A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: progress

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised […]

Fun Times with Mr. Oscoey

Fun Times with Mr. Oscoey

Mr. Oscoey and I took some time a little bit ago to spend some time together since I have so much more free time now that I have been laid off. We had a great time exploring the Amazon Spheres, Pike Place Market and just […]

The Dreaded Lay-off…

The Dreaded Lay-off…

A little bit ago I was laid off from the job I started last spring. It was very sudden and shocking to me but the job was not going that great and if I had not had the most dreadfully awful week I probably would not have been so upset initially but that is how it worked out. Now that I have had some time to think and have gained some perspective I am eternally grateful that I was laid off. I am now able to find a new (better) job without the pressure of of working at the same time and this is largely due to the support, advice and great financial advice I have received over the past 18 or so months from the personal finance community.

 

salmon and salad
Frugal healthy meals for the win!

You see, if I had not found the Financial Freedom movement and Mr. Money Mustache and then taken a deep dive into the personal finance community two summers ago we would have handled my new found influx of cash much more differently. We would have found all sorts of things to spend our money on and I would be in much more of a panic about suddenly having a major source of income cut off two months before Christmas. But since I have been focusing on saving and we have been living more frugally I know for a fact that we will be ok for a few months even though we are still having to pay for day care during that time. Day care spots are difficult to come by and I need to be available for job interviews so we made the decision to continue to pay for care to keep our spot.

 

I don’t miss my 60-90 minute each way commute!

Since I was laid off we have cut back on our grocery spending, reduced our savings contribution, and cut way back on any sort of extra curricular spending. Christmas will be smaller this year, although not by much for the little kids since I bought most of their presents in August and September and we have put our travel plans on hold until I find another job but honestly I am eternally grateful that we did not rely on my income to make ends meet. I was putting a large percent of my income towards debt/savings and although it is really frustrating to not be able to put more in the bank I am so happy that we were smart about how we spent the money in the first place.

 

spider web tree
Spider webs on our morning walk.

I have been taking my new found free-time to connect with friends, focus on my fitness, spend quality time with my family, and catching up on household projects. I have started swimming laps again and I absolutely love it!  I have also applied for a few jobs with companies that seem like a good fit and I hope to start interviewing in the next couple of weeks. Now that the dust has settled and I have been inspired to write again I will be posting more on the blog and I am super excited about it! I hope you are working on reducing your expenses and building your emergency fund as well!

 

How would you handle an unexpected lay off?

 

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

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. […]

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

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 […]

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

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.

 

Homemade meatballs, homemade hummus, crackers and salad.

 

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!

 

Apparently our son needed “face paint” in the form of stamp ink all over his body.

 

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!

 

Outgrown clothes off to another Buy Nothing member.

 

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.

 

The view on my weekly walk with a friend.

 

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.

 

Tulips coming up in the garden.

 

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?

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

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 […]

Gardening Goals for 2018

Gardening Goals for 2018

Last week I posted a sort of list for our financial goals for 2018. Today I wanted to lay out some goals we have for our garden.  We learned a lot last year about where the best light is for our small vegetable patch and […]

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

Usually this time of year I start looking over our finances for the year, project our income a year ahead and start setting some goals for the year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I am not great at following through with them but I am good at setting some goals for our finances for the next year and achieving a reasonable number of them. This year however everything is up in the air. I am attempting to go back to work in the next couple of months and I am not sure of what my final salary will be. Since I am a pretty precise planner and a little suspicious of counting on future income that may not exist I am hesitant to put numbers down for some of the goals I have in mind. My job search has been pretty wide and I have time so I am making sure that I find something I will love and is a good fit.

 

That being said, everyone should review their “numbers” at the end of the year and formulate a rough outline of where you want your finances to head in the next year.  

 

I can’t emphasis this enough. One of the best things I did for our finances was to start looking ahead towards the end of the year (and beyond) and plan out roughly where our money would go for the year.  Originally most of our goals were about paying down our debt but now that most of that has been paid off and we have moved into a bigger house needing constant work I focus on planning out our house/garden projects, how much we will put into savings and how we are going to pay off our remaining debt.

