I know I talk about community and friends and family quite a lot, but life is really about the people we share it with, and those connections are ultimately what matter most to me. Having your finances in order, a softer footprint on the planet, and lots of time to travel and explore don’t mean a lot without a true community, at least in my perspective.

Perhaps this is my relentless extrovert self talking, but I don’t think so. Most of human history we have lived in community groups much more closely knit than today, and I think that has value for a lot more than just simple physical survival. And with that, I’ll get back on track to talk about this week’s Frugal Five with my take on why so many of these are centered on experiences, not things.

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. Last weekend I spent Saturday afternoon and evening over at our neighbor’s house to watch their kids while they went to an important one time event. We’d been over on Thursday when I found out that the husband wouldn’t get to go support the wife at her event because there wasn’t anyone to watch their kids due to a last minute schedule change. So I stepped in to help and hung out with the kids so they could go.

It was their oldest daughter’s 12th birthday, and while they had celebrated earlier in the day, I wanted to do something extra special for her and we made homemade pizzas just like my son’s birthday back in February. It was a little hectic and crazy making pizzas with six kids 12 and under, but it was totally worth it as well. And trading help back and forth is just one part of what makes our neighborhood so special. It takes a village to raise kids, and we have our own little one here. (As I’m writing this, my son is hanging out across the street “helping” another neighbor with his yard.

Mixing pizza dough

2. We finished up a new community at work and had a celebration lunch at the property. The food is always excellent, and it curbs some of my cravings for take out lunches during the week. A few coworkers ended up not being able to attend, so not everything gotten eaten that day, which mean I got another free lunch thanks to leftovers. The salad was a tiny bit soggy, but with the best dressing I’ve ever tasted, I didn’t mind one bit. It’s one of those salads that you’d have to pay $10-$12 for, and it’s worth every penny (in the days of me buying lunch, that is).

One work bonus that isn’t often calculated in people’s savings rates / FI number is the free food provided, but it’s a serious boon in my opinion. Of course, this depends on the frequency and quality of what’s provided, but it’s one of my favorite perks outside of the actual job part.

Seriously my favorite salad of all time

3. After having that amazing dinner at the Korean restaurant in Portland last month, I’ve been thinking about that bimbap rice bowl. So when we were at the Asian grocery this past weekend, we picked up some thin sliced beef ribs and some marinade and made our own one night. Bulgogi beef, fried egg, kimchi, and spring garlic (from the garden) over some rice. It was AWESOME, cheap, and a meal that we will definitely repeat. I’m now dreaming of having a dinner party with this recipe, but all the moving parts would make it a little bit more work to scale up to a crowd, though not impossible.

4. Another night this week we went over to my parents’ house and had dinner with them. The dinner was simple, cobbled together with leftovers and easy to make foods, but it was the time with family that was the important park. We went for a walk beforehand and generally enjoyed the warm, sunny weather.

As much as we love living in the Pacific Northwest, the biggest anchor that keeps us here is our ability to see our families regularly, and that our son has such close relationships with his grandmothers, grandfathers, great grandmother, and myriad aunts and uncles.

Hanging out with Papa

5. I was at the library twice this week switching out bags of library books for our son. He asks us to read so many books to him that the variety of the library is needed and is such a better option than the cost (and space needs) that comes from owning that many books.

We had to return one of his recent favorites, No Kimchi For Me*, because there was a hold on it, but he was eventually okay with putting it in the bag to go back so other kids could get to read it. I’m always torn about buying copies of the books he loves best from the library, but there are quite a few of them, and we can always check them out again later. Plus, I believe there is value in him understanding that the library is about sharing resources so that everyone gets a turn.

Side note: I did get to run twice this week so far, plus I got in a weight lifting workout and some hikes through the woods. I’m hopeful that I’ll squeeze in another short one either today or over the weekend, but I’ve definitely upped my activity level the past few weeks.

Do you make time for regular exercise? If so, how do you make sure to get that time in every week?

*Amazon affiliate link.

38 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 19)

  1. Introverts need community to be healthy and fulfilled too! Get really deep and few connections are okay with us though.

    That is awesome your son is crushing so many books! 💪

    My wife and I have two regular sessions scheduled each week with a trainer. Those are non negotiable and rescheduled if one or both of us has work travel/commitments. Then we also have a calendar invite to ourselves to do a weekend workout together on Saturday morning. If we don’t schedule the workouts they won’t happen.

    1. Yeah, why I said I didn’t think it actually was because of my extrovert nature 😉 I’ve heard a number of people talk about the personal trainer trick – especially because they aren’t cheap, it’s extra incentive to make it happen.

      1. Exactly! There is no missing it when you are on the hook for $90 an hour ($45 each). I look at as an investment in the future, just like our other investments.

      2. Amazing how often health is put on the back burner, when the rest of it doesn’t matter without it.

  2. I am terrible at going to the gym on time, even though it’s literally in the building. I did well at New Years so thought i was doing better but then stopped for a few months. Went 4x last week and 2x this week! Feel so much better:)! The bf goes to the gym 4x a week at exactly the same times and occasionally he teaches me weight lifting. I can now bench press the 45 pound bar + 10 pounds! I know, that’s basically nothing. But I’m weak, ok! Gotta start somewhere, haha.

    1. That’s not nothing at all, especially if you’re doing it with good form! 🙂 I looooove the gym but haven’t gotten to go nearly as often as I like now that I have a kid.

