So, one of our very favorite neighbor couples is moving out of state come next month. They are having their first child and are moving to be closer to family, so I completely understand why they are making that choice, but we are seriously going to miss them around here. Remember when I wrote about going to Port Angeles in January for a neighbor’s birthday? Yeah, that neighbor.
Since they’re moving – and soon – we’re making sure to squeeze in as much fun stuff as we can before they go. And since they love camping and are moving somewhere with fewer and more crowded options, that fun stuff includes as much tent time as possible. I had a vet appointment for our dog at noon on Saturday so we couldn’t leave Friday night, but after I got back home from that we headed across the water to Hood Canal for one night of camping.
The campground we chose is just a twenty minute drive from the Kingston Ferry Terminal, so it is an easy spot for a one night trip. The weather was absolutely gorgeous as well, and camping in sixty five and sunny at the end of March felt nothing short of miraculous. We’re back to rain and colder for the foreseeable future though now, which is more typical for this time of year.
PS – I was interviewed by ChooseFI and the episode aired on Monday. If you haven’t listened yet, download it here. I’m particularly proud of this podcast episode and am honored to have been a guest on such a big podcast in this financial independence space.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. We tend to stop at local grocery stores along the way to campgrounds and oftentimes grab at least one meal at a restaurant on the way there or home, as well as sometimes visiting a brewery to fill a growler or two. And as I mentioned in my March update, our food spending was even higher last month than it has been lately due to a number of reasons.
This latest camping trip though we brought food for all our meals and basically just hung out at the campground until we headed back to the ferry (other than our traditional popcorn snack on the ferry itself). It was a really nice relaxed night and it made for an extremely cheap camping trip. We basically spent $28 on the campsite and another $32 on the ferry trips and then a few dollars on snacks and that was it.
2. Since we’re now into the month of April, I’ve ticked off another month without buying clothes, bringing that total up to twenty five months and counting. I’m still not sure when I will actually break that ban, and I’m just taking it one month at a time at this point. For now, I still don’t feel like there’s anything I particularly need to replace, especially thanks to the hand me down shoes I got last month.
I also put out an ask on the Facebook page of a mom’s group I’m loosely associated with as a first attempt to set up a clothing swap, both for the kiddos but also for us. If I’m not successful there, I think I’ll reach out and see if I can collect anyone else up to do an exchange with.
I have a few things I’m ready to part with from my slowly shrinking closet as well as some hand me downs from others I keep meaning to drop off at the thrift store, so I’m thinking it might work even better if I can get a clothing swap to happen. The clothes will be more likely to be worn than possibly end up in a landfill, and I could maybe end up with a few new things that could help extend this ban yet again. If any of you have organized a swap before, I’d love any tips on how to set one up to be successful.
3. We washed the dogs this past weekend after getting back from camping. They were already overdue for baths, but after playing in the dirt and the salt we’re we absolutely couldn’t put it off any longer. My husband had meant to do it a couple of weekends before while the kiddo and I were off doing something but found out too late that we were out of dog shampoo, so it got put off again. Which then worked out for the best since we would have had to wash them again after camping anyway.
I didn’t initially consider this a “frugal win” worthy of mentioning as part of the Five this week since we have always bathed the dogs ourselves. But then I remembered that I worked at PetSmart way back in the day and that plenty of people take their dogs in to be groomed regularly. To be honest though, it’s a bit easier to just do it ourselves rather than make an appointment and then drive them to the groomer and back. And of course, it is a heck of a lot cheaper.
4. Monday afternoon I decided to leave my car at work and run to pick up the kiddo from preschool and then take the bus home. The bus was extremely late though, and by the time we got on it we had missed the transfer home. My husband was off work by that time though, so he met us at the park near the transfer spot and we got a ride home with him the rest of the way.
Of course, once we had stopped there and walked again by a new restaurant we had been wanting to try, we stopped for an early happy hour dinner. Whoops. And there goes a little more of our food budget again (though at least it was reasonably inexpensive thanks to happy hour meals and no drinks).
We got dropped off in the morning and then after the kiddo and I had our once or twice a month routine of coffee/hot chocolate and doughnuts, I walked the three miles from preschool to work. Between the happy hour dinner and then the breakfast the next morning, leaving my car at work didn’t save so much money over driving, but it did save natural resources. And we would have done the breakfast anyway even if I had driven (though perhaps not the dinner, but maybe even that).
I do miss the days when our schedules worked that I could run the six miles to work once a week, but figuring out how to commute without my car even once a week now makes me pretty happy. Eventually I’ll get myself a bike again and maybe make it two days a week.
5. I finally got our taxes done this week. We do have somewhat complicated taxes due to the varied nature of our investments, and I have a CPA file for us. Perhaps I could do them myself now (and I did when we were first married and just had a couple of W-2s to deal with), but I appreciate the peace of mind of having someone go through it for us.
The first year I used her, she found ways to get us a larger refund that outweighed her fee, and that made it absolutely worth the cost. While perhaps that isn’t true every year, it’s something that seems well worth it to me. I’m unconvinced that we have to optimize and DIY every last thing ourselves, and the home repairs and maintenance that we do save well more than filing our own taxes.
We also got a $1,000 refund this year thanks to upping our retirement contributions, and while it may not be as “optimal” as closer to zero, I have to say that I much prefer to get a little bit back than having to pay a little bit at tax time. Either way, I’m glad that it has never ended up wildly in either direction, because I wouldn’t want a five or ten thousand dollar refund instead of seeing that money in our paychecks every month.
I was feeling particularly anxious on Friday night, so my husband convinced me to go out for a run after the kiddo went to bed. He’s been napping less frequently these days, which means he goes to bed earlier and there was a little bit of daylight left after he fell asleep. I ended up running a 5k distance for the first time in a while, and I felt especially better for it. Going for a run doesn’t always make the anxiety go away, but it always helps.
Saturday I headed downtown with my dog before her vet appointment to send off a friend’s old dog and we walked from their apartment down to Seattle Center and back. After the appointment, we left to go camping and did some more walking around the rest of the day. Sunday was more wandering around the campground and then walking the dogs after their baths.
Monday was another twenty minute run and then Thursday was the walk to work and a short bit on the elliptical in the afternoon before preschool pick up. Thanks to all the walking and running, Friday through Tuesday were all 16,000 – 18,000 step days. Wednesday was a short run, but I just squeaked in at my 12,000 step goal that day and Thursday was another short workout on the elliptical.
How was your week? Do you have any frugal wins to share? I love to hear about them! After all, it’s the little things that add up to the big ones.