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 harvested several hot peppers from the indoor garden (what with my insane schedule, I haven't been able to pick off the flowers fast enough and next thing I know, I have full-grown peppers!).
* One evening Trucker made pork chops and green beans for dinner. The next, I pan-fried the last two pork chops and served with candied carrots (a mix of orange, white and purple from the farm; free seconds), Colcannon ($.15/lb potatoes-2, a bunch of green curly kale, free from the farm), pan gravy (using the leftover milk from dipping the pork chops and a pinch of flour) and half a mini bagel each (I didn't have bread, so I made do with some mini-bagels in the freezer; $.29/bag of 24, so about half a penny per serving). It was amazing.
* I forgot to grab milk and bread at the grocer, but knew if I went back I would get a lot of stuff. So I made milk from the nonfat powder I had on hand (given to me from my mom; her friend got them with her diet plan, but hates it) and used a bag of mini bagels from the freezer. When we need to save money, substitutes, hacks and make-do's are the key to avoiding spending.
* I went to my salvage grocer. My deals this time included: chai tea concentrate ($.39/quart), evaporated milk ($.10/can), flavored instant grits ($.10/box; basically just wanting to have some on hand for lazy days when take out is tempting), a variety of organic cereals ($.25-.50 a box), toilet paper ($1.49 per double-roll 4-pack; 100% post-consumer recycled material...*cue bathroom jokes about recycled toilet paper*), seltzer water ($1.99/50 cans in a case), gatorade ($.59, Trucker loves having gatorade on hand and it helps him drink less coffee/beer, so it is a totally fine beverage)
* I have been lazy overall in cooking this week. Basically, most nights I have just cooked some tortellini, then tossed with sauteed onions, peppers and greens (what I've gotten free from the farm) and either mornay or tomato sauce.
* Once Trucker was allowed off of bed rest, I slowly eased him back into things (when I left the house, I think he pushed himself harder, but he is a grown man, so I can only do so much). One of the early things I let him do was help me preserve food. We assembly lined our peppers. I cleaned and sliced the peppers. He sat and assembled them on trays. He took a few breaks, but it helped me a lot and got him out of the bedroom.
* I made two types of hot sauce. One was made with Bangkok Thai chiles and has the most intense orange-y red color. The other was a use-it-up sauce made from Jalapenos, Black Hungarian Hot Wax, Serrano and Padron peppers. Basically, everything in the frig that wasn't a bright cheery red. Honestly, it looks pitiful but is tasty enough.
* Since Trucker has to limit screen time, we've taken to cuddling in bed while I read science-fiction short stories aloud. It is such a peaceful way to pass the time, and there is nothing that quite compares to him falling asleep in my arms while I read to him.
* We also play sorry or backgammon every night. Somehow he has kicked my butt every time. We were joking at the hospital that he had "hit his head and now can speak perfect Swedish". Now we are saying that with his accident, he has gained incredible board game skills.
* We have been going out on walks almost daily to get him out of the house. He gets so stir-crazy stuck at home, so a little .5-1.5 mile walk means the world to him, without being a big stressor.
* I took him out for Baskin Robbins one evening since we had a BOGO coupon.
* We went out to the Audubon to read one day instead of going to a coffee house for our coffee date. We brought our own coffee and read on a park bench.
* I took my sister out for coffee after the viewing. We hadn't been able to hang out for a long time, so it was nice to catch up. I had a free pastry on my rewards card, so we split that.
* We went on walks most days. Trucker was having a really hard time being stuck at home all the time. To keep him from being so bored he got online, I took him out to a park just down the road. We would walk for 5-10 minutes and stop long before he got tired. It was fantastic to see the fall colors and sunsets.
* I sold the car. First thing after work on Monday, I started making my phone calls. I arranged to sell the car to a local auto-parts store for $100 (higher than the $75 I was quoted everywhere else) with free towing from the impound lot to their location. We arranged that they would drop the car out front so I could get tags/personal items when I got there after work. The fees to get the car out of the impound lot was $125. Since the accident happened on a Friday, and I took care of it on Monday, I did't have to pay the $56 storage fee. They also said after I paid the fees, I had 24-hours to have the car removed. I went out to the car and took out Trucker's personals. I won't post the photos because it is pretty graphic. The woman said that when she saw it, she was certain that no one could have survived that. They dropped it in the back and a couple of the guys took the tags off. I think they didn't know I'd seen the car and didn't want me to have to face seeing the car where perhaps a loved one had died. I wanted to get some personal items out of it, and she walked out with me. I was so touched by her kindness and the kindness of the few guys I talked with there. I do so love seeing the goodness in people. I brought them donuts one morning to say thanks.
* I will use the tags from the car on the new vehicle.
* I got Trucker's cell phone because as I have to go back to work/out of town, I need to be able to check on him. He got on my parents' family plan for $15. His phone was $7 a month, but since he got it that week, he gets a $7/month credit, so it is free with a 24 month contract. While we will have to pay off his phone on the old plan ($120, but we still would have had to do so before getting him a new phone on that plan), he will save $65 a month for the same amount of data and a slightly better network. He has a Samsung now, instead of the iPhone he had before, but he says he likes his new phone.
* I got a $16 check from the insurance company to pay for medicine and ice pack for Trucker.
* I deposited my $100 check from the car and my mileage checks from work into savings. I'll try not to touch them, but it is good to know I've got that little bit extra.
