This week went by in an absolute blur. We’ve had a ton to do around the house and I have a commission meeting this week as well, which makes for some long evenings. I don’t regret saying yes to the position, but it certainly makes some weeks a little bit crazy.
I haven’t had hardly any down time, so I’m going to keep the Frugal Five short this week. Short, but I’m still sticking to my regular posting schedule because I know that if I allow myself to skip a post or two I’ll lose this momentum of writing two times a week. This blog may be a hobby and not a business, but it’s a hobby I very much enjoy and want to keep it up, even if a particular week feels a bit overwhelming. With that, onto the Five.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Saturday was the first car free day we’d had in quite a while, and it was awesome. Before I had our son, I took the bus, ran, or biked to work at least a couple days a week, but since having him, it’s been hard to manage more than once a week. I definitely miss the days of being less tethered to my car, but that’s one downside of living in the neighborhood we do. We have awesome trails behind our house, amazing neighbors, and a grocery store and a few other shops a few blocks away, but anything more than that requires a trip off “The Hill,” which usually means getting in the car. With enough time and flexibility, we can walk or take the bus, but we usually don’t have the time for that.
Our son’s preschool that he attends two days a week isn’t right near my work, so that drop off/pick up adds maybe 6 miles to the round trip plus a more convoluted bus schedule. If he went to the preschool nearest to my work, the cost would be double (and we aren’t even at a cheap location – he’s at a great Montessori, it’s just a little ways outside of downtown). Though if he were there, it would be about a thousand times easier to leave my car at home on those days. All of which is a round about way to say that being car free on Saturday was absolutely fabulous, and I want to figure out a way to bring more of those days into my life, partially for the environmental and financial benefits of not driving, but also because I just hate driving. I can’t wait for the day I can give up driving altogether.
2. While I’m talking about the cost of childcare, I want to include something in my Frugal Five this week that’s a frugal win of a lifetime, not just this week. My mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law watch our son a combined three days a week, which is why we only pay for two days a preschool.
If we had been paying for full time childcare when I was looking at reducing my hours at work, I’m not sure I would have done it. While we have a quite a buffer now financially that would still make sense even with that increased cost, we were spending quite a bit more that first year of our son’s life and it would have felt pretty daunting to reduce my income, even though it’s worked out to be one of the very best things I’ve ever done.
Not only is this a MASSIVE cost savings, but it’s also irreplaceable in terms of the connection our son has with his grandmothers. And really, that is worth more than any dollar amount.
3. It’s rained a couple of times this past week, so we haven’t had to water the garden, saving both money and water on our utility bill. At the same time, we’ve been harvesting strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, garlic scapes, kale, and snow peas, so the garden has been a net positive financially this month, especially since most of our recent harvest has been of perennials that take very little maintenance at this point. If you’re new to starting a garden, know that down the line it gets a LOT more rewarding in terms of hours/financial input compared to output of produce.
4. My friend and I walked to happy hour on Monday night, and we made it to the restaurant with just twelve minutes to spare. We got going a little later than we probably should have, so we had to speed walk there, but it turned out to be a good workout along the way. We had a fabulous dinner paired with a drink for just $20 each, which is pretty awesome considering the quality of the restaurant we went to. I am such a huge fan of happy hours because you can get better food for less money than you would at a typical chain restaurant outside of happy hour.
5. I forgot my lunch yet again this week. You’d think by now it would be a habit, but no, my wonderful leftovers were left in the fridge at home (though I did finally eat them on Thursday – success!). But thanks to a stash of emergency food on hand – Moneyscrap does a great job of describing it here – I did have a can of soup to feed me for that day instead of going out to eat. I had already gone out to grab lunch one time this week (the second time in eight months), so I absolutely couldn’t allow myself to buy take out again.
While in the grand scheme of things, an extra lunch out won’t totally derail our savings goals, we have a tendency to way overspend on food and I know that it would be way too easy to let it slide overall. I have no problem spending a bit more money on food than is absolutely frugal, but it needs to be an intentional choice, not just because I forgot my lunch.
It’s the final week of The Smart FI‘s June Challenge, and it’s going to be close whether or not I hit the lofty goal of 500,000 steps this month, but Saturday’s 32,000+ steps definitely helped. I may not have run over the weekend, but hiking up our hill definitely counted as exercise.
I did run on both Monday and Wednesday, though not to work. I finally feel like I’m getting into a real routine of regular exercise again that’s more than just one day a week and some walks besides, and it feels great. Wednesday was a 45 minute run and it wasn’t a big deal at all. I’d love to work back up to a half marathon again some day, but for now, I just don’t have the time to commit for regular long (8-10+ mile) runs. Regardless, I’m very happy with where I’m at and that running is no longer an afterthought where I feel guilty for taking the time over some other commitment.
How good are you at “self care” time? How do you make sure to work it into your weekly routine?