Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Frugal Hits and Misses - February Report

February may be a shorter month -- but it's also been a strange one this year. Lots of work, wondering about the house sale (and getting an offer plus counteroffer, so far), trying to keep regular chores done, plus starting to plan for Daughter #2's upcoming wedding....there hasn't been much time to do anything extra. (You should see my pile of clothes-to-iron...shameful.) 
     We also got very little moisture of any kind -- a number of days in the 70s, with people out in shorts and sunbathing. Wait a minute: we are still in winter, aren't we?
     Getting the flu, plus a whopping case of food poisoning (thank YOU, Applebee's chicken tenders) didn't help any. At least it kept me from wanting to get out and wander. I had big plans to make thank-you dog biscuits for our dogsitting clients...that never happened. Maybe next month. 

*Lebkuchen for less than half price. I bought two large boxes off Amazon -- these are easily the best cookies in the world. (No chest in our order -- just delicious cookies.) We'll use them for presents and nibbling -- they last for months.

Lebkuchen Schmidt Festive Chest, 6.23-Pound Container

*More stuff collected and donated. We really need to ramp up in this area in March.

*I'm a penny magnet these days, for some strange reason.  I've found a few in the street, one in a parking lot -- and one shiny penny in the coin slot of a parking machine. Go figure.

*Sold more books on Amazon. This is slowing down a bit. I also found a copy of Finding Franklin on Ebay for $10 and shipping, thanks to 'Make An Offer.' I've wanted this book for ages, and it goes for more than double that amount on Amazon.

*Finished the weighted blanket for our friend's son. This took WAY longer than I'd planned, but I learned a lot, and he's pleased with it.

*Flowers for Valentine's Day -- roses from the Brick were lovely, but only lasted a few days before they wilted. (I intend to mention that to the seller!)  My piano student kids also brought a beautiful bouquet of mums, only now starting to look a bit ragged.
             A lovely pot of daffodils from Trader Joe's ($3.49) has lasted even longer.

*The Brick gave himself a (short) haircut -- though I actually like it. For myself, I used a $7.99 haircut coupon at Great Clips. My cut ended up a little shaggy -- not nearly as nice as his. (Maybe I should let him cut my hair, instead.)

*A BUNCH of checks came in, including for jobs done in December and January that I hadn't been paid for yet. (This happens a lot if you own your own business.) I did some consulting work that will pay off in photos for use in articles - and a few other intangibles. I also accepted some restoration work, including rebinding some Depression Era quilts for a client.

*Did a lot of appraising this month. Not sure why...but grateful. I also had a teaching gig in Colorado Springs for the Piecing Partners guild. (Had a wonderful time, too.)

*We did some other small jobs, including a week of dogsitting. Including piano lessons, playing on worship team for another church, etc.Nothing big -- but the combined money is always welcome.

*Finished one series -- and started a few more. Foyle's War is over, sadly. It gave me a taste for British tea and toast all over again. We're working on Accused (powerful, but some weird conclusions) and Happy Valley, a Yorkshire-based series inspired by my visits to A Life By Design. (It's called 'Happy Valley,' by the way, because of all the drug traffic there. But the scenery is amazing.)

*The Brick drove schoolbus a few days a week...and added $840 to the month's income by doing it! He is such a sweetheart.

*Saved on Valentine's Day gifts -- chocolates set aside for the Brick, plus one of those discounted lebkuchen boxes. (He loved it.) Bigfoot terrariums for the girlies. (Surprisingly, they loved them! I'll show you how-tos on these shortly.)  Chocolates from the Friday/Saturday store for my piano kids.

*Found hunting gear on DEEP discount for the Brick's birthday presents. I found gear for both daughters, plus our new son, as well. It was meant for birthday presents, but we gave these to them early. (That way, I don't have to pack them.)

*DIDN'T SHOP MUCH. (And boy, was that hard.)

*Grilled steaks at home for the Brick's birthday on Feb. 20.  (I actually had some coupons to use...but he wanted to stay home. Okay with me.) Found a half-price carrot cake...and made apple dumplings, as well. He loves apple pie -- and I don't make it much.

*Sold eggs - plus a bonus dozen to neighbors. Those more than covered the extra bag of crumbles we needed to buy. (The chickens are now picking up on egglaying, thankfully.)

*Didn't go to Tucson with Daughter #2 and Son #1 -- even though we wanted to, and could have afforded it. But who would be cleaning up the house and getting work done, if we did?

*Cleared out the credit card charges for Brickworks LLC from December. Paid sales tax for 2016, (I guess that's a 'miss,' actually.)

*Saved on new windshields for both the Cherokee and the Outback. Compared prices, and got a $75 new customer discount thrown in -- on both. In the end, it was $365 for both windshields, including installation...not much more than what we've paid for one in the past.

*Sold the Jeep Cherokee (at a bargain) to Daughter #1. No more insurance $$ on that, though money gained is minimal. (Once again, though, any extra money coming in is welcome.)
      I already feel better, knowing that this car is more dependable than the old Jeep she fondly calls the Turdmobile. She's driven "Goldy Dragon" through at least one storm with no problems, and it will keep her safer this spring.

*The IREA energy printout labeled us as the most efficient neighbors on the street! That means we saved on heating costs, compared to what it could have been.

*Out to lunch twice, courtesy of Daughter #2 and Son #1. (She would say that phrase applies to me, in more ways than one.) We kept restaurant visits to a bare minimum this month, except for the Brick's lunches and coffee breaks while driving. Usually we redeemed bonus cards and gift cards already purchased in December.

*A few more $1 videos, plus a $2 hardcover or two, from the library's used book room. The books are replacing ones I plan to keep; the videos were mostly presents. At least two were series videos. No overdue fines this month!

*Kept our meat costs down: the steaks for the Brick's dinner were on sale. I also found several pounds of $1.49/lb sausage. Have you noticed the jump in meat prices...particularly sausage and pork chops? Chicken prices seem to be going down a little here in the Denver, Colorado area, though.

*Just finishing off the apples in the cooler on the deck. These were picked by friends from a neighbor's tree down the street, and given to us. They're just starting to 'go' now, but have provided fruit for the chickens -- and dumplings for us -- all through the winter. (I just checked - we got them in mid-October. Four and a half months in a cooler? Pretty good.)

*Found a John Elway signed kid's Broncos jersey at Sally's (Salvation Army) in Boulder: $6.  I'll sell it on Ebay when life calms down a bit.

*The Brick got a Gold Card. Once you turn 60, this card entitles you to free admission at any number of Douglas County School District events -- something which immediately paid off in free Oliver! tickets at the high school. ($24 saved right there.) We intend to use it more, too.
         I'm not 60 yet -- but the Brick is. He doesn't act like it, though.

And the best frugal hit of February? 

*The Brick found a health insurance plan which is saving us BIG bucks. It offers much the same benefits as our previous health plan under Colorado's PERA. (Actually, it's a little better.) And the difference in price per month? About $500! 


Now the frugal misses for this month. Thankfully, they were few.

*Property tax was due -- almost a thousand dollars.  (Ouch. So much for all those extra checks.)

*We lost a chicken. The flock is starting to age, so it's to be expected. But still...

I resemble that remark!

Go here for previous months' frugal hits and misses

It's wonderful to be inspired by others' efforts in this area, as well.

Now on to March -- traditionally the snowiest month of the year for Colorado. We'll see.

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