Apparently Tuesday was the darkest day in the last two years with almost no sun output (0.55 mJ/m^2, if you’re counting). The good news is, we aren’t even to the shortest day of the year yet. Oh wait. Perhaps that isn’t good news. I do love the Pacific Northwest, and I do love the holiday season, but these short, dark days make me so tired, especially since it’s been either bitterly cold or pouring down rain most of the last few weeks, so we haven’t gotten outside near often enough.
So glad we are going to Hawaii for a week later this winter so I don’t have to wait until May or June for there to be sun again. I think we may need to make a tradition of finding the sun and warm some time in the middle of winter every year from here on out.
Ps – yesterday was my birthday, so I’m now officially 31 years old. I decided that posting three times a week is more than enough though, so I didn’t write anything in particular. I did write something when I turned thirty last year, and the sentiment in that post still stands.
I did have my biweekly commission meeting the evening of my birthday, so I made cookies to bring to everyone to celebrate my birthday. If I had to spend my birthday at an meeting, at least I was going to do it with homemade chocolate chip cookies.
All in all, getting older is something I look forward to, because after all, it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative. Cheers to thirty one.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Thanks to using Bing as my regular search engine instead of Google, I earned another $5 Amazon gift card. It might not be a huge amount of money (perhaps $50-$60 a year), but it feels like earning something from nothing, so I’ll take it. For whatever reason, transferring that $5 to my Amazon account to use for my next purchase feels great, even if it isn’t going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Regardless, I’ll take it.
2. That Frugal Pharmacist just got back from a three week trip to the Big Island of Hawaii where she purchased a great used guidebook. Since I’m headed back there in the next couple of months, she offered to mail it to me when they returned. I do most of my trip research online these days, but sometimes it’s nice to have a physical book. The kiddo has also been loving flipping through the pages and exclaiming about the lava in particular, so I expect it will get some good use before we even take the trip.
In the same parcel of mail, she also shipped pieces of a piggy bank that attach to a mason jar. Seriously the perfect after we had been talking with the kiddo about getting him a piggy bank. He decided he wanted a unicorn one, but we couldn’t find one non-porcelain one online, so this one was perfect. Granted, the mason jar part isn’t exactly non-breakable, but at least it’s easily replaceable. And so far, he’s being very careful with it (and super excited for the penny/dime/quarter/change he gets for feeding the dogs now). I’m not sure he quite gets the money thing yet, but it’s a work in progress.
3. Now for an absolutely not frugal part of our week, but an important part. I took our cat and one dog to the vet on Monday and spent a full $500 on the trip. The cat was for his annual check up, deworming medication, and bloodwork now that he’s 9.5 years old and technically a senior.
The dog has check ups and bloodwork done about every three to four months now since she was stabilized after being admitted overnight last year for heart problems. She’s done extremely well on her heart medications, but her kidney levels have been high over the past year, so we’ve been monitoring them as well as transitioning her to a special kidney diet dog food. I got a call the next day from the veterinarian that her kidney levels were back in the normal range!
Considering it looked like at the beginning of this process that she would likely have just six to twelve months left with us, it feels pretty amazing to have her still around and doing so well sixteen months after her diagnosis. She may have single handedly been the reason for us coming up just short of that 50% savings rate this year, but she is so dang worth it. Here’s to hoping for many more years with our big, lovable, smelly, not so smart, adorable, patient, 115-lb dog.
4. I realized that I forgot to include my no spend days in my monthly update for November, so I thought I would share that here. We ended the month with twelve no spend days, which ties the record for our best month in that regard. Of course, it was not even close to our lowest spending month for the year, which goes to show that no spend days on their own are no panacea.
While they may not be the solution on their own, I’m certain that committing to as many no spend days as possible in November, our overall monthly expenses were considerably lower than if I was not tracking that metric. While they don’t help with the big expenditures, I’ve found that no spend days are excellent for cutting out the smaller, unnecessary expenses that tend to rack up without much thought.
At maybe $25 a day, 12 no spend days in November saved us a good $300 or more. Not a make or break amount in our budget these days, but they add up to thousands of dollars over the course of the year.
5. I had a car free commute on Tuesday for the first time in at least a month and it felt so good. I’ve definitely been missing my runs to work lately as well as the ability to just leave my car at home. I did a decent job of having alternative commutes before I had a child, but I’m realizing that I could have gone almost entirely car free in those days. I did need my car at work on occasion, but I likely could have left it there a good four days a week.
For now though, I have to shuttle the kid around to different childcare situations most days of the week (my husband works longer days so can usually pick him up just one or two days a week). Perhaps when he’s older and in the elementary school that’s walking distance to our house I will get back to more car free days.
My work days have been a exceptionally long this week, so I didn’t have as much time to work out than a typical week. I did squeeze in twenty minute elliptical workouts both Friday and Monday, but I had no time on Tuesday since I worked straight past my normal end time and didn’t get home until almost dinner time.
Wednesday was a twenty minute run, but I didn’t manage any weight lifting workout at all this week. I have to say, I am so glad I’ve started to work in my plainclothes short elliptical “runs” lately because I got in significantly more workout time than I would have otherwise. This week reminded me yet again that I am so glad that I work a reduced schedule. I may have longer weeks sometimes, but they’re still shy of forty hour weeks and significantly less than some hours I used to work. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a reduced work schedule, I would highly recommend it. I’ve never once wished I had the extra money instead of the extra time.
Does your work give an opportunity for a reduced or flexible schedule? Do you take advantage of that, or would you if it were an option?