Yep, the new school year is about 14 hours away. DH and I have spent the day trying to get things done around here. I made quinoa salad for both DD and DH's lunches, made muffin tin fritatas for breakfasts for the week, and got the lunch boxes ready.
I still have a few things to do because we spent yesterday in the Wisconsin Dells taking a boat trip through the Upper Dells. The commercial trashy Dells are pretty awful, but the natural Dells--the beautiful river and rock formations are breathtaking. We saw Stand Rock and the fabulous Witches Gulch. It was a fun day followed by our dinner out using a restaurant gift card.
I look forward to the new school year. Let's go!
Yep, the new school year is about 14 hours away. DH and I have spent the day trying to get things done around here. I made quinoa salad for both DD and DH's lunches, made muffin tin fritatas for breakfasts for the week, and got the lunch boxes ready.
Yesterday one of my London friends was visiting her parents in Chicago, so we met for lunch at a nearby outlet mall. I haven't been to an outlet mall in years, but she had shopping to do, and brought her mom. We had a delightful lunch, I really enjoyed her mother, and her dear mother bought lunch! Meaning to spend nothing, I did end up buying a cute gray and white striped shirt at the Gap outlet. I had an additional 15% off so it was only $18. Not strictly necessary, but it's nice to have one or two new things to start a new season, yes? I also had a coupon for the Ghiradelli outlet and got a small bag to add a daily treat to DD's school lunches. It was fun to ramble around the mall's shops a bit. I spent time in the Le Creuset and Company Store, but resisted.
Today was even more fun. DD and I spent hours at a nature center in a town about 45 minutes away. We saw lots of animals, got to feed some, and I sort of fell in love with a porcupine. Beautiful day in a beautiful forest setting and a nice way to wind up our summer. We'd heard about a place to pick peaches--which I didn't think was possible in Wisconsin--so then headed out there to pick some peaches. It was lots of fun. Between those peaches and our CSA veggies, we have enough food for a week. Or two. More fun awaits tomorrow. It seems like a good way to end the summer.
My second consecutive NSD day hopes were dashed when my friendly carpenter wanted the second part of the bathroom cash. I expected him to ask for it a week ago, so perhaps I earned a few cents interest on that $8000. Ugh. But things are progressing in there.
My class started last night with nine students. It's beginning composition and usually we read a variety of essays from a textbook assigned by the university. I've decided to tweak it and make the readings all essays about people and their relationships with money. They're all adult learners, so why not talk about money, right? We'll see how it goes. I pulled a bunch of essays off the web, but would welcome anyone's suggestions for more.
The bright spot is more junk is leaving my house. We keep throwing random things into the dumpster, and the red wagon has been picked up as has the light fixture. Count that as $20 in. I've just listed a small table which has sold too!
Yesterday's garage cleaning did mean I found some more items to sell and declutter. I've sold DD's red wagon from her childhood days (kind of sad?), and it's awaiting pickup with the bathroom light fixture.
I've also cashed $25 out of Swagbucks which is being transferred to my Big Goal UK house fund.
In other frugal news, some of the fridge veggies found a new home in a pot of soup, and I've made extra brown rice and quinoa for salads this week. DH is taking soup to work for lunch all week.
My adjunct class starts tonight, so it's good to be back in the earning cycle. it's just composition, but maybe I'll have another superstar like my ex-con from two terms ago.
DH and (briefly) DD and I spent the bulk of the afternoon cleaning the garage. We got a lot done, and happily I found a few things I can sell. I'll try to get them listed tomorrow. But what a yucky job. We tossed a bunch of wood and pipe found in the garage, recycled garden pots, threw away big sheets of plastic, folded tarps, and sorted all the various types of garage-dwelling liquids. We have two shelving units in there and have always rather slovenly just put all the various things on either shelf. I wiped down the shelves and separated the garden stuff from the automotive stuff. It looks much better. After a shower and a drink, we complimented ourselves on a job well done.
What a week--this morning I got an e-mail from the capstone project coordinator that after a dozen years of evaluating these projects, the university has decided to eliminate the post on all their campuses. It's not a huge amount of money, maybe $150-200 a month, but this last term is it. Not sure what this will mean for my big goal since that was a major source of funding for it. I'm going to have to figure a few more things out, but I keep reminding myself it's only money.
