This week closes out what appears to be the end of the extra busy schedule that has consumed my last few weeks since we returned from Hawaii and the snow melted. Some of this extra intense schedule was due to the evening meetings that got moved due to the snow, but in general the second half of February and first part of March have been significantly busier work wise (and I decided to squeeze in a dentist appointment for myself and the kiddo at the same time).

Even so, I haven’t been working much more than maybe forty hours a week at the peak (plus a few volunteer hours), and I’m reminded yet again how much of the “balance” I’m able to achieve in my life is due to a reduced schedule. I’ve managed to keep on my blog schedule – and to some degree to my workouts – but there hasn’t been much time for anything else outside of the must dos type of chores during the week lately.

If this was our new normal, something would have to give long term. Thankfully, it’s not, and it appears that things should be settling back down now. If nothing else, these weeks have given me a renewed perspective about how reasonable our schedules are these days, even though they usually don’t have a lot of down time. But that is by design, and that makes all the difference. And I’m reminded of the true cost of saying yes to things, even when they’re good things.

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. After badgering my roommate for much, much too long, he opened a high interest savings account with Ally. He does have a small emergency fund in a more accessible every day bank account (again, thanks to living with me for years…), but it’s an account he feels comfortable dipping into whenever some big expense comes up.

Some of these expenses could definitely be considered what you would use an emergency fund for (job loss in the past), but others less so (a new gaming machine or vacation). Not to say he shouldn’t save up for those sorts of things, but more that the backup savings should be left alone.

This new account, on the other hand, is meant for expenses way in the future – like eventual retirement – and not to be touched at all in the interim. He’s set up a small recurring transfer to this account, but over time I hope this number will grow as well as the overall number in the account. I’d told him this is what I wanted for my birthday, so he’s just a couple months late. Thanks for the present, roomie, it’s seriously the best.

2. I filled up the gas tank in my car on Monday (March 4th) for the first time since January 27th. While this is certainly not a regular occurrence, I would like to see how far I can stretch things between fill ups because it means I’m using that much less petroleum as well as saving money. That money savings comes not just from spending less on gas but also from lower depreciation and maintenance costs on my car.

I drive a 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and it currently has 95,000 miles on it, so it should last me a good long time yet. It is my second car ever and I’ve never had an auto loan, and I would like to keep it that way. And hopefully, by the time I AM ready for my next car, I will be able to buy an all electric vehicle, or better yet, be able to downsize to a one car family.

Back to this latest fill up, which means I spent $0 on gas for my car in the month February. A number of things worked in my favor to make this happen. For starters, we were in Hawaii from January 30th to the morning of February 6th, and then my car sat for another four days thanks to snowpocolypse. Beyond that, I carpooled, walked, or bused at least one round trip each week, further reducing my auto miles.

I also simply live close to work, so even when I do drive there (and for childcare drop offs), I don’t put on that many miles at one time. Typically, I have to fill my gas tank about twice a month, but I could do better. Perhaps by recording these fill ups I can make just a few more right decisions and find ways to leave my car at home.

3. I had another friend over for dinner and we were talking about her housing options and while she is making it work with how expensive things are in this area, we got talking about affordable housing and I was able to point her to lists for low and middle income housing that’s available (though a long wait list), including for ownership options.

While this may or may not help her and her family in the long run, I was able to get her started on the list to give her options in the future. I may work on this sort of thing on a much broader scale at work, but it was one more conversation that reminds me about why I do what I do.

4. I feel like I’ve gotten back into the swing of things when it comes to bringing leftovers to work again, which is interesting considering life has been extra busy lately, so in theory I should have even less bandwidth to deal with food.

My parents ended up with a partial package of hamburger buns this week that they weren’t going to eat, so we ended up using them to make hamburgers when my friend was over for dinner. We will occasionally pass things back and forth both with our families and our neighbors when we end up with more than we will likely use, which cuts down on both the cost and the food waste for all of us.

5. Budget Epicurean sent me a package with a variety of seeds she’d saved from her garden, including butterkin squash seeds. Once they were in the mail, she sent me a sad text that her dog HAD EATEN HER SEEDS, so if I could please send her back some at the end of this year if they do well.

(I probably shouldn’t that her that I caught my son and neighbor friend in the act of opening up one of the envelopes of seeds – yes THOSE seeds – but was able to grab them and put them on the top shelf before all was lost).

It snowed again on Thursday though, so the garden will have to wait a little while yet (reading where it was at last March is just depressing). I do love seed sharing though, and you had better believe that I will do my darndest to mail her back a package of butterkin seeds this fall.

Exercise Update

Friday and Thursday were both ten minutes on the elliptical because even that much time was a stretch but I didn’t want to skip doing some exercise if I could help it (event Friday and then dentist appointment Thursday). Sunday, on the other hand, was lovely and we went for a hike through the woods with Felicity, and I easily made my step goal for the day. Plus, time in nature is always a good choice.

