Thursday, June 2, 2016

Saving *is* earning for May

This is the rug I got at Kohl's, for free, to go by the door to the garage

Groceries
  • this isn't anything I did, but something that was given to us, for which we were very grateful. At a time when we were needing some fresh fruit in the house, a large tray of fresh grapes were given to us. This saved us a couple of dollars on produce for the month.
  • I made a batch of barbeque sauce, using tomato paste, lemon juice, soy sauce, molasses, honey, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cloves and black pepper
  • made a batch of creamy Italian salad dressing, using mayo, chive blossom vinegar, vegetable oil, garlic granules, onion powder, salt and pepper. Poured into a used Italian Salad dressing bottle. When that ran out, I made a couple of batches of Rhubarb Salad Dressing (using this recipe).
  • used my Senior discount at Fred Meyer on May 3, and saved about $10 overall (included some gardening items)
  • brought calculator when grocery shopping to aid in comparing prices, as well as calculating my grocery total at WinCo, so I wouldn't go over my on-hand cash (WinCo doesn't take credit cards)
  • shopped with a list, and stuck to it (I resisted temptation to buy extras, over and over. That was har at times, but I kept reminding myself of our financial goals to stay on track. Saving now, means a holiday, later.)
  • froze remaining eggs from major stock-up before Easter
  • made soy milk from dried soy beans. Used the leftover pulp (okara) in soy bean patties.
  • used the green tops from the radishes as a vegetable in quiche and frittata
  • all meals were prepared and eaten at, or packed from, home
  • earned a $5.69 "reward" coupon to use as payment at Fred Meyer on groceries to use in the next few weeks
  • prepared all meals at home for entire month
  • made a batch of chive blossom vinegar
  • harvested and dried oregano
Clothing/grooming/health/personal
  • delayed coloring hair by almost 3 weeks, using a touch-up wand for roots (this was mostly out of laziness, but it saved money, so I get points, right?)
  • bought 2 boxes of hair coloring on a B1G1 half-off, even though I still had one box left in the cupboard
  • bought a pair of slippers at Kohl's for $2.20, using a $10 off coupon
  • made a pair of pajama shorts for the summer, from a well-worn bed sheet
Household/garden
  • cleaned 4-year old spots on living room carpet with about 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and a cotton t-shirt rag, followed up by blotting with a white paper napkin
  • scrubbed the deck with a brush and washed off with hose, saving money ($37 rental fee if I had rented a pressure washer) and water (pressure washers use a lot of water, compared to scrubbing and rinsing). Plus, I got free exercise -- no need to join a gym!
  • did house-painting myself, instead of hiring a professional, and used paint we already had in the garage -- saved in the $100s by doing it myself.
  • made another batch of potting soil for the pots at the entry to our house
  • finished planting the vegetable garden, added beets and chard where the spring radishes had been, pulled fall chard out and put in green beans
  • harvested bushels of rhubarb for sauces, crisps, pies, salad dressing and jam (I have 6 large plants, started with 3 root divisions, then divided myself, some to replant, some to give away. 6 plants seems to be the right amount for us.)
  • the day after I bought the slippers at Kohl's, I received another $10 off coupon in the mail. I went back to Kohl's and this time bought a small rug for the door to the garage. We'd been needing something there for several years. It was regularly priced at $19.99, on sale for $9.99. I needed to spend one more penny to use the coupon. In the clearance section, I found another Hallmark Christmas gift wrap bag, for 24 cents (originally $2.99). My total purchase came to 25 cents, including tax, which I paid for with a gift card that I bought at Fred Meyer, when they were having a bonus fuel rewards promotion (4 X fuel rewards on gift cards). I looked at several items at Kohl's. I was unsure about just about everything. But I figured if whatever I bought was practically free, I wouldn't regret it. So, since a rug for that back door had been on my list for years, and it was free, I felt okay with this choice. I can be so indecisive when shopping, I even annoy myself!
Restaurant meals
  • planned my lunches in advance on days when I'd be busy in the mornings or away from home at lunchtime, to avoid temptation to stop and pick up a bite to eat while out.
Gas for cars
  • tracked survey opportunities and filled out 4 online surveys for a savings of 20 cents per gallon
  • saved a total of 70 cents/gallon on one tank of gas, using fuel rewards 
Birthdays/holidays