I've been curious about how much it costs to run the dishwasher after your earlier post, CCF. Here's what I found from the SF Gate:
Multiply the wattage of your dishwasher (most models fall in a range between 1,200 and 2,400 watts) by the number of hours you run it each day. Divide this number by 1,000 to find the number of kilowatt-hours the dishwasher uses. Multiply this number by your cost per kilowatt-hour to come up with the daily cost of running your dishwasher. For example, suppose your dishwasher is rated at 1,800 watts, you run it for two hours a day and your electricity rate is 13 cents. Multiply 1,800 by 2 to get 3,600 watt-hours, or 3.6 kilowatt-hours. Multiply this figure by 13 cents, resulting in 46.8 cents. So it costs you just under 50 cents a day to run your dishwasher.
Those are pretty much our Dishwasher wattage and costs per kilowatt hour. Fifty cents a day.
Last night we got a call from the bathroom contractor that, while not unexpected, has turned my budget sieve into a budget sinkhole. The toilet in the family bath they’re re-doing has been leaking and many of the floor boards are rotten. All was revealed when the tile came up. That wasn’t too awful, but taking off the drywall also revealed that our ensuite shower—located just behind the family bathroom—was leaking from the dial and had been doing so for some time. The drywall was completely soaked, the joists and lath were rotten through and through. The only real cure is to tear out that shower as well.
The previous bid on that bathroom was way too high for us, so I’ve asked their designer to try to find ways to bring that price down. We could live with the current vanity and sink; the sink is an attractive marble-look Corian, and while the vanity could benefit from a paint job, it’s mostly fine. I’d consider installing some sliding shelving baskets in there ourselves to make better use of the space. But no matter what, it’ s going to be a chunk of change. I’ve been resisting an uber-frugal month, but we certainly need to cinch things in. A tighter food budget only does so much. I wonder if I can find some things to sell? I’d look for extra editing work, but I have a full class load and my evening class from Monday until Christmas. Thinking, thinking, thinking.
I've needed at least one or two new tires for a while, but over the weekend, we decided to take a look at all of them, and one was very bad. So today out went $573 for four new tires. That included free installation, and I'll get a $60 rebate. Looking at the fine print it appears it's not a cash rebate, but a gift card to one of several retailers--Best Buy, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Home Depot, Staples, or Target. So now my Target gift cards just keep on piling up.
I've also paid the insurance today, transferred more money out to pay the bathroom remodelers tomorrow, and it looks like there is some damage to the bathroom floor that will need addressing before the new one goes on.
Good thing we've got tomatoes.
Not me, just the bathroom! Our bathroom contractors showed up at 7:30 this morning and spent the day taking out the sinks, toilet, vanity and wall tile along with removing the light fixtures and towel bar for reuse. I'm giving the relatively new and nice Kohler faucet to a friend; she may also take the light fixture. While I'm still a bit anxious about the cash, we're also excited. DD and I watched the eclipse at the university. We have a widely respected astronomy department, and the director of the planetarium is a real treasure. We were able to buy glasses there for $1, and had a great time sitting with friends. Lots of them constructed box viewers, brought picnics, and enjoyed the humid afternoon.
I do have a bumper crop of tomatoes. It may be time for a caprese salad. While I've enjoyed the tomato canning of years past, I'm probably going to pass this year. The semester is sneaking up on me, and I'd rather get prepped. We had BLTs for dinner tonight with some coleslaw. Any one have some fabulous summer easy dinners to share? I have the August menu blahs. I can figure out how to use my CSA veggies but am uninspired otherwise.
We've been getting by on freezer food, fill ins, and CSA veggies this week, supplemented happily now with garden tomatoes, but it's time to buy some things. We seem to need all the staples from olive oil to tortillas to eggs and milk. Perhaps a Costco lunch is in order!
Yesterday was all about the teeth, thankfully not mine for a change. My DD got her bottom braces removed and is just on retainers on the top and bottom. We finished the $100 co-pay several months ago, so it won't make a difference in our outlay, but she is ready for corn on the cob. We'd scheduled a cleaning with the regular dentist a few hours later, but when we arrived, learned the hygienist was ill and we've had to reschedule. It would've been nice it they'd have called!
