Saturday, August 19, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 7/24 - 8/13

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 more large tomatoes. I harvest a handful or two of cherry tomatoes each day. My garden is fairly well shaded, so I do not get a huge harvest. However, I get enough to provide a good supplement and I know once I get that "perfect land" with a "perfect plot" I'll have better results.
* I harvested a ton of basil. Okay, not a literal ton, but a fairly substantial harvest. I've also been harvesting bits of parsley, oregano, rosemary and sage.
* We are getting a decent amount of peppers, all of them small. Again, shade.

* I went to the farm stand and got: purple carrots (both Dragon and completely purple varieties), lettuce (red and green loose-leaf lettuces, one head each) and zucchini. The second time I went, I got shishitos, lettuce and patty pan squash. They also had you-pick flowers so I picked a bouquet for Mom and another small one for Trucker.
* We made pork tacos with some ground pork we got at Kroger in the manager's special section. It was a whopping $.75/lb! We bought all three packages they had. We served them on hard shell tacos (from the pantry. I'd bought them for our anniversary party and no one wanted them. I don't care for hard shell tacos, but they were fine after we warmed them in the toaster oven for awhile). We also had sour cream (sale), lettuce (farm stand), tomatoes (my garden), pickled peppers (put up awhile back) and a pinch of cheese.
* We made yummy sandwiches for lunch one day: fried egg, bacon, pepper jack cheese, tomato (first large tomato from our garden!) and loads of basil (from the garden). It was marvelous.
* Trucker got some avocados on sale, so I made avocado toast for breakfast (Does this mean I don't get to keep my house?). I served with bacon, fried eggs and sliced tomato. It was amazing.
* Trucker made me breakfast in bed twice this week. Once it was french toast, fried sausage, banana, roll and coffee. The other time it was pancakes, eggs and banana. He is so wonderful.
* I made breakfast one morning. I made pancakes (Trucker had put half of the pancake batter into the frig. All it needed was a good stir and it was good as fresh), fried eggs, pan-seared cherry tomatoes and shishito peppers, and a little squash bake I made with sour cream, cheese and crushed crackers on top (simple and weird, but very good).

* We went out for dinner my last night on first shift (since I needed to stay up super late to be ready for the next night). We went to Olive Garden with a gift certificate that a friend had given us for our anniversary. We paid just a little after the card, plus tip. It was a lovely evening. I always enjoy dating Trucker.
* We did a several coffee dates, using our travel mugs for a discount.
* We went out to my parents place for a fish fry. They had gone to Florida on vacation and brought back fish. They fried up the fish, along with some shrimp. I brought caprese salad, coleslaw and sauerkraut. My sister had bought some really good honey so she served that with some corn bread. We had a lot of fun talking with the family. We are all a pretty goofy group. It is kinda fun watching our family grow, now that we have a bro-in-law and another on the way.
* We went on the World's Longest Yard Sale. We only hit one state, but it was great fun. We found some fun items. I got some jewelry for $.25-1 apiece. We each got some books for $1 or less, including some fun books on our wishlist. I got a couple funky vintage containers to use for storage: an old cash box and a rusty old trash can with lid. I think that I will store *something* (unsure exactly what yet. Maybe yarn since I have way too much in my stash now) in the trash can in the bedroom and put one of my spilling plants on top of it. We found some decorative items for a room we are working on. I found some awesome houseplants. I got a giant canna plant for $4, 4 hen and chick plants for $.25 each, and elephant ear plants for $1.50 each. Trucker got some new loppers for $3.

* We went hiking at a nature preserve about an hour away. It was an awesome day. We loved looking for mushrooms and checking out butterflies. We also got to walk around the old canal and through a tunnel.
* We went to a local arboretum. We walked through the half we haven't seen yet. There were so many beautiful gardens and interesting trees. They had a nature discovery center that they use for kids' programs and homeschooling events. There were lots of taxidermy animals, owl pellets, bones, feathers and a beehive that was set up so you could see inside. We also went to the arboretum history center to read dedications and speeches from famous people who planted trees there.
* We went to the living historical farm just outside of the city. We go a couple times a year and I always love it. There is something so reviving about being able to be on a farm, pet the animals, and see what projects they are doing, from butchering turkeys to making tomato juice.

