Sunday, January 29, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 1/23 - 1/29

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.
 Cooking/Groceries:
* Trucker made sausage and spaghetti one night.
* I made tacos for dinner one evening. We used ground pork ($1.50/lb) and saved over half for another meal. I added sour cream (sale) and some pickled veggies (seconds from the farm).
* I made another slow cooker lasagna/eggplant parmesan hybrid for work lunches this week.
* Trucker bought me a couple packs of seasoned peanuts from the dollar store. They are great snacks for the drive home when my appetite is ravenous.

Fun:
* A few weeks ago, I ordered an Entertainment book, $20 with free shipping. We have already used a BOGO coupon when we went out with my sister and her boyfriend (Saved $7). This is a great way to save money throughout the year. We keep it in the car so we don't forget about it. We
* I got off work a little early on Friday. We had decided we wanted to make it a special weekend since it has been exhausting for the last few weeks. We talked about getting out of town for a couple days, but decided to take a day trip on Saturday instead (thus saving hotel cost). Friday night we went out for dinner at a local pizzaria using BOGO coupons to save $15 and had enough leftover for another dinnner. Early Saturday morning, we ate breakfast then headed out of town. We ended up two states over and ran around Pittsburgh for a bit. We brought coffee and snacks. We went to Randyland, a magical art garden. Afterwards, it was to Bicycle Heaven to see the biggest collection of bikes and bike accessories, scattered with some random weird stuff. We didn't have cash to donate (free admission; donations accepted), but purchased a couple of items. I had been wanting to get a walking stick and had been passively shopping for awhile. I found one for $15 that was simple and funky (it has two faces carved into the handle). Trucker was entranced by the fern fossils, and had never had one, so I bought him a small one for $5. After that, we went next door to Johnny Angel's Ginchy Stuff and Music Museum. Afterwards, we went to a local sub shop. We spent around $15 for two subs. We ate at around 3, so had one meal out instead of two. It was quite a cheap trip and was almost as good as a long weekend.
* We went out for ice cream with BOGO coupons.
* We went on a couple of coffee dates, using our travel mugs.

Waste Reduction:
* I put bones and veggie scraps into a container in the freezer to use for making stock later.
* I composted random things.

It's the Hoppy trike! I squealed when I saw it.
House and Home:
* Trucker's boss gave him a stool that he wasn't able to sell. It needs to be assembled but will be a nice addition to the kitchen for now and will eventually end up in a work space at the next house.

Work:
* I worked a bit of overtime this week, but not an excessive amount. One thing I really like about this job is that I get paid overtime when I hit 8 hours in a day, not when I hit 40 hours. So we went home early two days, and worked over the other three days, but I got a fair amount of overtime.
* My boss and coworkers are all really great people. I've loved the discussions I've been able to have. I see a lot of people sharing coupons with each other, and some people have given me recommendations for service companies as we work to fix up the house. One of my coworkers is a pretty awesome single dad to two boys (one adopted). He mentioned that he realized that his boys were getting older and he decided to take them out for a special outing twice a month. I brought him coupons from the Entertainment book to use to save some money (There are lots of kid-friendly coupons that we weren't going to use, so I brought those, plus a few others for places in his neighborhood. Once it gets to be about 2 months until expiration, I'll pull out any I think we might use, and I'll bring the rest of the book to the break room for everyone). I love being part of this community. In general, for the last few years especially, I have found that I go into my jobs and expect to find a good situation, and gosh darn it, I always do. Reminds me, again, of that silly joke of my dad's and, again, makes me hopeful for my future.

Health:
I absolutely love this piece from
Bicycle Heaven. I would love to
some similar projects for the house.
* I have maintained my practice of stretching frequently-on the drive to work, during morning meeting, whenever there is a few seconds in between tasks, on the way home. When the health aids came to check up on me this week, I was happy to report that I had no real issues. There is some light soreness at the end of the day, but nothing like I was afraid of experiencing.
* I am continually so proud of Trucker quitting smoking. We are coming up to a year since he quit and he hasn't had so much as a drag. Kicking tobacco is such an overwhelming feat, and I am so proud of how hard he has worked.