I haven't done a big shop since we got home, so we've been mostly eating from the freezer. On the way back from the dentist I bought a new things to fill in until tomorrow or Saturday. I'm going to try to crank the grocery bill down, especially with CSA veggies coming today. Our CSA e-mail said they're done with summer squash deliveries for the year, but we're welcome to come and glean. We just might. They're about 30 minutes from us, and while we don't really need the zukes, it might be worthwhile for all of us to visit. Plus I love the idea of gleaning--all Ruth and Naomi and that. I saw a fabulous French film a few years ago about potato gleaners that really stuck with me.
As I wrote on Patient Saver's blog, my DD earned/won several reading prizes at the library. For reading 2000 pages, she got a new hardcover she'd been wanting and was entered into a drawing for other prizes. In that drawing she'd won 7 new manga titles. She's over the moon. I encouraged her to apply for the teen council at the library too thinking it might be a way into a PT job when she's old enough, and she was accepted there as well. How fun!
I'm prepping for classes and reading capstone projects. Two read in two days means $150. I'm also going to call ATT to see if we can pare down our bill. Like CCF, I'm focused on that big goal. Towards that, I've deposited $125 from Swagbucks--mostly rebates on travel.
Back from the UK and sorely missing it already. DH and I always sit down after trips and figure out what went right and wrong. Apart from our first-day mishap and a few rainy days without much done on the Isle of Wight, everything went very well. The car was a perfect size for the four of us, my daughter’s buddy was a great traveler if a bit overwhelmed sometimes, we saw LOTS of old friends, ate plenty of great food, and I had a glorious day to myself in London. We went to the theatre three times—the Globe, a participatory Alice through the Looking Glass, and the Bob Dylan play I so much wanted to see. I reconnected with my old colleagues and had a wonderful lunch with them.
Our best “new” thing was the great airbnbs—all so different and so fun. The London flat was convenient, in my favorite neighborhood, and large enough for all four of us comfortably. The a bit-too-small cottage on the Isle of Wight overlooked the river and sea, offered great views of fireworks and the Red Arrows, and was right next to a “floating bridge” aka small ferry connecting both sides of the river. The girls rode that free half a dozen times a day just for fun. We had a beach BBQ with friends too. The final airbnb was in a small village inside the London commuter belt but close to our friends in Windsor. The granny annex was in a gated home with spectacular views from the adorable leaded glass windows over the village church steeple and all the way to Windsor Castle. It was gorgeous and made me feel like I was living in a British novel seeing that church steeple outside the windows. Every airbnb left us coffee, tea, a pint of milk, and bread.
Now to gather myself together to take the next steps towards paying some bills, readying the bathroom for the Monday remodeling, prepping us all for school, and figuring out where to go from here. August is a nasty month for us with the next bathroom installment due along with the annual home insurance, DH’s tuition, school supplies, car insurance, and life insurance. In other financial news, DH’s siblings have sold the UK house to his brother. We’re working out payment schedules now. That cash will go into the UK savings for our home there. The village airbnb gave me a lot to think through about the costs in somewhere not quite in central London, but charming and cheaper.
Hello from London! Everything's great now, but we had a bad first day. Our flight was late in Heathrow, so I started texting the airbnb host to say we'd be late. When we arrived about 90 minutes than planned, there was no one there. No answer to our texts. no response to the emergency line call at airbnb. My daughter wasn't feeling well, and I was upset. We waited and texted her for another two hours as it started to rain with us outside the flat, our huge suitcases, and two tired girls. I called some British friends, my husband called airbnb, and together we all decided the only thing to do was try to get a hotel. Happily this was my old neighborhood in London so I knew the nearby spots, and managed to wangle a room for the three of us about a mile away. We even managed to take the bus there. Later that night I got a almost panicked, very apologetic call from the host who was relying on a friend to let us in--and didn't get our texts until much later. The girls and I crashed, ate great ramen, saw the Changing of the Guard in the morning and still managed to meet someone who let us into the flat, grab a bus with the suitcases, haul them up four flights of stairs, and meet my DH on time. So where did the $75 come from? The host is reimbursing us (without my asking) for the first night. The $75 is the difference between our airbnb and the hotel cost. And we had a nice free breakfast at the hotel. Annoying--but when we got in the flat, it was great, and found a big box of chocolates and a bottle of prosecco waiting for us. We went off to the Globe last night for an absolutely spectacular performance of 12th Night. We went to a wacky Alice in Wonderland thing today and up the London Eye--which my family did a decade ago. My DH and I took a photo at Waterloo Station where we first
met. Lots of fun already. But London is expensive, so as they say--every little bit helps.
