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.
* I put in a new garden bed lasagna style so it will be ready for spring. Trucker got me a new-to-us fire pit (online yard sale, $20), so I was able to break down the horrible fire pit made from broken cinder blocks that was there when we moved in. That area is on the north side of our garden and gets the best sunlight, so I'm thrilled. I laid down cardboard boxes from my job, then put kitchen scraps on top of that, coffee grounds both from home use and Trucker's job (His boss and coworkers are awesome to save them for me), and finally shredded newspaper and leaves. It'll all break down fairly well by spring and I get 25% more growing space!
* I used one of my gift cards for the grocery store where I work. For the $7 card (plus $1.90, and this is factoring in my discount), I got: a container of sour cream ($1), 4-pack toilet paper ($.90), 1 lb clearance steak ($3.40), loaf of roasted garlic bread ($3.60, while this was a bit of a splurge, it's a huge loaf of bread and one that I've been wanting to try. This will see us through many meals).
* After-holiday clearance shopping: butter $2.50/lb (4; this is a great price for here, sale price is usually $3, and regular price is over $5/lb), cranberries for $.50/lb (8 pounds, to dehydrate to use in baking and water kefir flavoring), canned biscuits for $.25/can (6; this is cheap enough to justify having just for a quick meal of sausage and biscuits when I'm short on time), microwaved mashed potatoes for $.29/1.5 lb package (this is $.20/lb and cheaper than I ever find potatoes, cream or chives. This is not a regular item for us, but for this price I bought some), loads of chocolates at half price. We'll use this for snacking for months, as gifts and in baking.
* I made baklava to use up some phyllo pastry someone had given me. It was a little less sweet than I'm used to...which means it was perfect!
* I tried my hand at making homemade pocky sticks. They tasted perfect. They are the ugliest things I've ever seen (I didn't have the right sized piping tip, so I used one that was too big. This was a mistake). So while you don't get to see pictures, Trucker did get a nice snack.
* It was nice one day, so I grilled out pizzas. So good
* On Thursday we did our annual Chinese-buffet-and-a-movie date. It was perfect, as it always is.
* We went out with friends one evening. I hesitate to mention it because I messed up. I spent way too much money that night. Granted, what I consider spending "way too much" is probably a lot lower than what many people do, but I still regret it. I had a fun time with everyone, but could have been more frugal and enjoyed it just as much. The next day I was (over)thinking about it, and realized that I had allowed my focus to drift from our goals to a temporary fix for a crummy day at work. It gave me a much needed kick in the pants to work harder towards our goals and I didn't spend any money the rest of the week. In fact, on my next day off, I stayed at home and did frugal tasks the whole day.
* Went for a 3 mile walk in a local park. It was in the upper 50s, so we wanted to get out and enjoy it. There was a surprising amount of life and color for this time of year. Our general rule is to get outside any day that it is relatively dry and unseasonably warm (so for this time of year, if it's above 40 and not raining, we're at least walking around the neighborhood)
* One day was ridiculously warm (upper 60s!), so we turned off the furnace and opened some windows for fresh air. We were able to turn off the furnace two other days when it was in the upper 50s.
* On one of my days off I didn't leave the house so I wouldn't be tempted to spend any money. I also used that time to do frugal tasks like baking from scratch (freezing some for later), cooking meals for the week to avoid take out, cleaning, preparing a garden bed, etc.
* Put away more of Trucker's tip money. Really encouraging how fast that adds up.
* It's a silly little daily thing, but I thought I'd mention it. I use swagbucks to do all of my searches. When I'm researching an article or looking up recipes, I'll often win swagbucks. I save up until I have enough for a $5 Amazon card (450 points). I get a card about every other month, so it really is a small thing. However, I feel that since I'd be doing searches anyway, it only makes sense to get a little something back from it. I am currently saving the cards until later this winter when we start to buy beekeeping items. I'm hoping to have $50 by then to put towards smoker, veil, etc. Even small things are worthwhile if they don't take too much time or effort away from more important things.
* I used the last little bit of a bottle of hand soap as bubble bath.
* I got a $5 gift card as a "customer service" reward for helping us have a good holiday season. This brings my total up to $42 worth of gift cards this month. This job perk is absolutely wonderful!
* Leading up to the holidays, the break room was filled with free samples of everything from (alcohol-free; don't think I was getting toasty at work) ginger beer to chili to candy. Most days I nibbled on a little something that was sampled and brought my lunch home to use another day or send with Trucker.
* I bought new work pants at a thrift store. Two pairs got holes, and only one is repairable (when I get around to it), so I needed something new. I found two pairs for $3.49 each that fit well, are within the uniform requirements, and have good pockets.
* I worked overtime one day leading up to the holiday. I also now qualify for holiday pay, so I'll have an extra day's wage on the next paycheck. We'll put the extra money into savings for our furnace replacement.
* I helped Trucker with his new book by reading and editing it.
* Two coffee dates for writing.
* We're focusing more on staying hydrated. We have a few health issues that are exacerbated by dehydration, so we're trying to get in the habit of sipping water regularly throughout the day.
* Went running a couple of days.
* Trucker bought me a good jump rope because I said I was thinking of getting one for exercise on days it's too cold and gross to go outside.
What did you do this week?