Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: June Report

What a June. 
     It wasn't as bad as April and May -- in fact, after the wedding, it calmed down a bit around here. But for the first few weeks, especially, life led us a merry chase. 
     Finances, thanks to wedding costs, have been interesting. We'd put money aside to cover them, but the Brick's kidney stone episodes, not to mention a crown and some bloodwork we both had to have, took those funds. We've been squeeeeezing to cover most of our regular costs, as a result. 
     We will make it. I feel certain of that. But it's meant putting some things off, and arranging to pay for others later.
     I also do not want to stuff the contents of freezer and pantry into the trailer. So the more we can eat up, the less we have to pack. (And the less money we need to spend.) Fits right along with the Pantry Challenge that usually runs every January. But it also means gritting my teeth and ignoring everything in the sale flyers but the true bargains.
     This report is a few days early...but I figured you could handle it.




FRUGAL HITS

*I made the kids' wedding cake myself -- ordered a topper from Etsy, plus rock crystals and food coloring gel from Amazon, plus borrowed cake pans. (Thank you, friend Laura!) The bad part: what began as a three-layer cake slid as we started up the canyon to the lodge. By the time we got to Allenspark, it had become a mound...and decorated the front of The Mama with frosting, to boot. I felt terrible about that.
     So I made it into a geode 'mountain,' instead, and added a nosegay of white roses. (I'd forgotten the topper at home, in the rush to get to the lodge.) It turned out surprisingly well, considering.

Other wedding savings:
   *Cloth napkins, cut by The Mama.
   *Made the food for the rehearsal dinner and reception ourselves (Christine, Son #1's mom, and yours truly).
   *Made the table arrangements, bouquets and bouttonieres...from garden plants! (More on this soon.)
   *Tulle used for the 'arch' and 'carpet' during the ceremony -- plus log chunks, hollowed out and planted with succulents. (The latter were also used on tables at the reception.)
   *Pretty much everyone helped -- particularly the parents (including the Brick and Christine, plus Steve, Son #1's dad, and his partner Gina); those in the wedding party and their partners; plus Brother and his family, who'd come from Michigan. (I was sooooo grateful.)
    More on this in a future post.


Daughter #2 and her proud father

Some recall items fixed on the truck...for free. I'm thankful the Brick keeps careful track of items like this.

We're back to watching a movie now and then free, as well as Fear the Walking Dead and our newest series: Grimm. (Yes, I know it's been going on for years. We just found it. Don't make fun.)
    Grimm is about a Portland, Oregon homicide detective, related to the Grimm Brothers (the fairytale collectors), who can 'see' evil monsters and villains when no one else can. Here's a delicious irony: according to IMDB, during a ComicCon, the producers were told that there are actual descendants of the Grimm Brothers living in the Portland area!




*The Brick fixed the TV. (A center section had darkened, due to defective LED lightstrips.)  Then he took the leftover LED strips, added a battery and switch, and attached them for lighting inside the trailer closets! See, I told you he was clever!

*A free sound receiver from Friend #1.  He gave us our previous one, which we'll pass on to one of the kids. Another friend set the Brick up with more equipment, which he can use to record music and pass tracks back and forth with the other guys. (Friend has a band that both guys play in.) 

*We made iced and regular coffee at home. A lot. Okay by me -- the Brick's coffee is far superior to the shops. Other than grocery stores (mostly wedding stuff), the bank and the library, I really didn't go much of anywhere this month.

*We were pretty careful on going out to eat. The few times we did, we used specials and giftcards. One big expense -- Father's Day -- Daughters #1 and #2 took care of. (Thanks, Dears.)
    Saw Black Panther at the discount cinema, along with friends. Wonderful costumes and fights, very dignified -- but I had a lot of unanswered questions. Why, for example, doesn't anyone notice that space-age planes keep zooming out of the so-called 'poor country's' airspace?? And even though outsiders -- including bad ones -- get in through the 'curtain,' they don't tell the rest of the world what's really there, behind the huts and grazing sheep??
     I'm confused.

*Two Amazon orders had some damage when they arrived -- and Amazon refunded the cost! (Thanks for being so understanding, Amazon.)

*We saved whenever possible on food for the reception. We ate as much of the leftover fruits and veggies as we could, before they started to 'go.' (We also forgot that some things were there, too late to preserve them.) Knowing you paid less for melon, greens, etc. doesn't make it any easier to throw the spoiled items away.

      Other food savings: $1/lb for burger. (I got 10 pounds.) Five pounds of mozzarella cheese for $8. Five 8 oz pkg of shredded cheddar for $5. (We eat a LOT of cheese.) I got rainchecks for what wasn't in stock right then on some other specials, then filled them just before the wedding.

*Went back to using leftovers more effectively. We had to -- the groceries for the wedding had to go somewhere. Still had spoilage -- I really miss having the chickens, in this regard. (We gave some hamburger buns and greens to our friends with rabbits.)  I did use many of the leftovers for two meals with friends -- what they don't know won't hurt them!

