Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This Week...Beyond Money 12/1 - 12/7

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* Loads of microgreens growing in all the windows. I got my first harvest. I thinned out the containers on the front window and got about 1/4 cup of arugula, cress and mustard. I used them on our sandwiches for dinner one night.
* Green onions grown from trash are growing well. I'll be harvesting soon.
* I have some milkweed seed harvested from the front garden and I've been randomly planting it around different parts of the property. I saw my first Monarch this past year and I'm really excited to see more.

* Ate leftovers a lot.
* I boiled some chicken that I bought on clearance ($.89/lb for leg quarters) since I didn't have time to do anything with it, but it needed to be used up. The next day we pulled meat off the bones to use in a stir fry (using leftover rice from another meal), another time put it on salads and the day after that I pulled the rest of the meat off to make BBQ sandwiches. I saved the cooking water to use in cooking and saved the bones for a batch of stock when I gather up more scraps.

Food Preservation:
* Put up two dehydrators worth of apples.

This dress only cost $3! I can't wait til it's
warm enough to wear it!
* We had a fancy date. We used the gift certificate that we won at the benefit dinner/auction for $15. It was a much nicer restaurant than we'd usually go to, but was affordable since we'd gotten the gift card so cheap. I signed up for the email list beforehand, so I got a coupon for a free appetizer (We never order appetizers, so it was a nice treat)
* We took a two-day trip to visit family out of state. We planned ahead and saved money for the trip over the month beforehand so we didn't have to put it on credit. I made the hotel reservation at a mid-range hotel just outside the major city we were visiting. This lowered the cost for the hotel significantly over a similar quality in the city. Also, Hotel.com gives a free night's stay after 10 nights. I'm only two nights in, but is still worthwhile. We packed food from home for snacking and brought a thermos of coffee and didn't have to buy coffee at all the first day. We visited family the first day and had dinner with them instead of going out. That night we took a swim at the hotel and worked out in the gym for our entertainment. The next day we explored the city and visited thrift stores. We like to thrift and this city's thrift stores have a different selection than the ones near us. I get most of my clothes when we visit family. I get nice clothes and by selecting items that are half-off tags, I save a bundle. I got a beautiful dress for $3 and a few shirts for less than $1 each. Trucker desperately needed new jeans, but we never find his size at thrift stores here. We ended up buying 5 pairs for $4-5 each, so got $5 pairs for much less than the cost of one new pair. At the end of the trip, we still had $150 leftover from the cash we'd saved for the trip. This money went into a savings account for a home repair.
This fun shirt was $.75.
* Since we've both been working more, Ray cat is super lonely when we get home. So we've been trying to make more of an effort to play with her when we get home. She's loving it. She loves free toys much more than store-bought ones. Her long-time favorite is little balls of paper that we play fetch with. Today we discovered the joy of flipping a rubber band that she chases (don't worry, we don't leave it on the floor and we watch to make sure she doesn't swallow it).
This photo is from earlier in the season, but
isn't she pretty!

* I've enjoyed watching the birds in the back garden (When Trucker rearranged the living room last year, he made sure to put my desk facing out the back window so I could look out into the garden regularly). There's only one Cardinal couple this year so far, but they are beautiful. Ray cat likes watching them too, but I suspect her intentions are less admirable.

* We are still squirrelling away some of Trucker's tip money and depositing it into savings. It's really easy for us to mindlessly spend if we have it. By putting some of it aside the day he earns it, we learn to live on whatever cash we have (Our budget has our bills, gasoline and groceries coming out of our paychecks and our generally living comes from tip money), and it is amazing how quickly it builds up.
* Filled up the tank using fuel perks from the grocery store. Saved $.20/gallon, or ~$2.50.

Waste Reduction:
* Unfortunately, the latest batch of vinegar got moldy and gross. I'm disappointed, but it didn't cost me anything. I'll pour it into the compost or something.
* Saved chicken bones to use in stock-making.

* packed lunches every day. One day I got a free sample of house-made chili from the break room, so I didn't eat most of the lunch from home and used it the next day.
* We both get free coffee from work.
* Trucker brought home a big bag of free treat from his job.

* Wrote on a few of my lunch breaks at work.

* Worked out at the gym while at the hotel, and went walking a few times throughout the week. Also swam laps in the pool.
* We have been trying to help remind each other to take our multivitamin and vitamin D supplement. We try to eat a varied, healthy diet, but in winter it's harder to get enough fresh produce, so the multivitamin helps fill in the gaps. We both struggle with seasonal depression, but have an easier time of it when we supplement vitamin D. We also tried to get out and walk whenever it was nice enough to get some natural vitamin D and fresh air.

* While I was looking for jeans for Trucker, I found jeans in my dad's size. He is a 29x29, so it's next to impossible for Mum to find his jeans, even new. She often has to have them special ordered and pays $40+ for a pair. Since they cost so much, he refuses to get rid of them until they are ragged. Some were definitely not his style, but I ended up buying 6 pairs for $4-5 apiece. This saves them a ton of money. I'll continue to look for pants in his size when we go to the city so they don't have to resort to ordering new pants.
* Steve bought a book for $1 for my family on inventive ways to save money on weddings. Two of my sisters are engaged and my parents are paying for both. Hopefully they'll get some decent tips that can save them money.
* One of my favorite ways to help people I care about, especially if I don't have much extra money, is to keep an eye out for bargains that family and friends can use. I buy the item for 75% less than the price they usually pay, they pay me back the purchase price and save the rest. It costs me nothing but effort but provides a big savings for them.

What did you do this week?

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