I just paid the down payment on the bathroom remodel and signed the contract. Yeesh--$8000. And went out to breakfast with a friend, bought various odds and ends for the UK trip, paid DD's $178 school fees, and bought a street map of Paris. All good, most necessary (not the breakfast, but it was delicious). DH and I had a long chat last night about trimming expenses in the UK. We're hoping to eat two meals a day either at the flats or picnic-style. I'm a cheap-o Londoner, so I'll put my grocery store skills to the test. I found all my British shopper cards, packed some reusable grocery bags and a tiny cool bag. My DH will carry anything in his backpack; it doesn't bother him at all while I HATE hauling stuff around. I have to remember some empty water bottles.
Anything frugal today? Free deodorant and toothpaste with various CVS offers and almost free pens at Walgreen's. Still eating through the fridge. Two days!
I heard this broadcast on our university radio station this afternoon. I thought it was well worth a listen: http://wuwm.com/post/financial-diaries-profiles-budgeting-struggles-working-families#stream/0
We're joining together with some folks from church to serve dinner at a local AODA halfway house tonight. We've talked about it for a while, but they had an emergency opening in our three monthly dinners there, so we signed up. One family is bringing chili and cornbread, another desserts, and I thought a big fruit salad and some veggies and dip would be a nice addition. It should be a good experience for all of us. I'm aware sometimes of the bubble we live in most of the time. One of our members is on the board and she has shared some amazing stories.
All of this prompted a big shopping trip to Costco yesterday for fruit and veggies. But 85% of them will go out with us tonight, and I'm helping a friend move tomorrow and will bring the rest with me then.
Packing for London now!
We're at T-minus six days until London, and I seem to be drawing down everything. I've moved some items from the fridge/freezer to the downstairs freezer to ensure they stay super cold while the dog sitter is here. It can be a tricky upstairs freezer drawer if you're not used to it. I'm trying hard to use up all the fresh food and excess around here--and still working our way through DH's huge purchase of six packages of sliced cheese. Luckily everyone likes a grilled cheese sandwich around here. I'm moving our clean clothes that will be packed out of the closets and drawers into the guest room to start packing tomorrow. The gift cupboard is being drawn down as I have several gifts for friends and family to pack.
I've listed "return all library books" on the calendar for the weekend. I arranged haircuts for both DD and me for Tuesday and finalized our airport transportation. Tomorrow will be an errand day as I have stuff to donate and buy. I have another colleague lunch today. Tonight I also need to doublecheck I've made printouts of all our papers, tickets, reservations, etc. I'm fretting that I didn't rent a large enough car for our countryside time. Anyone have a Jetta station wagon or know anything about their size? There will be 4 of us and four large suitcases. Do you think we need a bigger car? The rates go up quite dramatically for larger rentals, but we'll be driving to Cambridge, then to Southhampton as well as around the Isle of Wight.
No such thing as a free lunch? I had one today thanks to one of my university friends who had gift certificates to a fancy French place and took a few of us out for lunch. Yum. A nice glass of Vouvray and a Salad Nicoise followed by a fruit tart divvied amongst several of us. I spent the morning with my summer teaching group discussing a book about learning styles. It's always fun to hang out with faculty from other disciplines. It helps us all. I had to pay for parking as the streets around the French place were all torn up, but it was only $1.50. And I fed the family from the freezer for dinner. I could get used to that kind of a day.
Oh my word--I wish I was one of those people who entertained without stress. My poor DD. This was her first birthday party at home in years, and she must've caught my nerves. She was awake at 1am the night before fretting over having chosen what she feared was the "wrong" flavors for her ice cream cake. She worried about the guest list; she threatened to cancel. My maniacal cleaning probably didn't help. For some insane reason she thought she should invite friends from 5-11, plus I had to drive 45 minutes south to pick up her friend who has moved. So how did it go? Fabulous. People told her it was the best cake they ever had--a Baskin Robbins Oreo ice cream cake. Four pizzas, endless bags of snacks, our new patio lights, games and chatter until their parents hauled them away. One girl slept over and they weren't up until 11. Her first party with BOYS.