*Bought chicken breast (boneless, skinless) for 99 cents/lb - thanks to Zaycon. (Update:  Oh oh, just heard that Zaycon suspended business, as of June 25th. Since you have to pay for these orders ahead of time, I am headed to the credit card company next to dispute the charge. You'd better too, if you're also a Zaycon customer. Update to the update: 6/1 charge disputed; money's back in my account. Thank you, credit card company.)



*Sold two books on Amazon. Bought a few books (50 cents/kids, one $3 book for me) and a handful of videos ($2 each) from the library's used bookroom for our nieces and nephews.

*The Brick VOTED.  I hope you did, too, in your local primary.  (I am sad to say that I am a bad girl. In the rush and flurry of the month, I set aside my ballot for 'safekeeping.' When the time came to use it, it was nowhere to be found. Shame on me.)

*Did a new batch of appraisals and appraisal reports. Caught up on older ones, as well. (Whew.)

*Found several clothing items I'd forgotten about...which will be extra helpful this summer. One of the benefits of cleaning out your closet!

*Used a $10 coupon for plants at Home Depot. Ended up using them at the wedding (atmosphere, and flowers). The trimmed plants look bare now, but should leaf out nicely. (The kids planted them in their home garden.)


Coleus - one of the stars for decorating, including wedding bouquets! (pinterest)


FRUGAL MISSES


*Sent or gave out a pile of high school graduation cards, gift cards, cash and presents. We've had at least ten people, relatives and close friends, graduate this year. Why so many, I have no idea.

*We had to pay for a huge batch of blood tests connected with a recent physical. Aargh. I have another doctor's appt coming up, but managed to postpone it for a month. Plus, I asked that only the most essential bloodwork be done for the next appointment.  (I've had some minor health issues...even the minor stuff costs now.) 
     We also had yet another fight with the insurance company, who yet again told the doctor's office we had no insurance. This would be almost funny, if it didn't happen so often.
     For some weird reason, we are having the same struggle with our Sam's Club membership. In spite of the card (and the receipt, which we keep having to show to 'prove' we paid for it), the computer system thinks our membership is expired. We've been to Sam's at least four times, because of wedding items -- and every single time, we're told it's 'fixed.'

*Something munched on the strawberry plants (which were doing terrific up to that point - sigh). I also had to buy more plants to fill our planters front and back, and decorate the deck, as well. (Got some bargains, though.)



*The truck had a fuel leak.  Thankfully, the Brick was able to fix it. We spent extra for gas this month, as well, due to picking up wedding items, guests coming and going, and the two-hour drive (and back) to the wedding venue.

*Spent a bunch for the wedding reception,  and other connected events, including haircuts, clothes, shoes, decorations, food, etc etc. Even saving every way we could, we still needed to borrow money, plus cash in some savings bonds, to pay the credit cards in full. I am not happy about this, but it sure beats paying the outrageous interest the credit cards would exact. (And we'll pay it back quickly, once we sell the Outback.)
     How DO you do this, Faithful Readers who carry a balance??

*Bought nylons for the wedding -- the first in years -- and promptly got a run in one pair. Went barelegged, instead,  like everyone else in the wedding party. (Well, not Son or his groomsmen.)
     Why did we wear nylons, ages ago?? I forget.


Worth every penny -- and more.  (From Tracey Lynn's Facebook post)

*Paid the second half property tax payment. On time. Renewed the truck license, which expired in April -- and neither the Brick nor I noticed. (Never got the renewal postcard, apparently.) Colorado has a $25 penalty fee for paying late -- ironically, it costs about $30/monthly for the license. The clerk gave the Brick a license tag covering one month ahead from what it should have been. Five bucks saved!
    We continue to make our trailer loan payment midmonth, instead of waiting until the end. I can already see it's saving us on interest. Thrifty Mom in Boise taught me this simple trick, for which I am forever grateful.

*Had to throw out the last few packages of frozen peaches -- for some weird reason, the entire freezer compartment in the trailer smelled of frozen onions I'd also put in there. (Had to throw them out, too. Darn it.) Let me tell you, from experience -- a peach-and-onion smoothie is not that tasty.

*Ordered two snorkel masks for the Brick's Father's Day present. One was fine; the other, missing a small part. I'd gotten them on sale early -- and that early date meant, when he opened them, that they were past Amazon's 'return' date. Eergh. Hopefully he can rig something up so we can use both, anyways.

The new flowers in front and back look wonderful. Our terrific heat calms down now and then, and we even get (gasp) rain. You know -- that wet stuff that the rest of the country indulges in regularly. (We just don't get it much, here in Colorado.)
      Life goes on, hopefully in more serene fashion.  But we're packing up and working on the house -- so probably not.

Here's last year's June report, for comparison purposes.  And May's this year, if you're  curious.
      Wilkommen, Sommer.



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