One Year of Blogging Done! Last weekend was the one year anniversary of Oscoey. I can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone! I have learned a lot about blogging over the past year and gotten to know many fabulous bloggers as well. […]
Meal Planning to Save Time and Money I have heard of the wonderful idea called meal planning many times over the past few years and every time I read a post about it I love the idea of having all of our meals planned […]
Going Back to Work
Three weeks ago on a Monday marked a new day in the Oscoey household. For the first time in over three years I am no longer a stay at home mom. I went back to work and the next few months will be a season of change for us. I looked for six months for a job that is a good fit for me and I am pretty sure I found it! It is all very exciting and new and I am sure the first few weeks will be difficult but in the long run it will be better for our family. I have not worked full-time since our oldest daughter was in elementary school and even then it was a retail job so I did not have regular hours. This new job will be my first full-time job with regular hours and I am really excited about it!
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Preparing for going back to work
The last couple of weeks prior to starting work were pretty hectic catching up on last minute tasks that needed to be completed before I no longer had a bunch of time. Laundry, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments and hiring a nanny topped my list. I would have loved to have the entire house scrubbed from top to bottom but we had a busy weekend before I went back and that just didn’t happen. I settled for reasonably clean and a solid plan in place as to when regular household tasks will be complete.
We originally wanted to hire a nanny for morning drop offs but it kept getting delayed and after a couple of weeks of Mr. Oscoey dropping the kids off he didn’t want to give up that special time with the kids so we are going to try and make it work without one. I start before day care opens but hopefully after I have been at work a while I will have some flexibility with my start time. Child care is a major expense for working families and one of the reasons I held out for so long when finding a job is that I wanted to earn enough that we weren’t breaking even with day care costs.
The change from SAHM to Working Mom
The hardest part of going back to work has been the mental part. My kids had a super easy adjustment. They love their school and my daughter is always asking to stay later so she can hang out with her friends more and now she is able to do that every day and she loves it. My son loves his class too and is always smiling and laughing when I pick him up. Sometimes he doesn’t want to leave either. Neither kid has a hard time at drop off so we at least do not have that to add to the stress of returning to work but I am still having a bunch of mom guilt about going back which is totally normal. It hit me really hard this week when we all came down with the flu. My husband and daughter had it first and I went to work on Monday and Tuesday not being the one at home with a sick kid all day and even though I knew Mr. Oscoey would be an awesome care taker of her it was still hard. My job the past few years has been to take care of the kids and I was always the one to care for them when they were sick while my husband went off to work. Needless to say Mr. Oscoey did an awesome job and I am really grateful that he was able to stay home with her.
Family time is more precious
The biggest challenge for me the past week weeks with working has been time. I have been trying to spend a little bit of time with each kid every day. My daughter gets up with me in the morning and we eat breakfast together before I leave for work. After school I try and get some alone time with my son for a bit before bed time. We have had really busy weekends the past few weeks with a day trip to visit Bellingham, two school auctions, Easter, birthday parties and the usual weekly family activities of dance/gymnastics class. It has been a challenge to fit everything in and I am definitely going to have to scale back my gardening this year but I am more focused on the family when we are all together and as an added bonus since the kids are not home all week making messes the house cleaning has gotten easier. I am looking ahead in our calendar and we have a few full days free on the weekends and I think we should spend some of that time on family day trips to maximize family bonding.
The one thing I have been missing since I went back to work has been the ability to exercise regularly. I worked pretty hard to get back into a great exercise routine the past six or so months and one of the things I had to give up when returning to work was my weekly Stott Pilates sessions. I miss it quite a bit. I am on a waiting list for if a spot opens outside of work hours but I am afraid if I wait too long I will lose all of the progress I worked hard for. I also miss my semi-regular long walks with a good friend. We have been walking for over a year and I will greatly miss our talks and the opportunity to get some much needed exercise in as well! Now that the weather is starting to get better I am going to try going for shorter walks in the evenings in my neighborhood after the kids go to bed. I am also going to try and locate a Pilates studio near my work so that I can continue my progress. I am pretty exhausted when I get home from work but I sit at a desk all day long so exercising after work is a necessity for long term health.