DH and I sat outside for much of it, admiring our new patio lights and enjoying a nice bottle of rose'. I'm exhausted, but the whole thing probably only cost $125 or so. England in 12 days.
Unbelievably, I spent nothing today. I cleaned the house a bit, weeded the front paths, interviewed a dog sitter, used lots of fridge contents, and did a textbook review.
A number of financial things occurred that are worth thinking through. I spent 90 minutes or so with my prospective dog sitter for our UK trip. She's a former London student, 24, recently graduated, and I trust her. Despite my offer to pay her $25/day for house/dog sitting, she wanted nothing. I can't do that; it's silly and she needs the cash. But she absolutely refused the $400 it should cost, and we came to terms at $250, so that's a nice savings. I know she likes Starbucks and qdoba, so maybe I'll also get her a gift card. The house cleaning reminded me yet again of how much we need a bathroom remodel. Feel free to tell me to stop fretting about this and do the darn thing. Even sparkling clean, it's a horror of 1960 pink beige tile, and there's nothing remotely retro cool about it. Spending the cash makes me queasy, but I have payback plans. And we have the cash.
The textbook review took less time than I thought. The slightly disappointing news is that they pay again with a Tango gift card. I finally used up the other Tango gift card at Target.com with the dehumidifer and iron, and Target.com is really the best place to spend it. So I'll be doing some more Target grocery shopping online come fall. I miss the Redcard 5% savings, but I guess it has to be done.
Now for the rant: I called both Chase and Citi to put a travel alert on our credit cards for our UK trip. Although I'm not a fan of the top management of either of these companies, Chase's credit card services are nothing short of wonderful. You always get a person, not a computer or roboscreener. They're always pleasant, and it's always a nice interchange.
Citi? UGH. I hate them. First, a roboscreener with horrible voice recognition. When I said we were going to the UK, it heard Ukraine. I attempted three or four corrections to no avail, finally shouting at it, and asking for a person. Yes, it was as stupid as it sounds. All I need is an international scam artist with my Citi card in the Ukraine. My DD was hysterically laughing through this transaction, and it got no better when I finally got a human. Despite my insistence that I only wanted to file a travel alert, she tried to sell me half a dozen products. I know they have to do this, so I tried to be as pleasant as possible to her, but grrr--I HATE Citi. It's always that way. I'll dump them when we get back from the UK(raine). End of rant. Onward.
Sunday our basement dehumidfier failed. From my google of the serial number, it appears to be 37-years-old and was here when we bought the house. We tried a bunch of fixes, but it was a goner. Also a goner was the $179 paid for a new one.
And then DD's birthday--not lavish, just an ice cream cake and pizzas for her party. And I may've bought some patio lights at Amazon today for Friday's party. And we took her out to dinner last night and there were a few books and some cash.
And I bought some theatre tickets for London, and had a bra fitting, and bought an expensive bra there. I could go on, but it's just the wrong month for me to be UF. My next best shot is October or November. Better to be just sensible, not frustrated, and have fun.
Yesterday I stuck to my grocery $30 as we didn't need much. I got a free can of beans, and thanks to a generous soul leaving a coupon in the freezer case for skinny cow ice cream bars that doubled, I also got free ice cream bars. We did spend a bit of cash on more London tickets. I bought tickets for DD, her buddy, and me for something called Alice's Adventures Underground. I opted for the matinee to save 15GBP each which I promptly spent on tickets for the London Eye that night. We've done it before, but my DD was about 5 or 6, and she'll be 15 tomorrow.
I went to see a friend's new house today. Very cute house and I'm again amazed at the difference paint makes. I spent another 43 cents on ginger for our stir-fried pork tonight, and then came home and cleaned closets. It was actually fun. I've got some more household tasks tonight--but they'll have to wait until after Masterpiece Theatre!
I had meetings at the university yesterday, and I'm pleased to say that one of my spring semester students won a writing prize. DD and I had our traditional Friday summer lunch out--frugalish with coupons and a Noodles gift card we're using.
