I've been reading a lot of library books, and working on inventory/consolidation for Brickworks. (Nothing like seeing what you've already got to keep you from buying more.) Kinowing I have to account to you, Gentle Readers, is helping, as well.
     It's never easy, though, is it... 

(This one includes a few end-of-the-month December items.)

Follow the road...and stay on it. That's how you make progress. I keep telling myself that.

*Covered a luncheon for Seniors -- 37 people served, for $58.50! (Go here if you missed that post.)

*Put the leftovers from that Senior Luncheon to good use. Ate some, gave some away...and whatever was left went to the chickens.

*Gave flowers to friends, and bought some for myself -- all at half or more off. These really perk up the doldrums. A large bouquet of red spicy carnations for $1.99? A big bunch of roses for $2.95? I'll take those any day.

*Got a couple of welcome paychecks -- including the Brick's paycheck for driving bus, and one for a job I did for a guild back in August.  Did a bunch of appraisals. The piano students started up again too.
         The Brick may have a new job opportunity. I'll tell you more if it materializes.

*Given a pair of tickets for the Champagne Ball.  By an appraisal client. (Thank you, Elizabeth!) This fundraiser is a benefit for Toby's Shower for Babies, a preemies nonprofit that presents gift baskets and other helps for new parents at the neonatal ICU. Unfortunately, we couldn't go -- but Daughter #1 and her guest went and represented Brickworks for us.

*Stayed away from my usual buying haunts -- even the thrift shop. The library's sale room was pretty bare, for some weird reason -- until mid-month, when they culled the Christmas videos. I bought nine at a buck each, along with one of my favorite movies: San Andreas. (Don't know why - maybe it's the blend of heroics with everything crashing.)

*Some of those movies went immediately out for sale via Amazon. I also sold several more books. (Still culling from my stack -- we have a LOT of books.)

*Bought a couple of series at bargain prices from Walmart: Jericho (an amazing survivalist-type series that should have stayed on longer), plus two seasons of a very silly but entertaining comedy: Hogan's Heroes. The latter were less than $4 each!

(Know who's playing the drums in the intro? Bob Crane himself -- he was a talented drummer.)

*Treated to several meals out (and one KFC meal in) by The Mama.

*Put out donation bags for ARC. More are headed out next week for DVA (Disabled Veterans of America).

*Caught up on some series, including Blacklist and Sherlock. And we watched them for free. Frankly, I thought the latter was a bust. Lots of drama, but little action -- unless you call being manipulated into unpleasant options, with seemingly no other choice. (And there were always other choices.) It seemed cheap and unworthy of the Baker St. detective.

     Started watching (again) a series that we've loved: Longmire. The only issue: it's supposed to be in Wyoming -- and was filmed around Santa Fe! This is one of the few television shows about the West that actually seems Western.

*Gave myself permission to be late. Sent out the last of the Christmas cards and dropped presents off for piano students late. They didn't seem to mind -- bonus Christmas presents! -- and it was a lot less stressful. I also made whole wheat sourdough for church staff. Couldn't get the rest done in time, so our neighbors and mailperson will get Valentine's Day bread or homemade pretzels, instead.
     Finished the weighted blanket late -- it still needs to be bound, but that's no big deal. I have some restoration jobs I could pick up now, if I wanted to. (Still debating.)

*Picked up a new dogsitting job. I hope to have more -- these are so much fun.

*More bonus gift cards -- Applebee's, Panera. We'll use the bonus bucks for going out to eat in January and February, as well as some of the gift cards. (The others were Christmas presents for our nieces and nephews.) We spent a lot at the end of the year, restaurant-wise -- but most of it was gift cards that earned bonuses. And we'll use these through the year. (In fact, we've already started using the bonus bucks, amending as needed with gift cards. Thanks, Applebee's and Panera -- Red Robin is tomorrow.)

*Took advantage of several meat sales - including hamburger ($2.21/lb - wow) and boneless chicken breast ($1.55/lb). Didn't buy large quantities -- we're trying to clear out the freezers and the shelves, in preparation for moving. 

*Sold some eggs. Forced to drop one of our regular customers -- the chickies were laying less than usual. They are starting to pick up again, but we'll need the extra eggs for personal use. They (the chickies, that is) are still great for snarfing up leftovers and too-old food.

*50 pounds of onions for $5.00  (split half with friends). They gave us a few turnips, which I used for pasties -- that recipe is here.

*Half-off (or more) on Christmas stuff, including candy, gum, cookies, pasta (Christmas tree and Santa shapes) and a house-shaped birdhouse with removable top -- I'll use it to store embellishments in the trailer. I really did not buy that much of these items.

Christmas in January -- yay

*Took advantage of several free coupons and grocery sales -- including gum at 49 cents (versus $1.69), Dinty Moore beef stew, a real steal at $1.00 each (reg. $2.50 --I bought 18) -- potatoes at 10 cents/pound, and some marked-down items, like sour cream, mushrooms and canned biscuits. (39 cents for the latter!) Kraft brand, by far our favorite for mac and cheese, was 50 cents -- and worth buying a case. (It keeps beautifully.) I also had coupons for free vegetables and pizza.
     I did cook a lot out of our freezer and shelves for regular meals this month, as planned.

*Agreed to sell our Cherokee to Daughter #1. She needs reliable transportation in the snow. And with the purchase of a truck looming, we need to clear out one of our vehicles. I feel a little sad about this -- we've driven Cherokees for decades, and this leaves us with only the Outback for now. But it makes sense.

*I found two pennies (outside) and a dime (inside). Plus, in a very strange way, eight dollar bills. 
     Hey, every cent counts! :)


The misses were minimal this month, thankfully -- and mostly car-related.

*Had to renew the Cherokee license registration -- even though we were selling it shortly. (I was more irritated by having to waste an hour at the license bureau. Could they possibly run it MORE inefficiently?)

*Both windshields on both vehicles are badly cracked, and need replacing. (Colorado doesn't use road salt -- gravel, instead. This is how we pay for not having our vehicles rust quickly.) Got a discount on both -- appointment's the end of this week. It's still going to set us back $500-600. Yowch.

We might have found a truck to pull the trailer by now. It's not going to be cheap.

*Bought a beautiful brand-new lambswool sweater for our anniversary dinner. Washed it afterwards -- and it promptly shrank down to kid-size. At least it was only $15, and from the thrift shop. And I did get one very nice dinner experience out of it. But still...

*Still paying way too much for health insurance and cellphones/internet. And $300 a month goes toward our dental bills. (Two crowns and counting, so far.) We're working on the phone/insurance issues -- can't do much about the teeth business.

*I racked up a couple days' worth of overdue fees for library books. Now $1.00 in the hole. Guess I'll use one of those eight dollar bills to pay it off.

You can access other Frugal Hits and Misses monthly reports here -- August - December.

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