  3. i look forward to the frugal 5 every week. you must be putting some addictive additive in the sauce. the free food at my work is usually junky. think donuts, pizza and wings (it’s buffalo). that’s really great that you and the neighbors have that trust with one another’s kids and that they know their grandparents. that has such tremendous value. i’m glad you got out to run. i’ve gotten in a couple of 3 milers, albeit with the dog so stopping and starting a little more. i want to report 4-5 next week as i’ve no time constraints for an excuse. rock on!

    1. Ha, you just can’t miss a life update I guess 😉 We occasionally get doughnuts and pizza, but more often then not it’s really great sandwiches and salads, which are a lot healthier and delicious. 4-5 days of running next week – I expect a report back! 😉

  4. Hahaha a Fitbit challenge couldn’t be helping with increased activity at all, could it? 😉

    Every time I think about moving somewhere far away I’m reminded how awesome it is that I’m close enough to my parents to be able to drive there for the weekend and that gives me pause. But the good thing about having a huge extended family that’s all over the place is that pretty much anywhere I move (provided it’s in this country), I’ll probably have at least a great aunt or uncle somewhere within a few hours.

    1. It doesn’t hurt, for sure. You need to sit down occasionally 😉 Being driving distance to family is the best, especially since we have experience of when that wasn’t the case.

  5. What a great experience for those children to learn the value of cooking at home. Plus homemade pizza is way better than most fast food pizza and fun to make. You get worlds best mom award. Happy early mothers day.

    1. They do a bit of cooking at home as well, but homemade pizza is so much fun to make (if a bit messy).

    1. Oh yeah, he gets very excited to go to the library / when I come home with new books 🙂

  6. Learning to share ressources is a great lesson to be teaching your son thru the library!! #librariesrule

    I exercise several times a week and pick out classes at my gym (membership included with my job) and I set my intention on going. Sometimes I fail, most times I succeed. Also playing intramural sports totally helps – it doesn’t even feel like exercise 🙂

    1. I played softball through college and then played on an intermural slow pitch team a couple years later. It was so much fun 🙂

    1. Sorry, have never seen Seinfeld, but that’s less about age and more about how little television I’ve watched in my life 😉

  7. I’m trying to train my son to be a library addict too but man, the library is amazing!! I borrow about 5-7 books each week (board books) and then return them the following week and borrow some more. Here in Vancouver there are no late fees for children’s books borrowed on a child’s library card 🙂

    I workout 30 minutes 3 times a week and fit it in because I just do HIIT/ Youtube videos and I get in the odd run. I really should get a jogging stroller but I like to run by myself anyways…

    1. Whaaaaaat no late fees for kid books??? That’s amazing.

      My son is not a big fan of the stroller, and I’m with you that I prefer to run by myself anyway.

  8. Getting free food was definitely one of my favorite perks of work. My coworkers and managers use to heat up and make our own shabu shabu *which if you’re into Asian food, you would love!*

    Did you get a marinade at the store or did you make your own? I tried both ways but the store brought ones just taste better.

    1. Haha you’d make that at work? That’s awesome. And we bought the marinade (uwajimaya) and it was sooooo good. I’m going to attempt my own in the future but doubt it will be as good.

  9. Libraries might be the first of the ‘sharing economy’ that’s popped up. In the past decade there’s a huge sharing economy that’s been growing in our city. Most of the sharing economy (anything from tools, work spaces, cars) came into existence from lack of space or money, but it still has all the fringe benefits, like environment etc.

    Your work lunches you snag always look so tasty! Free food always tastes twice as good I find.

    1. I love the sharing economy so much. One more reason why our neighborhood community is so great 🙂

  10. I’m seriously jealous of how close you are and how often you get to see and spend time with your parents. It’s definitely something that’s a bummer as I’m pretty close with my parents and yet only really see them at most every other month. Perhaps that is something that will factor in to where I eventually live long term!

    Side note – just finally ordered a new band for my Fitbit so may need to join your Fitbit challenges! 😉

    1. Every other month still isn’t so bad… I definitely appreciate the proximity after living in South Carolina for a time.

      And Erin sure puts up some intense competition with the Fitbit!

  11. I love the free food at work- it’s absolutely a frugal benefit! And it seems like nobody ever wants any of the leftovers, so I often have even more meals 🙂
    On the work out question- I work out the same time every weekday, and it’s in my calendar, along with all my other commitments. I very rarely book something at that time (has to be veery important) because I know I will not work out late in the day, so it can be hard to reschedule. Most of my work outs are group fitness classes, and having a community keeps me accountable. I have to burn off those free lunches!

    1. I think I would do well to schedule in my workouts. I have a tendency to let them slide as “less important” when something else comes up, but health really is the most important thing.

  12. I usually wait until the babies are asleep to work out. Since it’s been nice I’ve been running, which I actually really enjoy because I get to listen to my iPod, but I have a nagging muscle in my hip that’s been sore. It sucks to get old.

    1. Running time is podcast time for me 🙂 I have bad hips so it’s a constant struggle, but stretching and yoga help a lot.

  13. The pizza party seems to have been good fun, at least for the kids 😉 .

    Oh the libraries… On my recent trip to the US, I realised that my biggest envy with respect to Americans is the access to such beautiful, free public libraries.

    In my office (a big private Indian bank), the canteen offers subsidised food and not free food. However, the biggest blessing for me is the free gym. So, I try to get in a little early and make the most of it by working out here before starting work.

    1. I LOVE our libraries! Such an important thing to equal things out a little bit on the income front as well.

      1. Now I would love to get to some of the fabulous libraries on the east coast!

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