The frugal fail came at the mall. I wanted to pick up a baby gift from the Hanna Andersson store for my niece. I used to shop their outlet all the time when DD was little, and their clothes are so cute. I did fine there--and adorable jacket with a snail embroidered on it and a sale shirt. But I made the mistake of going into Loft and trying a few things on. After successfully avoiding buying anything there, I promptly went home, found everything I tried on for MUCH cheaper on their website and bought it. Granted it was less than half the store price, I got free shipping, and 2% back from SB, but I probably didn't NEED it. And it was only $64 for four things--and a black summer cardigan is useful--oh I'm going to stop rationalizing and call it a lapse.
It will be better today. I may limit the grocery spending to $30 and focus on eating through the fridge. But we need milk, eggs, berries, etc.
The 9+ hours in the car on Wednesday have made me achy, and I need a walk. I also need to iron, enter grades, and so some tidying.
After a very long drive from west central Minnesota yesterday, we're home safe and sound. Sometimes I think we take these long uneventful drives for granted, but about halfway home yesterday we saw a young man on the side of the interstate with his car engulfed in flames. We could hear the sirens coming, and he was quite a distance away from the car talking on his phone. What a bad day for him, but he looked unhurt. We spent about $18 on lunch, another $8 on beverages (mostly icd coffee to keep me going), and $30 on gas. I bought my favorite Norwegian lefse for a couple friends, spending $30 there. Despite packing snacks and water, we did spend a fair amount on road food, so I'm planning on an NSD today.
There's all the food DH buys when we're away to use up. That might keep us going for a week at least and we need to start to draw down upstairs freezer food before our UK trip. That should keep us uberfrugal for a few days.
I cashed out $25 in Swagbucks, need to deposit my adjunct check, pick up the CSA box and a piece of marble someone is giving away. I'll either use the marble for pastry making or in the garden. It's hot and humid here so it may be a great afternoon to spend tidying the basement.
It's been a lovely Sunday at the lake--lazy and full of sun. We went on a pontoon boat ride, played cards, ate marvelous leftovers. Tomorrow I'm taking the girls into town, so there will be some spending, but it's a cheap vacation when you're staying with relatives and cooking your own food.
Yep, I can only do a modified this month--I'm at my brother's in MN, and have committed to a few things here as well as DD's birthday later in the month. But we will "eat the fridge" and the pantry--and eat ALL the food. I'll be happy if I can hit 15/31 days as we leave for the UK at the end of the month.
In other good news, I got an offer for a textbook review for $300, and am still (ha!) using the Target gift cards from the last one. Today I ordered a new iron to replace the one I dropped last week and a few things for DD's birthday from Target with no cash outlay. But I did spend $30 on minigolf and dilly bars for DD, her friend, and my brother and sister-in-law.
I also cashed out $25 in SB which will go into the 100K Fund.
My lunch for friends went very well, but after wine on the patio, it was too chilly to eat outside and we came in to eat lunch. Everyone stayed for hours, then I rushed off to class. I spent nothing today, but sure wish I had more leftovers. My classes are over until late August. The highlight of tomorrow is our appointment with the bathroom remodeler. That will likely NOT be a NSD.
I'm hosting a birthday lunch for my university pals tomorrow and have been cooking in spurts all day. I also took DD and two friends strawberry picking yesterday so have made three batches of freezer jam, and have more to go. So far I've made garlic scape soup from the scapes in my CSA box, quinoa salad, and am about to embark on chicken salad with dried cherries and pecans. I've still got cake and Greek salad to throw together tomorrow, but will need to do a bit of housecleaning too.
Tomorrow is also my last evening class until late August. I will still have some capstone projects to read, but it's nice to have NO students to think about.
Any advice beside chicken wire to keep the bunnies out of my raised bed gardens? The little ones have munched their way through my pansies, Italian parsley, and any number of other things.
We've had heavy rains all evening--the aftermath of a very muggy day.
It was a no-spend day here, and I picked up the CSA veggies, some of which went into our pasta tonight along with the garlic scapes. We have a lot of lettuce, so salad on the menu for tomorrow. I need to find ideas for the salad turnips that came with the CSA box. I'm busily dejunking my home office, and scads of paper have made it to the recycling bin. Barclays has raised their savings rates to 1.15% which will help make us a bit more cash. And I cashed $25 out of Swagbucks which went to the UK House fund. Between that and reading a few capstone projects, it's been a quiet day.
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