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.
* It was an insanely busy week and we have both been feeling poorly, so we ate out a lot. I have to get back in the swing of prepping meals.
* I boiled a few grocery sacks full of beets and carrots.
* I stopped at Save-A-Lot, which I don't usually like, but it was on the way home. I found a couple decent sales: $.99/tortillas (bought 4), $.89 hamburger buns, and coffee ($5.99/35 oz decaf, $4.99/31 oz regular)
* I made a plum crisp, using some oatmeal/hot cereal packs that Trucker didn't like for breakfast as the crisp topping.
* We grilled out one afternoon. Trucker made his fantastic hamburgers (used 1/4 of a 5 lb chub I got for $6 at Aldi) and we also grilled corn on the cob ($1 from my farmer buddy), sweet peppers ($2 for 15 or so; we used about $1's worth), zucchini (free from farm), patty pan squash (free from farm), fairy tale eggplant (free from farm) and nectarines for dessert ($.58 from Aldi). We served the burgers with tomatoes and onions from the farm (free) and homemade refrigerator pickles (made from free veggies). So including condiments, we spent $5 and had enough leftover for lunch the next day.
* I made another batch of radish pickles.
* I dried bread heels to use for crumbs.
* I made a huge batch of pesto for the freezer.
* I froze some boiled beets and carrots.
* We went hiking at a lovely state park about an hour away. It had been so long since we've been able to get out for a hike. We did a four-mile loop. It was a lovely park, with lots of waterfalls. Afterwards, we went to get ice cream at a agritourism mecca nearby. I also got to pet some goats and calves, so I was pretty happy. We ate well before we left, and brought drinks with, so the only cost was $8 for ice cream and $8 in gas to get there.
* We loved getting to see all the waterfalls at the state park. It was a little too crowded to get to see much wildlife besides some squirrels. However, we did off-trail a bit to the river to watch fish and crawdads. Plus, it is always wonderful to get away from the city and get lost in the woods.
* We looked at mattresses when we went out for household items with part of our tax money. I shopped around while shopping with my friend and knew the place that had the cheapest. Trucker was mortified when he saw the price (it's been a solid decade since we bought a mattress and that was at our salvage grocer, so it was cheap). One queen sized mattress was on sale for almost 50% since it was the floor model. It did show a fair amount of wear, more than I typically see on a floor model (I usually suggest buying display models. This may be the exception since so many people hop on it to try it out, while no one tries baking a cake in the display ovens). We decided not to buy it because it was a queen and we currently have a full. To buy that, we would still have had to spend $130 on a box spring and buy all new sheets (and I've just recently got us fully stocked with a variety of both summer and winter sets). Trucker looked around at some online auctions and found a really nice full-sized mattress for $50. He listed our mattress on OfferUp for $35 and sold it the next morning. So basically, we paid $15.
* I made a credit card payment on the last card that was 4x the minimum payment. This will not be my only payment this month.
* I did use this card to buy some household items that we had budgeted from our tax refund. I had planned to spend about $350 on household repairs/materials. I put that money on the balance as soon as I got the money so I wouldn't pay interest on that $350 for those few weeks. However, we ended up only spending $286. We shopped around to get the best prices. We bought 2 interior doors to replace crummy ones that have needed replaced for years. We bought a new screen door for the patio doors since Ray-cat tore down the last one. We paid an additional $10 to get the heavy-duty one that was reinforced at the handle; this was the exact area where the old screen was bent from the previous owners, warping the entire door and making it difficult to open. I also found a metal wire theft-prevention cover that is half the height of the door. We plan to put that in front of the screen to keep her from clawing at it. If that doesn't work, we will spend $10 to get special pet-resistant screen. Trucker has wanted to put window frames up in the master bedroom since we moved in. Admittedly, it is a boring looking room. He figured out what he wanted and we comparison shopped. Some of the stained oak pieces were on sale for just $1 more per 7-foot piece than the unstained pine ones. The 4 accent pieces were $1.50 more each, but we figured for a total of $9 extra, we don't have to buy any stain or mess with it. That was acceptable for us. We also got several tools that Trucker will need for these (and a few other) projects, and will then have for future projects. We also got a new mailbox since the one that came with the house was too small for the volume of mail we get, and part of it fell off on a near-daily basis. We got the cheapest one that suited our needs. We ended up buying a lot of small things that we hadn't planned on (small projects and tools), but since we had shopped around and found incredible deals on the doors, we still came out spending $64 less than we had budgeted for the three doors.
* When we first decided to buy a house, Trucker told me that he was fine with buying a home, as long as I understood that he was not handy and had no intention of becoming handy, so I would have to hire out all work. Turns out, he is quite handy. He is constantly doing minor repairs, maintaining the house, and adding lovely touches, such as the Mid-Century medicine cabinet he installed last month. He even learned how to fix our furnace and water heater! He is absolutely amazing and I am so thankful I have him as my partner.
* I am using my rewards credit card for almost all of my purchases. I earn 1-5% cash back. I am currently letting them sit in my rewards account because I am not sure that I wouldn't lose control of spending and use it for...something. I do need to set up a savings account at a bank that is ridiculously inconvenient so it makes it harder to spend savings.
* I got two month's worth of mileage reimbursement and put it towards my credit card.
* I composted weird things.
* I used old newspapers, bubble wrap and boxes to ship packages.
* I have started a bin in the kitchen for non-glossy paper waste so that I get more browns in my compost and further reduce my household waste.
* My boss has been wonderful at letting me make up hours as needed to take care of my family. Trucker needed to go to the doctor and I needed to be present. My wonderful boss encouraged me to take whatever time I needed and they would make it work on their end. I made sure to get him in to the doctor on a slower day rather than the next day when it was a busier workday. I was able to pick up a few hours throughout the week and made up for the lost hours. I am so thankful that I have found myself working with a team that treats everyone as a person. It certainly makes life more pleasant, and keeps morale high.
* I packed a lunch each day I worked except Friday. Every Friday we have a cookout. The boss made hamburgers, someone else brought chips and salsa and I brought some cookies. It was so much fun and so delicious.
* Trucker ate for free one day at work.
* Trucker got Sunday off work since it was a slow week. We enjoyed getting a day to spend together.
* Our alarm clock started running fast. Trucker bought another one and made sure it took batteries so when the power goes out, we don't lose the time (especially important since I work early in the morning).
* I put up lots of food for winter.
* My insomnia got really bad this week and I ended up getting 15 minutes one day before going to work.
* Trucker started to have some scary side effects, so we had to go to the doctor to get things all fixed up. The doctor strongly encouraged him to cut back on the caffeine and increase the cardio. These are things both of us need to do, so it will be good to help each other. We bought some decaf coffee to cut in to the regular to reduce the caffeine in each pot (He usually drinks just shy of 2 pots a day).
* I have been better this week at drinking more water while at work.
* Both of our farm stands went fabulously well! We were super busy both days and I got to meet so many fantastic people. I am blown away by how lovely people are. Many of them are concerned with my personal safety, or watch over the farm while we are away. I got to talk with one fabulous woman for awhile this week after the farm stand.
* I met the moderator of a fantastic local Facebook group. She is a veteran who is passionate about food security. She started a page to let other vets know how to get access to healthy food and it just sort of grew from there. Locals that are interested in finding about getting affordable, healthy food can check her out: Free Food Soldier.
* I helped my friend another day to get all settled in.