I’ve been an astronomy junkie off and on ever since I was a little girl and my dad and I would sit out on the deck of my parents’ cabin in the mountains and pour over books to point out the constellations in the night sky. I remember knowing dozens of their names when I was young, but now I don’t know that I could name more than ten. And unfortunately, since I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest most of my life, most nighttime spectaculars occur above a cover of clouds.

Sunday night though, the sky cleared after sunset just in time for the Super Blood Wolf Moon Lunar Eclipse to show its face completely unobscured by clouds, which felt like a small miracle in and of itself in Washington State in mid January. The full eclipse didn’t occur until a bit after 9PM and past the kiddo’s bedtime, but there was no question that we would let him stay up to experience it.

So starting a little after 8PM, we all piled out of our neighbor’s house after a dinner with them and looked up at the sky. My husband grabbed a high powered scope and another neighbor had his surveying equipment set up and we all took turns peering up at the changing moon while the younger kids took advantage and ran around the cul de sac in the dark. The moon slowly eclipsed and it was shocking how red it actually turned, and it was totally worth the extra late night to start off a work week. Now if only there was a way to clear the clouds any time something of importance was going on in the heavens.

Way cooler than any phone camera can capture

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. Friday evening one of our neighbors was having a rough evening so I texted her and asked if she’d like me to bring her down a glass of champagne. She accepted, and I walked down the street, two glasses in hand. We’d already had dinner, so a bit later on my husband and kiddo joined me since he’d been asking to play with his friends all week and hadn’t been able to because he was home with a cold.

Totally impromptu, but we ended up hanging out down there until well past normal bedtime, and then we we ended up there for dinner the following night and another neighbor joined us later on. Perhaps more days in a row than we normally spend with neighbors, but not entirely unexpected with the neighborhood we live in.

We also had plans to go to a different neighbor’s house for dinner Sunday night for homemade Italian pizza, so our weekend ended up full of neighbors. In a way, it felt much like my on campus college experience except with families and our own homes. And of course, any time we don’t have to drive anywhere and share homemade meals together, we’re saving money and we’re saving resources, both in the trash reduced and the gas saved.

Italians take their pizza dough making seriously. Like, start the night before seriously.

2. We seem to have finally gotten in the swing of things and do more or less all of our grocery shopping for the week over the weekend. I would describe what we do more now as “meal prep lite” because we rarely do any of the dinner preparation ahead of time in terms of chopping vegetables or browning meats, but we shop with particular meals (and the state of our pantry) in mind.

Since our grocery budget most often gets out of control by the unplanned purchases that end up in our carts when we head to the store on a whim mid week or when we order take out because a day caught up with us, having a semi set plan for the day really helps to rein in those costs. We also don’t set meals to a specific day, which gives us more flexibility on what we want to eat that evening even to the point of swapping side dishes depending on our mood.

3. Our son was invited to a birthday party over the weekend by one of his preschool friend’s, and since we didn’t know her or her family at all, I was less comfortable giving a more “alternative” gift than is typical for us (ie used clothes and toys or more experiential gifts like tickets to the zoo – or college fund money).

We did receive some grocery store gift cards for Christmas and our birthdays though, and we were able to use them at Fred Meyer instead, which is a more extensive store than just groceries, so we were able to pick up a birthday present from there plus a few home maintenance things for us, and the total bill we paid of out pocket ended up being just eight dollars.

He was so excited for the party

4. Ally bank just announced that their interest rates went up again and they are now at 2.2%, up from 2% and then 1.9% when I originally opened bank accounts with them. I took way too long to finally switch to a high interest savings account, but I’m already realizing the money I’ve left on the table by sticking with the pitiful interest our regular bank gives us.

I haven’t actually transferred any money though and have just been adding new cash, but now I’m thinking about transferring all of our slush/emergency fund money over there except for a small buffer so that we can be earning that rate on all of it. The only downside is that it takes a couple days to transfer the money back, so I haven’t decided how much to leave in the more traditional bank account.

5. I boxed up a bunch of cloth diapers and sent them along to Wise Mind Money, who is expecting her first baby this summer. I way overdid it when it came to buying and accepting cloth diapers when my kiddo was a baby, and while we did get a lot of use out of them over the three years and change that he was in diapers, they are still in really good shape and have just been sitting in his room unused. I still have a ton left though, and am slowly passing them along. I realize that I could make some good money back on them, but like Penny says, earning money from decluttering really slows down the process, and I don’t need any more barriers in place while working on clearing out our home. Plus, I would rather just pass along the love to a friend whenever possible.

I also boxed up a few things to send to That Frugal Pharmacist‘s son, who is a year younger than mine, and I had my kiddo help fill the box, which is always an interesting experience. It’s definitely harder to have him involved in letting go of too-small clothes and shoes (and even harder when talking about toys and books), but I believe it’s really important to have him learn from a young age that we share and pass things along to others who will love them as much as we did – and just like how much he loves his new rain boots that were passed down to him from another friend.