  • sent a gift that I bought on sale and with a coupon, after Christmas, as a birthday gift this month. I went online to USPS rate calculator, to determine which method and packaging type would be most economical for my gift, and made sure to get it to the PO in plenty of time, so I wouldn't have to send it expedited delivery. Used one of the birthday cards that I bought in April, on clearance at Jo Ann's Fabrics at about 92% off (under 30 cents per card).
  • Mother's Day was spent at home, instead of going someplace where we'd spend money. My daughters provided lunch, and we made dinner out of items I had on hand -- hot dogs, homemade buns, fruited gelatin salad, green salad, leftover pasta salad and s'mores for dessert. For the s'mores -- I'd bought graham crackers at Dollar Tree in early April, chocolate candies on clearance at Dollar Tree after Easter, last year, and marshmallows, on sale and with senior discount almost a year ago. For a "special" beverage at lunch, I made lemonade, using some flat lemon-lime soda, that had been opened when my daughter had a bad tummy virus, months ago, but never used up, plus some bottled lemon juice, sugar and water.
  • sent birthday cards (2) to siblings, one bought at Dollar Tree for 50 cents, the other bought on clearance at Jo Ann Fabric's for 29 cents.
  • I'm crafting some 4th of July decorations
Utilities
  • began the outdoor air-drying of laundry, with racks brought out to the deck
  • switched over to cold/cold on all laundry, after using warm/cold for winter washing
  • bought 3 more soaker hoses to use in vegetable and fruit gardens. These should reduce the water bill, and will last for many years. One soaker hose was placed under landscape fabric in pumpkin patch, and this will hopefully help conserve city water, as well as promote better growth in pumpkin plants
  • I used a timer with appliances, more this month. Using the timer feature on the tumble dryer, with a batch of towels for 20 minutes before hanging to dry, instead of the moisture sensor, which could run for an hour with a full load of towels. I used the timer while simmering chicken bones for stock. I might have simmered the stock for 4 hours or more, instead used a time for 1 hour. Same thing with cooking dried beans, I set the timer.
  • used vegetable rinse water for pots on the deck as well as garden beds
  • am trying out some water absorbing crystals in 2 pots in front yard which always need daily watering in summer. I bought the crystals in a small packet on Senior Discount day (saved 10%). You only use a couple of teaspoons of the crystals per pot, per year, and the packet keeps indefinitely, if in a sealed bag.
  • used the crockpot numerous times in the month
Finances
  • made out budget plan for the month and stuck to it. Paid all bills, in full, and on time (online/by phone when more advantageous to do so)
Fun stuff
  • one daughter really wanted to see a play at the Seattle ACT theater. Instead of buying a ticket, she volunteered to usher, and saw the play for free.
  • both daughters and I enjoyed a free breakfast the day before Mother's Day. We each had a free pastry on our Panera cards (birthday -- Panera is really generous with expiration dates), and used gift cards (for girls) and one free drink card (me) at Starbuck's for beverages. (Back in December, the barista made a couple of goofs on my decaf pour-over. She eventually got it right, but because I had to wait for 15 minutes or so, she gave me a card for 1 free drink, up to $5.)
  • my husband got 2 free tickets to a movie and took one daughter
  • one daughter had a performance on campus in mid-May, one evening. It was free to attend, and I would have to drive down there anyway to get her afterward. So I met up with the other daughter, brought a picnic dinner for the two of us and we enjoyed our dinner in the late afternoon sunshine on the grass. I packed: slices of quiche, individual containers of salad and pumpkin bread. Really enjoyable evening! And it was FREE!
  • son and his girlfriend went to the second performance of the same show, a week later, for a free date
  • Mother's Day dinner was a cookout around the fire ring. Homemade hot dog buns, hot dogs bought with Senior Discount, for 71 cents/package, green salad from garden, rhubarb-blackberry gelatin salad from garden, s'mores made with Dollar Tree graham crackers, marshmallows from pantry, and clearance Easter chocolate candies from last year.
Freebies
  • a tray of red grapes and 2 tangerines from church coffee hour
  • 1 loaf of Sara Lee bread (Friday Freebie)
  • a gift of some tea and a nice chocolate bar
  • 3 pastries at Panera
  • 1 free beverage at Starbuck's
  • 2 candy bars from Fred Meyer (Friday Freebie)
  • 1/2 pound of fresh strawberries from church coffee hour to take home
  • downloaded an entire album through Freegal onto my laptop
  • 1 layer cake
  • 2 pounds of mushrooms
  • several sandwiches and fresh grapes

28 comments:

  1. Your efforts are really telling. I love the rug you got for the garage door, very pretty.

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    1. Thank you, Carol! I am loving the rug more and more each day.