The first few weeks back to work have been a season of change in the Oscoey household. How has going back to work after a period of being home changed your household?
Indoor Seed Starting Time It is that time of year again when I start to think about what seeds I need to start indoors. This is our third year gardening at our house and the second year for us starting seeds indoors. Last year […]
I have been taking a break from the blog the past week or so and just been interacting a little bit on Twitter. I thought I would stop in and talk a little bit about end of life planning. One of my close relatives is […]
We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what we need to do to get us there. Even though we had an expensive month with a hot water heater replacement and unexpected car repairs we were still within budget on the expenses we were focusing on.
One of our main focuses this month was our food. I am sure that if you have been following my posts on Instagram and Twitter displaying some of the meals we have eaten that we tend to eat the same thing over and over again. That is one of the ways we save money. We bought a huge chunk of pork from Costco and my husband broke it down and made several things out of it including breakfast sausage, garlic meatballs, and what we call basic cooked pork which is pork cooked in a pan with salt and pepper. Basic cooked pork is very versatile and you can add it to all sorts of dishes such as salads, burritos, over rice, in sandwiches and anything else you could think of. We also ate much healthier this month with many vegetables and more vegetarian meals which I am proud that our meat-loving family was able to do with very little fuss. Our goal was to spend $500 on groceries for January and we ended up spending $430.36! We did this without creating a large deficit in our pantry either and made sure to stock up on our basics as we ran out of them. Too many people fall into the trap of cutting way back on groceries one month and then over spending the next because they run out of basics. We will probably need to buy a few such as rice, flour and more vegetables next month but we are not out of “everything” so we should still be able to keep within our budget. Yay!
One of the things we also did to be Uber Frugal was to cut back on our outings from the house that cost money. This was pretty easy for us since our kids spent most of the first half of January miserable with colds but it did lead to some mischief making due to antsy children. We did purchase a membership to the Pacific Science Center which we will be using regularly and will give us a discount on summer camps but for us the $140.00 over the course of a year was well spent. Sundays there is free parking and we always pack a lunch so the cost per visit if we go only 6 times this year will be less than $25 for our family of four (oldest will have to use free guest passes when she is in town) which comes out to a little over $5 per person which isn’t bad at all. The more we go the better the deal too!
When we were doing the Uber Frugal Month Challenge we noticed that we spent quite a bit of money on clothes last year so part of our focus this month was to reduce that. We were able to score some brand new thick leggings for our daughter and a bunch of clothes for our son in the next size up from our local Buy Nothing group. We also passed on some clothes that our kids have outgrown and other household items that we no longer needed. I am a huge fan of the Buy Nothing Project! We have both given and received some awesome items from the group. Our group has bonded quite a bit and there was even a meetup this month for group members that we missed but I am super excited to make the next one.
Another frugal activity I participated in was walking this month. I have a friend that I walk with pretty regularly but we had gotten out of the groove with the holidays and sick kids. We made an extra effort this month and were able to meet almost weekly for our 2+ mile walk through a nicer neighborhood with plenty of gorgeous views. Fitness is a huge part of being frugal because when you are unhealthy it will cost you more in health expenses. Walking is a great free activity and it also gets you out getting to know your neighborhood.
My biggest takeaway from this month’s challenge was how creative being Uber Frugal made us. We ate some interesting meals and had great fun thinking outside our box with taking the kids for a walk in the rain, reducing our clothing spending and figuring out how to reach our financial goals on paper. We were previously stuck in a spending rut and this month’s challenge was an awesome way for us to get out of it. I am excited for all of our frugalness next month and to see how it will change our spending over the long term.
How did the Uber Frugal Month change your habits?
We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think […]
I have been asked quite a bit lately where the name Oscoey came from. For some reason it always catches me by surprise and I have to wing a response that is short and somehow makes sense and doesn’t turn into an awkward conversation so […]
Well dear readers, week 2 of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge went off the rails a little bit. We had a busy week with sick kids and another family member was ill so I have not done the last 4 or 5 daily tasks from the UFM challenge. I skimmed the emails, but I did not have time to go through and read all of the articles. My goal this week is to catch back up on the reading and sit down with my husband and talk some more about the challenge and complete our tasks.