 

Last year when I sat down and looked things over our goals consisted of paying off our car (check), paying off our credit cards (check, sort of), and putting a bunch of money into savings (not so great). We also planned on several smaller house projects and the gigantic one of putting up a fence so that dogs and kids could roam free.

 

Our gigantic fence project was completely derailed by the cutting down of more trees that were extra expensive and by the water pipe that burst in our front yard in the early fall. We did however redo our pantry, replace our entire chimney cap, update the main bathroom, paint some walls/windowsills that badly needed it, replace light fixtures for ones that use less energy, buy a fridge for the garage, purchase garden supplies to grow our own food and paint our son’s closet. Whew. It looks like a lot when I write that all out! Most of our projects were very small and done on the cheap over a weekend or two. We had two of the 5 trees taken down that needed to be removed for safety. We chose the two worst ones and I am really glad we took care of it. One of them was very close to falling and would have hit our house directly in the center causing a large amount of damage.  The three remaining trees are so close together that they have to be taken out all at once since their branches are intertwined.

 

Dangerous tree chopped!

 

Our expenses for next year will change dramatically when I get a job and with school costs for all three kids (independent of the job). I am still not quite sure what the final numbers will be. Needless to say, I am a little more hesitant to set firm goals this year with so many changes looming.

I am a firm believer in setting some goals you know you can achieve by following your plan, some goals that are just enough out of reach that you have to consciously work at them and some goals that are a challenge and require regular sacrifice and ingenuity to achieve.

 

For next year our tentative goals are:

 

1. Pay off the remaining balance on our student loan.

This goal is one of our easy ones, as long as we stick to the plan! I set up our payments at the beginning of 2017 so that our student loan will be paid off by December of 2018 so as long as we continue our automatic payments we should achieve this one! My stretch goal is to pay off our student loan by the end of April with our tax return but it isn’t set in stone yet.

2. Pay off our credit cards.

We met our goal of paying off our credit cards and keeping them paid every month for most of 2017 but we ended up choosing to put the water pipe on our credit card since it came up unexpectedly and we had already used our yearly home improvement funds for other projects.  Yes, we could have used our emergency fund for it but with so many uncertainties coming up at the start of the year we decided to take on the debt. We should meet this goal for sure by mid-year or sooner if we apply ourselves and put all of my excess salary towards it.

3. Bulk up our emergency fund.

Sadly our emergency fund is a little lighter than we would like at the end 2017.  We had a lot of large expenses and focused on paying down debt versus saving so we did not put as much in there as I would have liked. Our goal is to save up at least one more month’s worth of money in our general emergency fund next year. Ideally we would save up two months worth but with everything else that would be our stretch goal for sure!

4. Invest as much as possible!

Yes, this is a very vague goal! There are so many what ifs that I have no idea how much we will be able to put into our newly opened Vanguard account. I have it set up to put a small amount in there every month but I am hoping for more!

5. Continue to work on the house.

Yay, another vague goal! We do have plans to cut down the remaining three trees that need cutting in the back and building some sort of woodshed for all of the wood we will be cutting. We also need to replace our hot water heater, fix the master bathroom faucet (already have most of the parts), and add/replace fans to the bathrooms and laundry room. Everything else will have to depend on if we have enough in the budget for it and time to get it done.  We need to finish painting window trim (should already have the paint), do touch up paint on a couple of random areas, paint our daughter’s closet, and continue to replace outlets as we have time.  All of those projects are small and can be done as needed. There is also the possibility of repainting the living room but that will be very time consuming and expensive and it might take us at least one more year to get around to it. The trees, fans and hot water heater are our priority for next year for sure!

 

Puppy chewed deck boards that need replacing at some point.

 

I have way more ideas and what if goals in my head but for now these five goals will have to do! I am excited for next year. We met a lot of our goals last year and have been working hard at reducing our spending, being mindful of what we buy and trying reduce our food waste. I will be growing another garden in 2018 and my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of seeds for Christmas so I won’t have to buy many this year.

 

What are your goals for next year?

 

 

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

Hello and welcome to the third installment of our A New Beginning in Budgeting Series! Our first installment was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer” and our second was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our […]