Remember how I said last week that I needed to step up my lunch packing game? Well, let’s just say that definitely didn’t happen. Lunches this week involved canned soup, apples and peanut butter, and oatmeal with an overripe banana that would have otherwise gone bad. Not terribly unhealthy or expensive, but not overly exciting either except for the blueberries and sugar snap peas from the garden to supplement the meals – those were delicious).
While there isn’t anything particularly wrong with the kinds of lunches I’ve been eating during the week over the past month or so, they definitely aren’t exciting. Some people are really great at eating the same meals over and over again without getting bored, but I’m not one of those people. If I don’t start planning to spice up my options, I’m going to get really tempted to buy better options instead, and I have no intention of starting that habit up again. One lunch out now and again won’t break our grocery budget; lunch out four and five days a week will. So I guess this is to say I’m putting this out there for the accountability of bringing better meals to work.
During the colder months when we eat a lot of soups and stews, it’s easy just to make enough to bring to work as leftovers. This time of year though, our dinners seem to be simpler (usually grilled and salads), so they don’t readily make leftovers in the same way. Not a great excuse though, so it’s time to start prepping meals separately. If anyone has any quick and easy meal suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. One quirky thing about me is how much I hate to fill up my gas tank. I know it’s not a huge deal, but it annoys me to have to make a separate stop just to fuel my car. It’s not the act of refueling though, because it was just as annoying to me when I lived in Oregon and someone else pumped my gas for me. At the point I ever buy a new car, it will be electric. Yes for the environmental reasons, but also because one of the most amazing things I can think of is never visiting a gas station again (or not having a car altogether for day to day use).
All of this backstory is to say that my mom borrowed my car for a short while last weekend and brought it back with a full tank of gas. Such a little thing in the grand scheme of life, but one I so appreciate. It’s been most of a week now and I still catch myself smiling when I turn on my car and notice the full gas gauge. Goes to show that sometimes even a little gesture can mean a lot.
2. One of my very best friends celebrated her thirtieth birthday Saturday night, and for the third year in a row, she hosted a paint and sip night with a group of friends at her house. We brought drinks, another friend brought a cake, we had lots of snacks, and otherwise the only money spent was on (cheap) canvases and paints. And honestly, the ability to stop the YouTube instruction video to take a break to chat makes the DIY version of this kind of night exponentially better than attending a class at a paint studio.
I’ll later be taking her out to dinner just the two of us, and we’ll get more enjoyment – and more time together – for a lower cost than one night out could have been. I’m so lucky my close friends just naturally gravitate to this sort of thing, because there’s no tension about how much money is being spent and instead the focus is on quality time spent together.
3. I booked our flights for another trip to Hawaii for early next year using the Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from opening two Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards (one in each of our names). We’re taking my grandmother and my mother in law along, and the five round trip tickets only cost 125,000 Ultimate Rewards points and $56.00, which is pretty freaking incredible if you ask me. We used the “sweet spot” of booking Alaska Airlines flights through British Airways, which reduced the number of total points we needed, got us on direct flights and we still get to fly on Alaska Airlines, which is the very best airline in my personal opinion.
It was way more confusing to book the tickets than everything I read made it seem (maybe I just have to get more practice at the hoops you have to jump through with travel hacking), but I felt so powerful and successful once those tickets showed up in my email.
Travel hacking seriously all it’s cracked up to be in my opinion. Of course, this ONLY applies if you pay your credit card off IN FULL every month AND you don’t spend more than you would without the card; otherwise, you’re losing money, no matter how great the rewards seem. If you decide you want to dip your toe into the travel hacking waters, here is my affiliate link for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which really appears to be the very easiest/best card to start with.
4. I’m closing in on seventeen months of a full clothes buying ban, and now I’m hoping to make it a full two years. I have to say though, I’m getting to the point where I wouldn’t mind a little more variety in my day to day options, but not enough to where I’ve been willing to buy new clothes to do it. For one, I still have a full closet, and for two, I’m really enjoying spending zero dollars on that part of my budget. And three, I will want to buy either thrifted clothes or ones that are sustainably sourced, both of which will take more time than I want to devote right now (and I refuse to support brands that have these kind of practices).
I totally lucked out though, as my mom has recently been decluttering her closet and passed along a bag of clothes for me to try. While I won’t be keeping everything (I still want to eventually minimize the number of clothes I have in my closet altogether), I kept – and have already worn – a couple of pieces that she was getting rid of. It’s amazing how exciting a bag of gently used clothes is when you haven’t bought yourself anything new in so long. Hedonic adaptation is certainly a real thing, and it clearly extends to clothes buying.
5. Our childcare situation was a little different this past Wednesday, and we found ourselves with a two hour gap first thing in the morning where we didn’t have someone to watch our son. While I do work less than full time, I do have set hours at work and so it would really be best if we could find someone for those two hours. I reached out to my neighbor, and she readily agreed to have him join them for breakfast in the morning and play for a little while.
We may not live in the biggest house or in the newest, fanciest neighborhood, but I would challenge you to find a better set of neighbors than we have. Raising a family takes a village, and we’ve certainly found one here.
Thanks to the change in our normal routine on Wednesday, I didn’t get to run to work that morning. I knew that was going to happen though, so I made sure to go for a good run on both Monday and Tuesday as well as a serious weight lifting workout on Monday after the run. I apparently need to find time to lift more regularly, because I was sore through Thursday, which is ridiculous.
What sort of workouts do you like to do? Are you a cardio or strength training kind of person? I love both, but when I have to choose based on time restrains, I (obviously) choose to run.