Exercise Update

Friday I didn’t get a chance to get on the work elliptical, but I did end up getting a 45 minute walk on the treadmill and then some stretching at my parents’ house when I arrived during the kiddo’s nap time. I hadn’t planned on a workout and didn’t have a change of clothes, so I walked on the treadmill instead of running, but I figure it was still a lot better than nothing. Sunday I went for a run and then did some lifting at the gym, again during nap time. Monday and Tuesday were twenty minute elliptical days at the work gym, and then I got out for a short run on Wednesday since we somehow again ended up with a clear, somewhat sunny afternoon.

PS – I was on a podcast episode of What’s Up Next? on Monday talking all about blog monetization. It’s a roundtable format with a few other bloggers and it was such much fun. Check it out here

30 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2019 – Week 4)

  1. i’ve been crushing the workouts, angela. out of 18 work days this year i’ve made it to the gym 16 times to run. i’ve been getting faster too and 3 miles under 21 minutes is just around the corner. we’re lucky to have access to work gyms, eh? even if it’s just a light “something better than nothing” workout.

    it’s great that you have neighbors you like well enough to socialize. i was afraid that was getting lost in today’s society. also, i just got my 1099-int from ally for the ’18. it was over 300 bucks! i keep a checking account there too and the transfers between those are immediate, by the way. even the replacement checks are free and they refund all ATM fees. they’re not paying me to say that. i’m just very happy with them and we all know how rare that is.

    1. I’m impressed by those gym numbers!! And we freaking adore our neighbors and even go on vacation with them as well 🙂

      That comment about ally checking makes me think maybe I SHOULD transfer it all over… hmm.

  2. Sounds like a fulfilling week, lived quite intentionally!

    I’m slightly jealous of your relationship with your neighbors. We live in a neighborhood filled with nice people, but most of them tend to be senior citizen types. And while we have good relationships with several neighbors on our street, the disparity in life situations makes camaraderie a little difficult — compounded by the fact that cell phones and email are like foreign languages to them.

    Mrs. FFP experimented awhile ago with grocery shopping monthly rather than weekly, and was a big fan. Recently she’s begun stocking the fridge every two weeks rather than monthly, which I’m told strikes a better balance on account of perishables. Takes some diligence on her part to meal plan that far out, but makes for fewer trips to the store with the littles — a benefit upon which a price cannot be placed!

    Love the reference to alternative gifts. We have been a little reticent to branch out into this outside of immediate family due to social norms, but have been making strides recently. We discussed setting up 529’s and gifting college fund money to some family members this year for Christmas, but were a little concerned with how they would be received by the parents of our young family members.

    Have you ever gifted college fund money, and if so, was it ever received frostily due to the parents either feeling guilty or assuming you believed they couldn’t adequately help with college costs themselves?

    Kudos for jumping aboard the Ally Bank bandwagon! We’ve kept our emergency fund and all of our dedicated sinking fund savings accounts with them since 2014, and continue to be impressed with their customer service, transparency, lack of fees, and willingness to pass on Federal interest rate hikes to their customers. I have nothing but good things to say about them. In my experience, recurring transfers to a different banking institution take three business days, but one-time transfers for linked accounts with a successful transfer history can take as little as one.

    It sounds like your son received a valuable life lesson on both sharing and re-gifting. From one parent to another, high-five!

    1. Yeah, we are very, very lucky to have the neighbors we have.

      As far as gifting college fund money, we HAVE done it successfully, but only with a select few families whose desires line up more similarly to ours, and above all they have a desire for less clutter, so it works out well 🙂

  3. Dang this is nice. I really need to get to know my neighbors more. Being military causes us to move so much and we really don’t get to from really close relationships. These are a lot of really good wins here. BTW that pizza looks amazing.

    It’s our goal to find community like this. After 24 years of moving it will be well appreciated. 🙂

    1. Some of those military relationships can be really awesome long term though – it means you have friends all over and (at least in our experience) they tend to be the ones to do more travel and visits in random places down the line.

  4. I don’t know how big your emergency fund is, but I would consider keeping 1-2 months at your normal bank (one month in checking, one month in savings) and then the rest at Ally. We use Alliant Credit Union for our daily banking and I love that their checking account earns 0.65% interest and their savings account rates are on par with Ally’s, though the only update them on the 1st of the month.

  5. The 5am wake ups this month caused me to miss the super blood moon (so late on the east coast!) which was a bummer, but glad you got to see it!

    I think you know my opinion on the Ally money transfer 😉 It’s whatever the amount that gives you the most peace of mind. For what it’s worth, I think people tend to overestimate how much money they need to be able to withdraw at a moments notice (seemingly the only reason to not move a vast majority of it over, right?) So many places take credit nowadays that a vast majority of purchases can either wait the 1-2 days for the money to transfer back over, or just be put on a card to pay off later. It’s totally up to you though!

