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.
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?