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  2. What is your method for recording everything that you do in the savings world? Do you record it as you do it? At the end of each day? How much time do you spend doing it? I know that it is an important part of your job as you do comparisons and look at trends.

    Do you keep track of other things besides finances?

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      When I have down time, I take a couple of minutes to update my savings journal for the month, every day or two. I'd guess I spend about 3 minutes per entry in thinking and typing, so maybe 2 1/2 hours over the course of a month. It really helps me stay motivated. As a homemaker, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you're not doing much each day. When in fact, most of us are putting in long hours every day, 6 and sometimes 7 days per week.

      When i want to break and old, or set a new, habit, I do some journal tracking. When I had a few pounds to lose a year ago, I tracked my exercise and food intake to see where I needed to make changes, and where I was already doing well. I definitely spotted trends (reaching for creamy sweets when stressed, not spending enough time each day in quiet meditation/deep breathing, skimping on breakfast, not sleeping enough each night), and I made some changes which really helped me. For the calorie and exercise part, I used an online tool where I logged my intake and workouts, and my laptop journal for other stuff.

      And then I've tracked non-practical things, too. I guess I just like doing this.

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    2. I don't do it all the time but I like tracking things. Actually, I like analyzing the data after I track it. I find when I do track something, I automatically do it better.

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  3. Wow, you've been so busy, Lili. :) That rug is beautiful. I like that you tracked how many free items you received in May.

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    1. Hi Belinda,
      Thank you! Yes, tracking the freebies reminds me of the many blessings in my life.
      It's been a physically busy month. I'm hoping for a lighter workload June.
      I like the rug, too! I wasn't sure about it in the store, but getting it home, I really like it.

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  4. Ditto Belinda's comment--the rug is gorgeous. Hopefully it makes you smile when you look at it.

    Good work on managing your expenses!

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    1. Thank, Kris!
      It does, and I like the color scheme of the blues and the dark brown. It feels peaceful and calming. And the fact that it was free, well, that just makes it perfect!

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  5. All I can say is WOW! I just can't imagine how much time and effort it takes to remember all the deals you get each month and all the details so I'm guessing you journal each day.

    All I can remember is how much money is falling out of my pocket all day long every day. I am not sure what is going on but everyone needs a piece of our pie.

    Hubby did well with groceries and though it doesn't look like much (fridge is still looking empty) but we needed those items that are not seen or used regularly. But it seems there are plenty of other expenses--dentist for 5 people, a car repair, medical bills etc. I had my turn in the dentist chair and I have a cracked tooth needing a crown--is this age related, perhaps? I knew and planned for the summer to have more expenses since there are summer taxes, car insurance, house insurance and kids at home so I just need to breath through this.

    We also hang out all our laundry to dry on the clothesline outside and I love how the sunshine works it's magic. We're not turning on the underground sprinkling system this year and we bought no flowers for anywhere around the house, only herbs and veggies are now in my pots. We prepare and eat all our meals at home in the patio and we enjoy that a lot. I don't shop at the big stores for anything unless I really need something. I am looking for a new electric frying pan and I would like a new large skillet for the stovetop--it's on my list but not urgent.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh, ouch! I hope your cracked tooth isn't giving you a lot of pain. Once the crown is done you won't have to think about it any more. But not much fun in the meantime. I just have one crown, but I understand what you're going through. Do you have dental insurance? Or will the dentist give you a price break without insurance? Pay in full, upfront vs. billing? My husband negotiated a $50 savings on the latest dental work, by paying with a check, up front at time of appt, instead of using credit card or billing for services.

      You know, I think herbs and vegetables make beautiful plants. On our deck, in a seating area, I have pots of herbs, as well as flowers. I've got basil, thyme, lavender and rosemary all right there. The herbs do flower, so they're quite pretty.