    1. Yeah, I can’t think of many (any?) reasons we would need a large lump of cash that couldn’t wait a few days. And once again, living on the west coast proves superior 😉

  6. I’ve noticed interest rates for high-yield savings accounts are going up in many banks. I’ve seen some where a couple of banks are offering as high as 2.45%. Ally is one the highest right now so definitely a great place to store your emergency funds.
    What I do is keep an sufficient amount of funds in our checking account, enough to pay for bills and all that. And since we try to keep it under $10K in there, if we go over that amount I just transfer about $5K to our high-yield account so that emergency fund can keep building along with the interest on top.
    We still have our cloth diapers in case we have a second baby but when that time comes to when it’s not needed, I will do the same thing as you and give them away to someone who does…maybe to another blogger who needs it.

    1. I still have MORE cloth diapers than the ones I passed along to Emilie… I’ve been slowly sharing the love between a number of people. We are 99% one and done, and if that ever changed it’s not like there will never be another cloth diaper made.

  7. TGIF! Cool that you got to see the eclipse. We saw it as well and it was good timing that the kids received a telescope for Christmas. That was the splurge gift this year. We tested “alternative” gift giving (new for us) by doing sibling gifts from the thrift store. It turned out great!

    1. Oh, and I just discovered the What’s up next podcast. Haven’t gotten to your episode yet but look forward to listening!

  8. We had just settled down in front of the fireplace at our Airbnb in the Adirondacks after a hard day of ice climbing. It was -4 degrees outside. We were now warm and had beers and pizza. Then my buddy Adam gets a text and wanders off. Next thing ya know, I hear “dude, get out here, this is awesome!!” So we put our stuff back on and went out and saw the super blood wolf moon. It was amazing. I started howling ‘cuz that’s how I roll. Plus I was freezing my ass off and it made the pain feel better 🙂

    1. Yeah, it was maybe 45 degrees for us 😉 Now I get your freezing comment on Twitter haha.

  9. I heard your podcast episode and loved it! Um, I also love your alternative gift giving ideas. We need to take over the world with that. A friend took me out for dinner the other week for my birthday. She typically buys me gifts and I told her let’s make 2019 the year of no gifts. When we met, she thanked me for that. I think people want to relieved of the obligation..

    1. Yeah, gift giving is a strange one. Like 95% of both giving and receiving is just about the obligation.

  10. Late bedtimes where I got to play in the dark were THE BEST when I was a kid! I imagine much fun was had.

    There aren’t many gift exchanges for us. But I do want to find an alternative to disposable wrapping paper for when it does come up. Seems like such a waste….

  11. Sounds like a lot of fun with neighbors. Our neighborhood really isn’t friendly. I’ve been told my neighbors’ names once, so I don’t even remember them. We just nod and say hello when we see each other. So it’s pretty cool that you have the relationship with them that you do. And I love that you’re teaching your son to pass things along to other kids!

    1. Yeah I’m not entirely certain how we got so dang lucky with our neighborhood. There are certainly ways you can get to be more friendly with your neighbors, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll click with them regardless.

  12. Enjoyed listening to you on the What’s Up Next podcast this week. It was great how you put Paul on the spot with one of your questions!

    It was a mostly clear night by us when the eclipse happened, but a small cloud happened to appear during the peak of the eclipse. So it was a bit of a disappointment to me.

    Dragon Guy

    1. Glad you liked that question 😬

      What a bummer on the cloud cover – that’s what usually happens to us so it was extra exciting to actually get a clear view.

  13. I’ve been an Ally Bank customer for 10 years now (!!!) and in all that time, there’s only been one occasion in which I needed a large sum of money available with same day notice: when we bought our house, the closing attorney forgot that we’d asked for a few days notice to transfer funds / mail order a certified check. Even then, we were still able to complete the sale using a wire transfer (a $20 wire transfer fee). The amount I’ve earned in interest in that time was well worth the one occasion I got dinged with an extra fee.

    That said, maintain your relationship with your local bank too. When it comes to things like cash deposits or getting change (garage/tag sales, small side hustles paid in cash, etc), online banks just don’t cut it.

    Get your feet wet and see how it goes; I’m sure you’ll find a sensible balance that gives you and your family peace of mind.

    1. You are so far ahead switching ten years ago!! I don’t even want to think about the interest we’ve given up over the years before I started to make the switch.

  14. I was lucky. I am also a huge astronomy fan; my big telescope is 6′ tall with an aperture of 14″. I just got out of the hospital in time to see the blood moon that I had been talking about for a few weeks. Sadly, I had a severe asthma attack that landed me in the hospital for a day. But with the extreme cold here in NY, and my recovering lungs, I was lucky again in that the moon rose over the sky lights in my bedroom. I was able to see it all through there, while staying nice and warm. It will be a while before I will be running again; a month or so, but at least I am well enough to work.

    1. Okay now that is so cool. Sorry that the timing worked out so poorly this time! But yeah, at least you got to stay warm 🙂

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