* I realized I have more in savings than I thought I did. I vaguely remember making a large deposit at an ATM intending to make a few car payments to get ahead, but then wasn't able to transfer the money over the phone. So I wrote another check to pay in person later. The amount was more than our mortgage payment, so it is fantastic to know that I have that emergency-fund. I'd already prepaid the mortgage a month, so we are set on that for a bit.
* I composted lots of things.
House and Home:
* Since Trucker has to limit screen time, he has taken to tidying up and taking care of some organizational tasks. It is looking great and I'm thankful for him.
* I will say, this whole thing has given me renewed gratitude for Trucker. For the first week, I took care of most of the housework, which has traditionally been his realm (I generally work more outside the home, and he takes care of more home tasks, mainly because I am inept at them). He really takes care of a lot of things. I will definitely be more mindful in the coming weeks because I frankly don't know how he does it.
* I worked 3 days at the farm. One day was a short day. I got to take home a few seconds, but not as many as I used to.
* I worked one day at Trucker's job. I love his boss and boss's wife, so basically it is a fun way to get a workout (and workout I did!).
* I have a job lead. Find out next week if it is going to work. If not I'll be hitting a job fair. A friend is a manager at a restaurant where I used to work; she said if I need to I can always work there for as long/short as I need as much as I need. So kind of her.
* We have definitely had a major setback. It will take us quite awhile to get back to where we were, but we are scrappy. We have always been able to get through horrible things, as long as we are together. Already, we have rather seamlessly slipped back into our old methods. Reading at the park, instead of at a coffee house ($3.19 savings), ate from the pantry instead of buying groceries, getting utilities lowered. We really are a great team, and I'm sure we will get through. I mean, back during the recession, we made a combined $1250 a month with $850 in rent and somehow were never late for a bill. We can pull some rabbits out of hats.
* We made some good sales at the booth, fortunately.
* I know this sounds silly, but one of my friends works in the field that I was considering going into. She contacted me to see how we were doing, and we got to talking. She said that I should definitely look into online learning opportunities and go from there, rather than jump into an expensive education. It encouraged me a lot. I still don't know if I will ever make this particular career change, but this gave me back a glimmer of hope, a bit of a feeling that maybe there is a good future out there.
* Trucker is recovering well, thankfully. His head was grotesque the night of the accident. Over the last week, he has gotten all of the glass out and the main cut/scraped area is now clean, smooth skin. He says his pain level is down from the 8-9 it was a few days after the accident, to a 4-5, as long as he doesn't laugh or sneeze. The main source of pain still is the chest from the seat belt. His brain is pretty sharp, but he is getting back into the swing of things slowly. Perhaps not as slowly as I wish he would, but better than I thought he would. I have been giving him supplements to aid healing, multivitamin, iron supplements (to help with previous health issue; slightly higher dose after the accident since he lost a lot of blood), and feeding him very well. I like to credit my careful diet moderation and supreme Neosporin application techniques for his quick recovery.
* I've been binge eating, which is apparently how I deal with things now. I know it isn't healthy, and towards the end of the week, I got it more under control. Hope to do better next week. I think my will/brain just broke this week, and I'm pretty much ok with doing whatever it takes to make it through this, and later I'll deal with the other complications. Rationalizing, sure, but considering most days it is hard to get up and deal with all the things I have to, I am okay with that.
* Still waiting to see how this all pans out. I've had a couple of really rough days, but overall am ok. Ever since the accident, my life is running from work to errands to home for thousands (or so it seems) of phone calls to more errands. I basically go into robot mode to get it all done because there is no time to think, no time to feel, just do. This is punctuated by hours where I collapse and sob. The realities of what has happened breaks my heart and terrifies me. We have been through some scary and hard times before, but this has been different. Every time I leave or hang up the phone with him, I overthink every word I say. I am terrified my last words to him will be "Goodbye" instead of "I love you." It has been crippling in a lot of ways. He is going through lots of intense emotions. Coming that close, being cooped up indoors, restricted actions, not being able to work or drive, it has been rough on him. He is usually pretty good to a point and then isn't. I've been trying to be mindful of what he is going through. Even if I am exhausted, I try to always take him out for a bit when I get home, since he has been cooped up inside with no personal interaction. Also I am trying to find that fine line between careful reminders to nagging.
* The night of Trucker's accident my cousin died. I made it to the viewing one evening, but not the funeral because Trucker was still needing to be attended to. It was an hour+ drive away. It was so hard seeing my uncle, aunt and cousin deal with this unexpected tragedy. It seemed that the entire family is experiencing a period of unrelenting struggle. We were all drained and heartbroken, but were there for each other, in a beautiful way we always are.
* I have one more week at the farm. I am heartbroken. Not much more to say beyond that.
* Trucker's boss sent me home with a free office chair that was returned (for having no arms...but it seems perfectly fine). His wife sent me home with four bags of chips that Trucker likes. I gave them a few cans of seltzer that I got for cheap.
* My parents bought a van for us. Their friend was selling a decent 20-year-old van for $900, but he accepted their offer of $700. He cleaned it out really well and it runs nicely. They said we can pay them back when the job/medical situation gets figured out. They really saved us because it would have limited where I could work if we had to go back to one car.
* My coworker wanted to make us dinner, but she isn't feeling 100%. She gave us a gift certificate for a chain restaurant. The meals there are enough to feed the both of us, so it is enough for 4 dinners. It was so kind of her.