We returned from our two week road trip last weekend, and we’re back at work this week. Two weeks is the longest we have ever taken off work at one time (outside of having our son, which doesn’t quite count as “vacation”), and I have to say that I’m hooked. I’m hopeful that we can find the opportunity to take two weeks at a time more often in the future, because there is just so much more you can do when you aren’t constrained to a five to ten day trip.
We decided to return Friday afternoon instead of pushing the trip to the very limits of our day off, which was a very good idea, because we were able to have a full weekend to get back into the routine of being home before the work week started again. It’s hard to make that argument when you’re working with a shorter time frame, but with a full sixteen days off, we felt pretty good about returning early.
We hit the ground running with work this week though, and I’ve had two evening commitments just this week plus an extra long work day. The long days do really make me appreciate my shorter work schedule though, and I then make sure to have some fun afternoons at the park with the kiddo to make up for it. I’m so thankful I don’t have to work full time hours, and I wish more people had that opportunity available to them.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. We arrived back at the airport on Friday during rush hour, and looked up what it would cost to take an Uber/Lyft home. It would have been $110 for all of us, plus an hour or more thanks to traffic, so instead we took the $3/person option and took the light rail instead, which is also a way superior option environmentally. My father in law did have to pick us up from the light rail station and drive us the half hour home from there, which we really appreciated, but no matter what it was considerably cheaper than hailing a ride directly from the airport. That and our son absolutely adores any sort of train ride, so he will always choose the light rail option when given a choice.
2. Our dinners this week included an “emergency” Costco freezer meal as well as a super simple breakfast for dinner of eggs, sausages, and toast, so even though it’s been a crazy week back we haven’t resorted to our old habits of take out all the time when life gets busy. I also had two lunches in a row of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were left over from our plane snacks, so I didn’t have to spend money or time on them, and I didn’t waste food.
I did briefly consider the shelf life of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – five days unrefrigerated – but it tasted fine, so I figure they last at least that long.
3. One of the neighbor girls watered our garden while we were gone, and the plants had completely taken off in the intervening two weeks. We’ve since harvested our first strawberries and some of our tomato plants have set fruit. Our son’s wildflower bed is completely swarming with bees all day long, so my husband has decided we need to plant at least two more beds for them next year in order to continue to support our local bee population.
In exchange for the help around the garden while we were gone, we have told that family they can come up and pick as many berries as they like once they’re ripe (which their youngest has already taken to heart this week). They have their own garden as well, but not all the same produce, so we’ll certainly exchange fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Our berry plants are quite well established at this point and they produce a lot of fruit.
4. I’ve had two no spend days so far this week, which is nothing to be particularly proud of in general, except for the fact that the knowledge that they could be no spend days were what kept me from spending a bit of money. I was tempted to grab lunch just for the heck of it, and I was tempted to stop for a coffee during the short break between work and my evening event on Wednesday.
Neither almost purchase was for a good reason, other than sounding nice during a hectic week. The whole purpose of starting a “no spend” challenge back in November was for exactly that sort of thing, so it’s clear that I need to continue to keep track even now. I may have mostly broken the habit of mindless spending, but it’s an easy thing to creep back in over time.
5. We were fed a boxed lunch on the evening tour I attended Wednesday after work, so my dinner was covered that day. Nothing terribly exciting, but free, and I appreciated that after a hectic week I didn’t have to worry about feeding myself that night. Of course, the box lunch came with individual packaging and a plastic water bottle, which always makes me a bit uncomfortable for making the free choice. Many times, sustainability is in harmony with frugality, but not always.
Thanks to The Smart FI’s June Weight Loss Challenge, I have extra incentive to get in my workouts right now, and I’ve managed to run four more times since last week, including one with my real life FIRE friend. I absolutely love the online personal finance community, but there’s something really awesome about being able to talk about 401k matches and savings rates in person with someone who has known me since high school.
What do you do when faced with the money saving versus earth saving conundrum? I generally go the sustainability route, but I do occasionally get trapped in the siren call of “free.”