      I hope you find the electric frying pan and new skillet that you're after!

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  6. My biggest save this month was probably on our trip to LA. My daughter had a hair cutting class there. She paid for our airfare & hotel. I talked a friend into going with us on the trip so that I'd have a touring buddy. This friend stayed in the same hotel room, reducing my daughter's cost by 1/3. We ate a total of 5 meals out during our 3 1/2 day stay. My daughter only joined us for 2 of those because her school fed her lunch each day. Each of those meals was less than $10, which seemed pretty good to me considering we were like fish out of water in LA. I packed a breakfast cake which we ate each morning. I also packed snacks and a refillable water bottle. We visited a couple of free attractions. We rode the city buses and train and took one Uber ride to the airport the last day for time purposes. (We also took 3 taxi rides during our stay, but they were well worth the expense to our harried selves.) I bought a few inexpensive souvenirs for my kids back home, but nothing for myself (nothing I wanted anyway.) My daughter got certified for taking her hair class, my friend and I had a good time, so I call the trip a success. Melissa P.S.--One of the shirts I wore in LA was one I picked up at Kohl's w/ the $10 of coupon, which made it $2, including tax. I also wore a pair of capris that my daughter made for me out of a pair of hand-me-down jeans.

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    1. Love that, Melissa! It sounds like you had a great time, without breaking the bank. How was your experience with uber in LA? I"m going to the LA area later this year and will be using uber. Were you at all nervous just being females? I can get uber from the airport to my hotel for about $30, whereas a cab would be about $45.
      Thanks for sharing!

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    2. That was our concern,too. That's why we hesitated for a couple of days. Then one of the other gals in my daughter's class said that she had used Uber 7x during her stay w/ no problems. One night, after 13 hrs away from the hotel and tons of walking, I just wanted to get back to go to bed. I wasn't up to an hr. bus ride, so I told my friend I was going to call a taxi. We waited for 25 minutes for him to arrive. We got to talking with the driver and he finally asked, "Why didn't you just call Uber? They would have been there to pick you up in 5-10 min. and it would have cost you half the price." My friend said, "What, you're trying to give away business?" He was a veteran taxi driver. He just said,"Well, it's the truth." He was very nice to us. So the last day of our stay, I decided to use Uber in the am to get us and all of our luggage to my daughter's school as we had to leave directly from there to catch our flight home that evening. Again, I didn't feel like dragging our luggage on a long walk, then 2 bus rides. Anyway, something was wrong w/ the Uber app on my phone (I'm guessing user error :) We ended up calling a taxi because by then we were late. But that day, my husband worked to figure out the Uber thing for us. He walked me through the process & we caught that Uber ride to the airport. The young man driving was getting his degree in computer tech, so Uber was a side job for him. He was very nice. Anyway, I would totally feel safe using Uber. I wish that we would have figured that out sooner, as it was very easy once I got the app downloaded right. No money exchanges hands & a 20% tip is included in what is put on your credit card for the ride. You can even choose your car. We chose a Toyota Prius as we knew from our taxi experience from the airport to the hotel that all of our luggage would fit. The other godsend for transportation was the train, which had just started running that very weekend down to Santa Monica. Melissa If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. I'm no expert, but we figured things out right about the time it was time to leave:)

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    3. Also, we figured on a $45 fee to get us to the hotel from the airport, but it ended up being $25 (including tip). It was a Saturday night about 6, so I'm sure traffic was lighter than normal. Just saying, it might be cheaper than you think. My husband just told me to get the taxi to make it easy on me that first night.

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    4. Thanks, Melissa. My daughter bought herself a prepaid android tracfone this spring. I'm hoping uber will work on it. As that is the plan. (My daughters are both coming with me to So. Cal later this year.) The bus system can be hit or miss in So. Cal. I looked into local buses, and it would take 2 hours, and a couple of transfers to get from the airport to where we're saying. But once e get there, local buses do work out well for going to a grocery store.
      It really helps to have someone else who has done this, share their experience. So, thank you!

