It seems like almost daily now my husband is sending me articles about early season wildfires or poor air quality locally. Considering it is only now June, it feels like this shouldn’t be the case already. And really, this sort of thing didn’t impact us locally until the last five years or so – Pacific Northwest summers used to be the glorious culmination of a lot of preceding months of gray.
Summer also used to be the time where you never, ever planned trips out of the region, because you didn’t want to miss that perfect weather. Now, the temptation to plan a trip away during the worst of it is tempting – though last year I did look and even California or Montana or Canada or Alaska wasn’t far enough because the whole western half of the continent was on fire. (The irony of hopping on a plane to escape the smoke that is in part due to climate change and then contributing to said climate change by flying isn’t lost on me).
I also found out this past week that yet another friend is moving away from our area due to the sky-high cost of living, which was part of what sent our neighbors away as well. As much as I do love the Pacific Northwest and Washington in particular, there are definitely some downsides to living here.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Friday night we had another barbecue at our house. Although it wasn’t initially planned out the way, I saw it as a bit of an acknowledgement that we have been in our home eight years as of Saturday. It’s a bit mind boggling that we’ve been there that long already (the longest I’ve ever lived in one home was just shy of ten years), I feel so lucky to have been able to buy when we did because we are in a fabulous spot in a lovely little home.
I didn’t make any food plans when I started inviting people over, so after I got home from work that day I just decided to look at what we already had at home instead of going straight to the grocery store like I would have just a few years ago. I pulled out most of the rest of the pork that was in the freezer from when our neighbor had too much and then otherwise scrounged in the pantry and picked things out of the garden to feed everyone. The meal was simple but tasty, and we didn’t spend another dollar on it. Even better than the thirteen dollar party I threw a couple summers ago.
2. Michelle from Frugality and Freedom was in town for a short while so we assembled a few of us Seattle-based bloggers (A Purple Life, Felicity, and myself) to hang out while she was here. I debated whether to drive downtown since we met at the Olympic Sculpture Park but ultimately decided to bus in. I way prefer the bus to driving as well as paying for parking, but I knew the kiddo wouldn’t fall asleep on the way home that way. Thankfully, I drove down the hill to the main bus stop and he ended up falling asleep on the drive home, albeit much later than a normal nap time.
We kept the meet up cheap ish, though we did stop at a bakery thanks to the kiddo’s request for a peanut butter cookie and then some bubble tea before the bus ride home. There was also a free Orca whale event going on at the Sculpture Park so we hung around for a bit there, eating and drinking by donation and listening to some live music. All in all a very good day.
3. While the kiddo and I were down in Seattle having fun, my husband stayed at home and worked on replacing our back fence. While we love having county park trails behind us instead of a backyard neighbor, it means that the cost of the fence replacement is 100% on us.
However, since my husband already has the tools and the skills needed to build the new fence, we will be spending a fraction of the money on it than it would take to hire a contractor to do it. It’s still going to be a lot of money since we have a good sized yard, but I’m very happy not to be spending the thousands of dollars extra to have someone else do it.
4. Monday afternoon around 3:30PM I passed my neighbor on the street while she was rushing out, but we had time to shout at each other and make a plan to have dinner together at 6PM that night.
One of the best part about having good friends who live within easy walking distance is the ability to decide to have impromptu dinners together any night of the week. Instead of trying to plan one meal for all of us, we simply bring both meals to the same house and everyone just picks what they like and we all eat together. It’s so easy, and we see each other much more regularly than if we only had dinner when we planned out a meal in advance (though the meals in advance are nice as well because we can trade off the labor and cost of making the meal).
5. According to the app, I’ve now been using Personal Capital for one year. Before then, I honestly couldn’t have given you a real ballpark of our net worth without doing quite a bit of calculating beforehand. While Personal Capital isn’t perfect, it’s really nice to have everything at one place where I can look at all pieces of our financial picture whenever I want to.
Of course, said net worth has been bouncing all around these days thanks to both the stock market and our local real estate market, so I’d recommend not checking too frequently if a quick drop is going to impact your saving and investing decisions. Regardless, I find I do better knowing closely what’s going on with our overall picture, and I’m loving that I am starting to have long term data that I can pull up beyond my monthly finance updates here on the blog.
I don’t think just tracking net worth is great by itself because so much of that is outside of your personal control, but I’m finding that just tracking savings rate doesn’t do as much for me either because then I don’t see the long term trends and increases that tracking net worth can do. If you really want to take full control of your finances, I would highly recommend doing both.
If you haven’t set up a way to track your net worth yet, I’d recommend the aforementioned Personal Capital for that purpose, and if do decide to set up an account, I’d love it if you’d use my affiliate link here to sign up (you’ll also get $20 from them for signing up). One word of warning though, at the point your linked accounts cross the $100,000 mark, they will call you and try and convince you to let them manage your finances with one of their advisors. If you ignore the calls, though, they will eventually stop calling. I don’t have a use for their advisory services, but their interface to look at your full financial picture works well, and it’s worth doing.
Friday was another ten minute elliptical workout squeezed in at the end of my work day. Saturday we headed down to work because my husband had about an hour’s work of work to do, so the kiddo and I along with my husband’s godfather headed over to my office to hang out until he was done because we were all headed south together to visit some friends afterwards. The kiddo wanted to play in the work gym after he’d tired of shredding paperwork, so I got in a bonus ten minutes on the elliptical that day while he played.
Since we bused downtown and we wandered around during the hang out, I got in quite a few steps in on Sunday (with some of them being uphill with the kiddo piggyback) and ended the day at just over 18,000 steps. Tuesday I had planned to go for a run after picking up the kiddo from preschool but forgot to pack my running shoes and didn’t realize until I’d already left work, so I ended up going for a walk down the trail instead. Whoops.
Wednesday was an early morning run with a friend where we caught up on life, love, and finance. I’ve been jogging slow and by myself so much lately that talking and running caught me off guard and this was harder than expected, but so good to go with a good friend. I ended the day with two walks in the afternoon, so I ticked over 20,000 steps by the end of the night even with just over a half hour run to start the day. Thursday was an awkward ten minutes on the elliptical in a dress and heeled boots, but done.
Ps. I’m in The New York Times today.
How was your week? Any great frugal wins you’d like to share? I always love hearing about them!