Tuesday was another twenty minutes on the elliptical, and while it is definitely not the most exciting exercise out there, I was able to finish up my Wednesday round up post while I was on the machine. Wednesday was an hour long walk in place of sitting down for a meeting, and then I finished the day with a run on the treadmill before heading back out for another work event (thankful for access to a shower at work). Like I said, the last few weeks have been busy, and I am very much looking forward to a bit more normal of a schedule moving forward.

What do you do about exercise when work gets extra busy? Any tips?

20 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2019 – Week 9)

  1. i make my gym time at work a priority even when it’s busy. i treat it like personal finance and pay myself first which is almost always possible. i’m lucky that i can go any time of day just in case i have the rare function or meeting where i would rather be hit in the head with a hammer. this makes me realize i have a pretty desirable job that allows this.

    i had to look up butterkin. living close to work is da’ bomb. your roommate will thank you in a few years for the good advice. if you tend to spend it that extra layer of transfer inconvenience is sometimes enough.

    1. It’s a bit more difficult when I have childcare deadlines to worry within, but I ALWAYS feel better after a good workout, even if it has to be a short one.

  2. I don’t get extra busy, so I can’t help you much on the exercise front. But I think what you’re doing — fitting in at least *some* exercise whenever possible — is really the key. It keeps you in the swing of things for when life settles down. You won’t be crashing back into a workout routine.

    I’m finally more or less back into working out regularly which is a relief because I need to keep my cholesterol down (and I want to lose some weight of course).

    I just checked, and it’s been just over 2 weeks since I did my last fill-up and I’ve still got more than half a tank. I’ve been driving less than usual lately and I don’t have a commute, so it’s cheating a little. But still if I could fill up once ever 4 weeks that’d be amazing. Previously I think I’ve been averaging 2.5 to 3 weeks, but it’s always good to have a goal to stretch, right?

    1. I do love working out, so for me it’s pretty easy to convince myself to go, as long as I have the time. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally gotten it in my head that a short workout is lightyears ahead of no workout.

    1. The amount of snow we still have… let’s just say I’ve never experienced this here.

  3. I schedule meetings at opposite ends of the building or on different floors if that’s an option. Sometimes a walk in nature is worth double the indoor exercise.

    You’re fitting some in, which is better than nothing!

    1. My company is way too small for that, but I love that hack! And yes, there’s no replacing a walk in the woods.

  4. If you regularly go that long with gas in your tank, then please consider adding Fuel Stabilizer. It’s not expensive to treat the gas in your tank, and it will make a difference in the long run. this is one of the downsides to ethanol in our fuel. check https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/buying-maintenance/how-to/a24409/winter-storage-tips-stabil-and-other-fuel-stabilizer-additives/ for details. In short, water can get into the gas, and mixing that with the ethanol can cause all sorts of issues for your car. It’s one of many reasons that I hate ethanol in our gasoline. I won’t go off on a rant there, but sufficed to say I’d rather see the money from that invested in battery research.

  5. The description of your life at the beginning of this post sounds a lot like mine at this moment in time. My husband and I have great schedules and great daycare. It makes it hard to imagine how other people do it. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the work hours I have, I say yes only to things that make me happy, but I still feel incredibly busy and have little time for activities outside the realm of obligation. I’m hoping to have a girl’s night out tonight for the first time in MONTHS, but an ice storm is getting in the way. Boooo!!!

    Anyhow, I like your frugal ideas around transportation. I like the goal of keeping track of the last time I got gas and trying to stretch those tank fill-ups as far as I can. Considering we got a lot of gas gift cards and work within a mile of home, I’m now on a mission to see if we can make it until mid summer without paying for gas.

    Since this is my first year following your blog, I’m excited for the gardening posts! I know you mentioned you are a gardener in your What’s Up Next interview, so those posts will be a true sign of spring for me:)

    1. I know that this is just a season with littles, and we have such a good setup, but it is still just freaking hard some days 🙂

      And as there is still snow in our yard, my garden posts will definitely be coming out later this year… won’t be planting potatoes next weekend as is typical, that’s for sure!

    1. Yeah, I definitely had the years of hours you’re experiencing now, but that was pre-kid, and now that I know the alternative, I have no plans to ever go back. Fingers crossed things chill out for you soon.

  6. I think it’s great that you’ve got a good work/life balance going! I think that’s what most of us are trying to achieve with our frugal lives anyway, so kudos that you’ve found a way to get that already!

    1. It’s definitely a constant process, but writing it out here helps me make sure to stay in that balance as much as possible (though I generally do fill up my days to the brim).

  7. Love this update! I especially relate to the gas fill up on #2. Every time I fill my tank I think to myself, “Let’s see how long I can make it until I come back to a gas station”. Then proceed to stretch it out by any means necessary.

    Cannot say I could make it as long as you, but maybe someday!

    1. I fully expect it to last that long and I will be extremely disappointed if it doesn’t make it 🙂

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