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    5. The Sprouts grocery store was right next to the bus transfer station, so we picked up a couple of things there. Also, Trader Joe's was close to my daughter's school, so it worked out to grab some salami/cheese snacks there for a couple of our meals. Also, just an FYI. We stayed in West Los Angeles at the Four Point Sheraton. The taxi driver who took us to the hotel from the airport said we had made a good choice. He said many out-of-towners stay in East LA because it is cheaper, but it is a very unsafe part of town. He said, "If you want your throat slit, go there." Melissa

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    6. Ack! Good to know about east LA.

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  7. Great job on the savings, Lili. It wasn't a very frugal month for me as it involved travel to help out a relative, but the mission was accomplished. I have been spending my time catching up now, and don't seem to be as frugal when I'm distracted with too many other things. I'm sure June will be better. :)
    Mary

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    1. Hi Mary,
      One way to think of it is this, your frugal endeavors allowed you to make this trip to help a family member, even if the travel itself wasn't as frugal as you'd like. Good job, though. I'm sure your relative was very grateful to have you there. Sending good vibes for a successful June for you!

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  8. I started writing in my journal too, taking inspiration from your April list of "Saving *is*". I already kept a list starting last year of savings due to extra tweaking effort re rebates, affiliate sites cash back like ebates, upromise, mypoints, etc, store points program, credit card bonus category and gift card bonus redemptions, airline mile earnings and redemptions. But these all involve saving due to spending, so I thought that is not going deep enough in frugality territory as I would like. Not spending at all *is* earning, and thank you for that reminder.

    The biggest save this May was on our wedding attire. I could have easily broken down and bought new clothes for husband and me, that would have been the easiest, but instead we managed to use our old clothes. It worked well enough, figured when we are old, no one cares how fashionable our clothes are. My top was dug deep from the bottom of my clothes bin, bought about 15 years ago on clearance, pants was a Kmart freebie (got 2 pants free after points rebate) that I forgot to take with us on our trip, so in brand new condition. I only needed new footwear because my 15 years ago shoe heel broke as I was trying it on a week before the wedding. Then I tried other shoes and they broke in similar fashion, the wedge heel literally crumbled from age. So I bought a heeled slip on from Sears using SYWR points with a $10 surprise point discount, so no cash out of pocket. I wore jewelry from my stash and my purse was an old find from the thrift store about 20 years ago. For husband, only a new pair of pants bought using SYWR points, also with a $10 surprise point discount. Both my slipper and his pants costed around $20 ea, and nothing out of pocket. That was a big save, when originally I budgeted a lot more for our clothes. By saving on clothes, I felt more relaxed about giving a generous gift to the wedding couple.

    I asked my doctor to change my simvastatin Rx to pravastatin so I could start eating pomelo (similar to grapefruit) from our tree.

    We cleared out my dad's old room, since he's moved to a different room, that is closest to the backyard garden, so now we can do some kitchen prep in that room in a more leisurely way, and leave the kitchen for actual cooking.

    I got my gelatin making down pat, costing about .17/4oz serving including the whipped cream on top. We hold back on meal seconds, so that .17 is paying for itself. Also it is low carbs, except for the small amount of sugar.

    I've been throwing our kitchen waste water in the toilet for flushing #1 business....think this alone saves about $8/month. I figure why waste precious good water on toilet flushes. It means cleaning the toilet more often, but we're ok with that.

    Have a fun day!!

    YHF

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    1. Just a P.S....I have no illusion that SYWR program is at best a 50% sale deal when they offer points rebate on regular priced merchandise. Therefore, usually I reserve my points that was earned from a regular priced rebate on clearance and sale finds only.

      YHF

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    2. Hi YHF!
      Good work this month! I love how you cobbled together outfits to wear to a wedding at no extra, out of pocket, cost. That's an area so many folks forget to plan for, then wind up buying a dress or outfit that they may hardly wear again. And so nice when you're able to be more generous with your gift as a result!

      I have an out of town wedding to go to in a year, and I'm already trying to do this as frugally as possible, so that I can even afford a wedding gift. These out of town weddings are a killer, with transportation, lodging, meals out. Unfortunately, this one will be too far to drive (Indiana) and I know no one even remotely near, that I could stay with. I can at least be very frugal with meals, though, and clothing. (Keeping fingers crossed my dress shoes from 17 years ago still hold together!)

      Keep up the good work! And thanks again for the painting tips. I'm putting them to use today!

