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.

Running Update

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?

35 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 50)

  1. I love your perspectives on birthdays! Birthdays are seriously one of my favorite things in the world, but I know a lot of people dread them. Thanks for being excited about yours! It makes me happy! And seriously, go celebrate this weekend with something fun!

    1. I love that you love them as much as I do! Seems like the number of us who feel that way dwindles with every passing year. Lol

  2. After months of seeing your Bing gift cards, I finally joined up last week. Apparently I had 2k points already from before! I do my 150pts/day (can’t reset my password to get it to work on my phone lol), the daily stuff (30-100 pts), then I switch over to swagbucks searching. Not bad for $150 a year!

  3. look at you with all the science-y talk of joules and square meters! when mrs. smidlap was still full-time she went down to a 4 day week for a few months one year and it was great. it’s even better now with part-time work.

    you think the short days are the reason i’ve been so dead tired after work every day this week? i think it is.

    1. The short days absolutely do that to me. Getting outside while it’s still daylight definitely helps though.

  4. I’d bet getting out of dodge during the winter to somewhere with sun is a must in the PacNW. The short days can be nice but can also wear on you after a while. I think it’s annoying in New Orleans with sunrises around 7:30 and sunset by 5:00pm, but I’m sure it’s at least 3 hours less per day up there.

    Hawaii will be a much needed reprieve for you all.

    1. Not QUITE that bad – sunrise at 8 and sunset just after 4. But it’s dark almost instantly after sunset, with no fading away to darkness. Granted, in the summer we get a glimmer of light until 10pm, so at least there’s that.

  5. My maternal grandmother had seasonal affective disorder (guess where I got it from) so she and my grandfather would go on a weeklong trip every February. Because winter in Ohio, gross! and this is why you’re taking me to Hawaii for my birthday. Thanks, friend! 😘

    1. Except you know there is no way you can swing the vacation time with all the other plans you have in the works 😉 Perhaps next time??? Seriously.

  6. Hey that’s my pig! Glad everyone liked it and to see it already getting some use. Did you ever get any feedback on the deal with them telling me that priority shipping was the same as media mail? And, again, haaappppy biiiirthdaaay!

    1. No, I didn’t look into it! But I think to get the book rate shipping what you’re sending has to be 100% books.

  7. I used to do those Bing searches when they had a different point system to reach for those Amazon $5 gift cards. I stopped when they changed it up but my wife started to get back into doing Bing searches and has a couple of $5 gift cards. With her doing it and you bringing it up I may have to get having Bing as my main search engine again. Thanks for the reminder!
    I just downloaded a workout app so I can workout at home with my 5 mile runs every Sunday now I may have gotten a weekly workout routine now. I really liked that you try to get a workout in with whatever free time you have.
    Happy Birthday Angela! Hope you enjoy your birthday weekend! Cheers!!!

    1. I honestly don’t care much which search engine I use, so it works for me! And thank you! I had a great birthday weekend.

  8. Happy Birthday…..Preach it, the short dark days of winter are a real buzz kill….I am still trying to keep up my running routine but there is not enough daylight on work days….As a nurse, I work 68 hours in 2 weeks but in the future I would love to work even less. Maybe once we pay off our mortgage…. I admire your 3 posts a week schedule, Being a busy working mom and putting up 3 posts is a near super human feat.

    1. To be fair to the three posts a week thing, only Mondays are “full” posts. Wednesdays and Fridays are (usually) pretty quick to write, and it keeps the momentum.

  9. Last year was the first time I went to a sunny destination late winter. Makes such a difference, especially for colder winters.

    That’s a great piggy bank! Mason jars would never have occurred to me.

    1. Yes!! Last year was the first time we did it since I was still in high school and I’m totally hooked.

  10. Happy Birthday 🙂
    I hear ya on the dark short days, it has been crushing my runs lately as well. (the outdoor ones anyhow) The outdoor runs have been shorter and then replaced the rest with treadmill during my gym workouts. I want to get back into the mountains.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of inside workouts as well, but they simply aren’t as fun.

  11. I am also solar powered,and am really feeling the short days in the U.K. at the moment.
    A wise colleague went to the Canary Islands for a week earlier this month…. mmmm.

    I love your description of your dog! 🙂 she sounds adorable and it’s good to hear she is doing well.

    1. Soooo looking forward to the sun in Hawaii later this winter! And she is an adorable pup and I am so thankful she’s doing so well 🙂

    1. You just have to sign in / create a Microsoft account and then just do your normal searches through the Bing search engine. Once you hit a certain number you can redeem for things like $5 Amazon gift cards. Not a ton, but it feels like a little for nothing 🙂

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