* I signed up for a raffle at work for attending a farmer's market. I can sign up each time I visit one until the end of August. I also signed up for a raffle for doing some healthy practices each day. The company offers a lot of raffles and drawings for different healthy or community-driven activities. I plan to sign up for all of them. I won't win most, but eventually I might win something.
* I signed up for our insurance a couple days after I officially started. While I had 31 days to sign up, I was afraid something would come up and I would miss the deadline. The insurance looks great. For the rest of this year, it is completely free. Next year it will cost $6-46 dollars a month, depending on which plan I chose. Either way, it is much cheaper than the $105/month we were paying (after our subsidy)
* I signed up for my 401k. I get a 100% match up to 6%, plus my employer kicks in an additional 2-4% depending on how long I have worked for them. I got a letter saying that they are counting my time as a temp in determining how much extra they kick in. I also set it up so that every year on January 1 it bumps up my contribution by 1%. I invested in a target date account. All told, I'll be getting a good amount put away for retirement.

House and Home:
* Trucker did some small projects around the house, such as adding a spring to the front screen door and putting in screens in windows.
* Trucker hung up some new art.
* Trucker fixed the patio door that was having trouble opening properly.
* In general, Trucker has been fixing a lot of things around the house. We are wanting to move within a year or two, so he is handling fixing up little things to make it easier to sell. We are saving a bundle by not paying a professional to do. We use Menards rebates when possible and buy items on sale.

* I started the new job this week (the first week of this post....sorry for yet another delay). I am so excited and relieved to be in a good, stable job. The first few days of the week were spent in classes and hearing different higher-ups speak. It was exciting to hear about some possible career paths and talk with people about steps to take. I feel hopeful.
* I got sent back to my old department, although now on second shift. I'm so happy. I loved the work I was doing and am so happy to continue. They say they try to keep you doing what you were, but it depends on their needs, so I got myself prepared to go elsewhere. When they told me I got to stay, it felt like I won the lottery. My new crew seems pretty nice too.
* Still a few weeks in, I like the crew and the work. I've also learned some new jobs, so now I get a lot more variety in my work day.

* Trucker's commercial came out. It is so cool to see him in a commercial!

* I got signed up for our new insurance. This is the first time I've had real benefits at a job (I had a job once that offered health insurance and it was twice as expensive as our previous ACA exchange insurance and had a huge deductible we had to hit before copays kicked in, whereas our ACA plan had a copay before short, it had cost us way more for less coverage). I am amazed at how much coverage we get with the current plan. For this year at least, the company pays all of our (really generous) health, dental, vision, prescription, life, short and long term disability insurance. We will not have to pay a penny for any health care until after the first $2000, then we pay a small deductible, then have copays. I added accidental death and dismemberment and extra life insurance for each of us for a grand total of $35/year. Not too shabby for all of our health care needs. As I understand it, the costs will go up nominally next year, but this is still fantastic.
* Our insurance is free/super cheap only if we earn a certain number of points for healthy activities each year. In general, I support this idea. Yeah, the reason they do it is to save money on their expenses, but I do like adding that financial incentive to patients/clients to maintain healthy practices. Already, we each have 400 of the 1000 points I need for next year.
* We signed up for a membership at the health center my employer offers (3 locations, one is across the street from where I park for work). It costs $24/year, so $1/month each. I will obviously use it more than Trucker, as it is an hour from home, but he will use it occasionally. I get to work early each day since I drive to work during rush hour traffic now and a lot can go wrong. My dad suggested working out before work (I'd planned on doing it after work, but this saves me time) since I'd be there already. So now I park, walk across the street to the fitness center, get a run in and lift a little, then head back to work. This is going to be a great way to get back in the shape I want to be in. Trucker and I drove past the factory on the way to my parents place, so we stopped and went swimming for an hour. We didn't swim laps, but were active and got a good workout in.

* We had some car trouble and had to take the car to my cousin to get repaired. It ended up being just a loose hose and it cost $20 to get fixed. Without him, there is no way we could afford to have a second car and I definitely couldn't afford to drive so far to work since the maintenance would be cost-prohibitive when commuting 500 miles a week. I don't know what we would do without him.

* Trucker volunteered at the homeless shelter.
How was your week?


  1. Busy couple of weeks!! Good luck on the new job and those benefits - WOW, something we should not take for granted. Even though we have a giant deductible, I am still grateful to have some kind of health insurance. Take care and thanks for the updates, I look forward to your posts :)

    1. Thank you, Beth! The benefits are definitely what makes this job. It is a big commute and hard work, but worth it. We lived without insurance for several years and when we finally got insurance, albeit with a large deductible, it was amazing how much our quality of life increased.


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