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    3. These days we don't rack up many airline miles with credit card purchases, especially since being extra frugal with our purchases. So I've resorted to new credit card applications, with sizable miles offer. These usually come with one year annual fee, so I plan not to renew. There is usually a requirement to make a certain amount of purchase by a certain date, so I plan on buying Costco gift cards.

      YHF

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    4. As you can see...I enjoy the subject...

      Looking over my notes, I see a few more frugal initiatives done last month:

      Evoked (is that the right word?) limited lifetime warranty on our kitchen faucet. It leaked without us knowing. Husband found a bowl full of water under the faucet. Fortunately, we had a little used mixing bowl stored under that area. Price Pfister immediately sent parts to correct the leak, except the parts were from a slightly different model. Husband took off the washers he needed from the new parts and cobbled (like that word) what he needed. I emailed back to the company that the wrong parts were sent, so they are sending the correct parts. My husband had told me not to bother, but my logic was now that we evoked the warranty, I doubt we can do it again for the same faucet. Since the cartridge wasn't changed (only the washers and a few other parts were), and should the cartridge fail, we won't have another chance at a replacement. By emailing them for the correct part, now we do.

      Another frugal save on our part, we mixed a cheaper brand and a not so cheap brand cereal to lower the cost per ounce. My husband is the primary consumer of cold cereals, but he hates Cheerios. Recently at Sam's Club, Cheerios was on sale for $2.10/37.5 ounces. So I suggested that he mix this with his other cereals. He actually likes it better, less sugary.

      Also, I found it easy to wash disposable gloves, thus saving a penny each time I use it to tie green onion knots. I've been doing this chore every week, so saving a penny a week adds up to 52 cents a year.

      YHF

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    5. Hi YHF,
      Good job on getting the correct part on your faucet, and finding a workable solution for breakfast cereal.

      I have a nice stash of disposable gloves from my daughters last 3 summers of employment. They've worked in housekeeping on campus, cleaning dorms. Each day they don a new pair of gloves and at the end of the day, instead of throwing them out, they put them in their jeans' pockets. When I'm doing laundry, I come across several pairs per week, and wash them with the laundry, then put in a container. I use these gloves for cleaning chores and gardening, instead of buying gloves. I don't know if I've saved a lot of $, but I'm sure its a couple of dollars. Every last little bit helps.

      Will you and your husband review how this year went financially, at the end of December, beginning of January? I'd be interested to know if you two met or exceeded your financial goals for the year, with all of your efforts.

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    6. Those disposable gloves seem to be a sturdier version than the thin ones I'm saving. To wash my disposable gloves, I just keep it on after tying the green onion knots, then wash my gloved hands in the tub of dishwashing liquid, then rinse my gloved hands (like washing bare hands) then hang to dry.

      Sometimes I question my sanity trying to save pennies, going through so much tedious effort, but in practice it is easier done than said. Once learned, it becomes a habit, done effortlessly without rethinking. This is the goal of our self imposed poverty. We had a choice to continue working a few more years or quit. We cancelled our insurance and sales license, so there is no going back. I crunch budget numbers every month, and do quarterly "net worth" (excluding value of home, car, furniture etc) to gauge savings progress. So far we haven't dipped into principal, so I know we are spending below means. Not exactly so due to inflation erosion of our savings, but if we can maintain living frugally, when we do receive our social security, we'll be able to save again. We are blessed to have a comfortable life, so are our kids who received sizeable gifts from my parents. I'm the only child, so we do things a bit different than most. My parents sacrificed a lot through hard work and living frugally, I guess that's why I want to do the same for our kids and grandkids. The future is so uncertain these days. I see a mechanism being laid where we could have hyperinflation, especially if the Feds succeed with "helicopter" printing and negative interest rates, but that's a big IF, more likely their plans won't succeed and we'll have deflationary depression. Either way, my thinking is to use frugality as insurance against hyperinflation or deflation where cash is king.

      YHF

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    7. Actually, we have been fortunate to capture some nice interest rates in early 2000s with the fixed rate of I savings bonds, and we're in the 5th year of 5 percent interest rates on a few 10 year CDs, plus Fidelity brokered CDs (also FDIC insured per brokered institution) pay better rates than local banks. There are a few other quirks with our financial that make it possible to live well on relatively modest savings. We're not rich by any means.

      YHF

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.