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.
* We had the last of the pulled pork from the freezer as BBQ sandwiches.
* I made tacos one evening using ground beef (from Aldi) sauteed with onions and garlic (from the pantry; onions from Aldi @ $.33/lb and garlic from the garden), store brand tortillas, sour cream, pickled beets/radishes/peppers/onions, and homemade hot sauce (using free peppers from the farm). I served with slices of fresh radish ($.69/lb at Aldi).
* I pulled a container of taco soup from the freezer. So delicious and a perfect quick and easy dinner.
* Trucker made dinner for me one evening: penne and tomato sauce. He had it finishing up when I walked in the door. I love him so much.
* We snacked on fresh veggies a lot. I love having them sliced and ready for noshing.
* We made BLT's one evening. We used half as much bacon as usual and I made a veggie side to go with it. That allowed us to use the bacon in other meals throughout the week.
* Since we don't really celebrate Christmas, we have our own little ritual. We go out for Chinese buffet, go hiking at a metropark and catch a movie at the discount theatre. We had a great time and had really good talks. Dinner was $25 with tip (we called around last year and found the best meal for the cheapest price; we drank water). We watched Sully and bought no snacks. All told, we spent $$28.50.
* I took my sister and her boyfriend out for coffee one afternoon. They are both the sweetest people and I always have a great time. We ended up talking for almost 4 hours! I gave them some financial advice (they are both young and at the point in their lives when they are contemplating starting out on their own) and they gave me some good advice as I start working in a new department at the factory.
* Trucker and I went out on a few coffee dates, using our travel mugs.
* We went out with our dear friends, Daisy and her hubby, for NYE. We went to a local pizza place that was surprisingly empty. Trucker and I got a happy hour drink (they still had happy hour prices even though it was the holiday) and split two appetizers instead of getting meals. We ended up laughing and talking for 3 hours. Our bill was $30, which is not bad for an evening out with our besties on New Year's Eve. We exchanged gifts. We gave Daisy a couple books (from a library sale), including a vegan cookbook she didn't have, and salt and pepper shakers (which she collects). We gave hubby a couple Star Wars themed hygiene gift sets we got on after-holiday sales at Meijer. They gave us crackers and this incredibly delicious cheese dip and kombucha (which I hadn't tried before and was really excited about). We absolutely adore them. They are the kind of people that you get excited about hanging out with (which says a lot coming from two people with social anxiety) and miss as soon as you leave.
* We took a lovely 2 mile out and back hike at the metropark on Christmas. It was right in the middle between the Chinese buffet and the movie theatre, so it took no extra gas to get there. There weren't a lot of people there, so there was much more bird watching to be done and the squirrels were everywhere.
* Trucker was on the way to work when his brake line broke and he got a flat tire. Fortunately, he was right by a gas station. We used our roadside assistance (I believe we pay $2 per car, per month) to get it towed back home. Dad and my mom's cousin came out to fix it for us. Cousin doesn't usually go out of town to fix people's cars, but does for us when we need him to. He charged us $50, plus parts. Not too bad for having a flat changed, new brake line installed, new thermostat and temperature gauge.
* We bought new tires for both vehicles at once. Since we were buying 8 tires at once, Trucker asked for a discount. It ended up being 12% off. They didn't have the tires I wanted, so they got a nicer tire and gave it to me at the same price (with a 65k mile warranty instead of 50k). It handles really well on the snow, which is great since I'll be driving a lot more now.
* I bought new socks since a lot of mine are worn beyond darning. I found them BOGO at Meijer and bought two packs of plain black ones so I can have an easier time of sorting. Also, when I do have to throw out worn socks, I can just mix pairs, stretching my purchase out longer.
House and Home:
* We are continuing to work on my step daughter's room and Trucker found the perfect thing! I wanted to get a trundle bed since the room is on the small side. I knew we wouldn't have enough room for both a dresser and a desk, and since she is an artist and writer, she needs a desk. However, the cheapest I've found one is around $200. Trucker has been looking at auctions and finally struck gold: a nice black trundle bed with 3 drawers under it for $60! We have to assemble it, but he saved $140!
* Trucker bought a new mattress off his boss for $10 ($160 retail). He also got a set of sheets ($3; $40 retail) and a comforter ($4; $30 retail), both in blue (her favorite color), at online auction. It has been so fun putting together her room and daydreaming about visits.
* I temped for the fruit arrangement place for two days. It was fun. I really like everyone who works there, especially the owner, so I like being able to help. I put in 12.5 hours over two days and made some nice money from it while getting to eat as much mistake chocolate covered fruit as I liked. Win-Win-Win.
* I worked full-time at my friend's restaurant. She was really awesome to help me out of a bind like that. I made sure to do right by her. I tried to do my job well (even when it meant ignoring rude comments from customers) and whenever it was slow, I tackled a cleaning project to help get ready for a big corporate visit. I got a super discount on food. I sometimes brought home a bagel for Trucker and I got my meals for $.75-2.
* I got my start date at the factory! I start next week. I am really excited. I will be 1st shift at the factory I wanted. This will be the highest paying job I've ever had. We have made a solid plan to get our finances where we want them. The main goal is to not upgrade our standard of living, beyond things that are needed. For example, I want to start buying pastured meat from a farmer I know rather than whatever junk we find on sale at the grocery. I will likely buy a half hog and perhaps some whole chickens for the freezer. This will cost more, but be worthwhile in health benefits. Within the next year, we would also like to buy a newer car that would be more reliable (and sell the van which gets terrible gas mileage). Otherwise, we want to continue our frugal ways so that we can get the money saved up for our property in the country.
* Trucker gave my parents a "new"/unused vintage rug he got at auction. Value: ~$300-400. He paid $5 (it was an online auction house that typically doesn't sell vintage, but did an estate auction. Their typical clientele didn't bid much on it). They needed a new rug so they were happy.
* Trucker's coworker gave us a gift card to Chipotle. She said she knew we had had a rough 6 weeks and she wanted us to not have to worry about dinner for a couple nights. It was so kind of her.
* I took part in a secret santa gift exchange through an online frugal community I take part in. I won't say what I got, since it is secret, but I was frugal and got some fun stuff for the $10 limit. My gift was a lovely shoulder wrap and hat, handmade in an lovely cream color, and a Canadian cookbook. I can't wait to try out some of the recipes and the warm clothes have been perfect now that the temperature has dropped so much.
* I helped my dad work on the house they are moving next door for my sister and BIL. It was a warm day, but muddy. He had a lot of gravel that needed to be moved around the foundation. My sister, dad and I moved over a ton of gravel though mud that was a foot deep. We lay down boards that we would run down, then turn down the next side of the house, then run until the wheelbarrow got stuck, dump out the gravel at that spot, dumping out a little bit on the ground to make the path longer for the next runner, then pull the wheelbarrow out of the mud and go back to shoveling. It was really hard work, but we had a lot of fun, in a weird way. It was important to me to help dad since he is doing so much work. To move all of that gravel by himself would have been really disheartening. Afterwards, I took him out for ice cream at McDonald's ($2 total). We totally rationalized that we'd burned sufficient calories to justify it. Afterwards, we went out to the house to do some work to prepare it for moving.
How was your week?