We did a decent job at keeping our spending down this week. We ran out of coffee though so I had to make a quick trip to Costco (our favorite place to shop) to pick some up. In an effort to prevent a second trip over the weekend I spent some time looking over our supplies and made a bare bones list. Although it may look like we bought a ton, we were basically out of everything. I bought three bunches of bananas so I can replenish our dried banana chip supply (recipe here), raisins (sometimes the only fruit my picky eater will eat), greens, gluten-free bread, fresh fruit, peanuts (a great protein snack), applesauce pouches for lunches and of course diapers. I also bought some vitamin D since we are almost out and they were on sale. I was hoping to buy some pears to make pear sauce out of in a couple of weeks but they were out. The only “extra” I bought was the broccoli and that was only because my son insisted on buying it and who can say no to a kid that wants broccoli?
We did end up having to stop at the store over the weekend to pick up some vegan cheese for the kids and their milk was on sale so we grabbed a bottle of that as well. Our splurge purchase of the week was a pack of popsicles ($4.00) that we ended up getting for the kids. They have been basically sick for three weeks straight and we have been making popsicles out of the juice we have on hand that they never drink but our kids rebelled and we gave in and bought them “real” popsicles. Sometimes you just have to give in to your kids when they are sick so they will get enough fluids. We ended up spending about $145 on groceries for the week but that included high ticket items such as diapers, vitamins and coffee so we did pretty good. We are still under our grocery budget for the month and we should be able to avoid buying groceries for at least another week (although as I was typing this my husband informed me we are almost out of toilet paper).
I will say that you should make your own applesauce and put it in reusable pouches if you can. It is super easy and homemade applesauce tastes so much better (here is my pear sauce recipe). I usually have a supply of both apple and pear sauce in my freezer as well as some in jars in the pantry but this year was not a good year for apples and my usual source of free apples had none to spare. We were super busy this fall with back to school shenanigans and applesauce making did not happen. Needless to say I am not happy about our applesauce pouch habit but sometimes when life gets hectic you have to find small ways to make it easier and buying applesauce pouches so that my kids will have something in their lunches that they will actually eat is one of the ways I am doing that right now.
We did however this week do an excellent job of eating things out of the pantry and the freezer. We pulled these corn tortillas out of the freezer to make both quesadillas and burritos this week and they were delicious! My husband also made homemade chicken stock and made a baked potato soup out of it that was delicious. We used up some sweet potatoes and the last of the Brussels sprouts, found some real (as in cow milk, not non-dairy) ice cream in the freezer to make Banana’s Foster after the kids went to bed. My husband also made bagels from scratch instead of going to the store to buy them and the kids loved eating them toasted with their non-dairy cream cheese. I think next week will be a challenge for us not to run to the store. I did not buy meat at Costco when I went because we had a bunch of turkey that needed to be eaten so next week’s meals will probably lean towards the vegetarian side. We do have a freezer meal stashed away that could last a couple of meals if we stretch it with rice or something similar. It will be interesting to see what meals we come up with in the next week.
We did have a couple of major expenses come up this week. The first being the leak I discovered in my car. I parked it outside in the rain for the first time in a while and when I got back in water was dripping from the lights over my head. We are still under warranty and I am hoping the repair will be covered but I anticipate being without a car for a while since they will have to dry it out. I can’t get the car in for a couple of weeks though and still get a loaner car so I am parking it indoors as much as possible. The other major expense that came up is our hot water heater needs to be replaced. We knew when we moved in two years ago that it only had 2-3 years of life left before we would need to replace it. It is on our short list of repairs that we will be doing this year and I was planning on having it done sometime in March but when I went to do laundry yesterday we discovered it was leaking all over the laundry room floor. Needless to say we will be taking care of that ASAP. We have the repairman scheduled for this week and luckily since we were planning on replacing it soon we have the money set aside for it.
So far I have really enjoyed the UFM Challenge. It has made us rethink our purchases and we have definitely paused before buying something and thought about whether or not we really need it. One of the things that has stood out to me is how expensive it is to feed our kids. I am looking forward to when our garden is in full production and we will have nearly free fresh produce every day!
How are you being frugal this week?