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.

Watching the big kids play soccer

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.

One more photo of our trip, just because

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.

Covered with bees all day long!

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.”

34 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 23)

  1. Oddly enough, I rarely talk money with my real life FIRE friend. But we did talk a lot about the stress of jumping ship early, since they too set off on their FIRE plans before reaching full FIRE.
    And yeah, I can’t blame you for taking the free meal in the chaos of a super long work day. With simple choices like the free meal, I’d say I’m 50/50 depending on how busy the week/day is. I do take home any compostable garbage produced to add to my pile. It’s all about reducing, and nobody is 100% perfect. (I’m sitting here shamefully with my high flush toilets…)

    1. It makes me feel better that you’re at about 50/50 with that sort of thing as well. As one of the few sustainability FIRE bloggers – and as a LEED AP in my work life – I feel the pressure to make the right choice every single time.

  2. Whoa, first time with 2 weeks off? You have a lot of catching up to do. 🙂
    Anything less than 2 weeks off is really rushing it. We like coming back a couple of days early too. It really sucks to go straight back to work the next day.
    Great job with being frugal too.

    1. Yeah, our max before this have been 10 day trips (a full week plus the Friday before). The second week felt pretty awesome. Hoping to make that a more common occurrence now 🙂

  3. it’s good to know the shelf life of a pbj. thanks for that research. i would have eaten it too because pbj’s rock! i would have taken the free lunch. it’s not like you can reverse the packaging process back to the earth. that’s some crazy price for a ride from the airport.

    1. Hah, important research to be sure. And we live a 40 minute drive away from the airport with no traffic, so it’s never an inexpensive ride.

  4. oh, i met a young canadian woman at my friend’s wine store who mentioned “no drink days” to see how quick she could get to 100 in a year. she said one glass doesn’t count!

    1. Oh, I like that count! Though most days that I drink are only a single glass anyway, so I’d have to count those too 😉

    1. I love that since we started our front yard garden a number of our neighbors have expanded into their front yards as well. It’s the best 🙂

  5. $110 or $3 per person…. hmmmm, what to do? LOL! But that’s awesome, 2 no spend days is really good, lately i haven’t been able to string that many together. It’s always one little thing i forgot that gets me

    1. Yesterday was another no spend day, so that makes three in a row! And yeah, the little things make it tough to get to those elusive no spend days. Monday was $3.29, but it had to be spent, so not zero.

  6. I’m glad you guys got two weeks vacation for the first time. It really does make a difference to step away that long every so often.

    Two no spend days is pretty good after being away two weeks. We rarely have no spend days. Aside from buying staples every few weeks, we stop at small shops along the way home to get what we need for dinner.

    1. Yeah, the time away made it extra hard to squeeze out any no spend days once we got back. We used to do the almost daily grocery store trips, but we ended up spending significantly more money that way.

  7. The landscaper has ripped the guts out of our back yard, so soon I’ll have veggie beds to get back into gardening. Looking forward to it. They’ll be in by Spring! 🙂

  8. For something like an already ordered and delivered meal, I’d just take it and make sure to do the best thing possible in disposing of it because it’s not like you’d be saving it by not taking it.

    In general, if there’s a real choice between sustainability and cost, and we can bear the cost, then I make the sustainable choice. We can’t foot the bill for solar yet, for example, but at some point, we will likely install panels even though we aren’t ever projected to make an excess and be able to make some of our money back.

    1. Well, I did have to order the meal in advance, so I can’t argue that on this one. It was more relief that it was a meal I didn’t have to worry about making myself during a hectic couple of days. Hence the guilt 😉

  9. I just had a conversation today with my real life FIRE friend. It’s amazing the difference it can make, because they know you well, and we just had a really good time. I totally get it. 😀

    1. Exactly right! Extra special because we’ve known each other for so long and know our stories so well.

  10. In addition to the frugal vs sustainable conundrum, when it comes to free food at work I have the frugal vs healthy conundrum – my packed lunches are healthier than our free food. I try to achieve balance by choosing free sometimes but not always.

    Two week holidays are amazing !

    1. Oh yeah, frugal versus healthy (and versus quick/easy) is a constant struggle!

    1. I took a 3 week break once. Oh wait. That’s when I had a kid. Totally not the same as what you’re talking about, but I may have forgotten what work was like since I was so sleep deprived 😂

  11. Nice garden:)
    I was thinking of joining your weight loss challenge…but you guys are nuts! haha. (And I am thinking I should not share my steps count anymore! I do in one month what you do in a day!!!

    1. Those step count numbers we were talking (100-120k) were for a week, not a day 🙂

  12. $110 from Seattle airport to back home!? I think the light rail was the better choice. We took it once just to get us closer and took a Lyft after that because we had too big bags and didn’t want to walk in downtown at midnight with them.

    1. We had a group of 5 so would have had to take a larger car, plus we’re in Kirkland so a bit farther. But yeah, that price was nuts.

  13. 10 days has been my longest vacation so far, maybe I’ll go for a full two week one next year when I get more vacation days with my company!

    I always find the process of getting to and from the airport to be such a hassle and an annoyance. If only airport parking wasn’t so expensive! It is nice to have family to help out with the rides though. Nice on the two no spend days!

    1. Yeah, 10 days was pretty rare even before this trip, so two weeks was pretty insane to take. Oh the days of living in South Carolina where we flew out of the Savannah airport – parking is so cheap there!

  14. I’m busy counting and recounting my vacation hours to make sure I can do everything I want to this year. My vacations are usually a few days to a week. Two weeks sounds like a dream!

    I HATE how boxed lunches come with a ton of packaging but it’s really hard for me to turn down free food, yum…

    1. You seem to do a better job than me in general at actually TAKING your vacation time at least.

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