Community:
* There is a cafeteria in between my and my sister's work departments. She works two days a week, so we have lunch together those days. It is a nice thing to look forward to and I enjoy getting some sister time. My sister and I also met after work one day to get hot chocolate and talk for a couple hours.
* For Valentine's day last year, Trucker got me a box of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle kids' Valentines and on each, wrote something he loved about me. He hid them around the house for me to find. It was by far the sweetest gift I've ever received. Especially as someone who struggles with depression (and all the lovely feelings that entails), they were so encouraging when I was having a rough day. Since it meant so much to me, I decided to do the same for him. He had had a really rough couple of days, so while he was at a meeting, I hid a few dozen post-its around the house with things I appreciated about him. He is still finding them. This is seriously the best frugal Valentine's/Anniversary gift. Costs little more than time, and creates a cherished keepsake.
* I found my gift for my stepdaughter for Valentine's Day. There were some buttons for "our" show that were $3-5 online. I found them for $1.25 and bought several, some of them matching for us.
How was your week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money TWO WEEKS 1/9 - 1/22

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.

Cooking/Groceries:
* Trucker made an amazing Hawaiian rice dish. I pulled a tiny ham out of the freezer (it had been BOGO, so $1.50 each for about a half pound) overnight. He diced it with pineapple and some veggies from the frig and served over rice with sweet and sour sauce. So yummy.
* I made banana bread each Sunday for my work-day breakfasts and for Trucker to snack on. Whenever bananas get too dark for Trucker to eat (I don't like eating them fresh, so it's all him), I toss them into the freezer. Then I use them for baking, smoothies or chocolate peanut butter banana shakes (which are basically milkshakes that I get to pretend are healthy).
* I mentioned making lasagna last week, but I used it for lunches this week. I figured out the cost per meal and thought i would share this here. I like figuring out the cost per ingredient and per meal as it gives me a starting point to reduce the cost of the meal, often while improving nutritive benefits. To make, I layered into a slow cooker pot, tomato sauce (1 jar, $1, plus some leftover chili and the dregs of another jar of sauce ), 1/3 box of lasagna noodles uncooked ($.69/box, so $.23), eggplant noodles (I alternated layers of lasagna noodles and eggplant noodles. dehydrated slices of eggplant, free from the farm), cottage cheese (manager's special for $.75), TVP ($1.99/lb; about $.50 worth, if that), leeks (frozen, free from the farm), garlic (from the garden, free since I save my own seed), peppers (frozen, free from the farm), Italian seasoning mix (free, dehydrated from herbs I grow), and a sprinkling of mozzarella ($1.50/12 oz; so about $.25). All of this is cooked on high for 4-6 hours in the slow cooker. Total: $2.73 for 7 meals, for a per-meal price of $.39. Of course, this does not include energy costs for freezer, dehydrator or slow cooker. The biggest cost savers: using only a light layer of shredded cheese on top, using cottage cheese instead of ricotta and adding tons of bulk in the form of free produce (from the farm or garden; but you could also use produce preserved when you found an awesome sale at Aldi or on manager special), using dehydrated veg in place of noodles. Three of these tips also significantly improve the healthfulness of the dish, which is always top priority.
* Trucker made a quick dinner of grilled cheese (Mine with a jalapeno spread inside) and tinned soup on a night we had a lot of errands to run.
* We found chicken leg quarters on manager's special for $1/lb. We cooked half one day for dinner (with baked potatoes) and with the leftovers we made chicken salad sandwiches for another day. The other half was baked another day, then diced into a chicken pesto pasta dinner (pesto was free with basil from the farm, diced chicken, sauteed onions, peppers and leeks (free seconds from the farm; frozen) pasta from the salvage grocer and manager's special cheese).
* I made pasta salad for work lunches using a variety of items from the frig.
* We had BLTs one day. I saved half of the bacon for other uses (such as mixing into pasta salad to add some umph).
* I made a pineapple strawberry crisp with some fruit I got for free while temping at the restaurant for the holidays (I'd frozen it). I made a crumble topping out of some salvage-grocery hot cereal (Trucker didn't like the texture of it cooked, but it is fine in this), flour, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and butter. It was perfect for snacking and breakfasts.

Fun:
* We went out on a couple coffee dates.
* One evening we were exhausted, so we popped popcorn, watched a movie and were asleep by 7:30.
* We took a day trip up north one day. Trucker had a class, but on the way, we sang to the radio, stopped at a local coffee shop, used bookstore (where Trucker found 3 items on his wishlist for $2.25 each!), and a thrift store. We used a gift card for a dinner out and split the meal.
* One day we want for a couple mile walk around the campus neighborhood, then got donuts from a fantastic little shop. The weather was perfect and we had a lovely time.

Nature:
* We went on a winter hike at a park an hour or so away from home. They had a bean dinner with hot chocolate in the middle of the hike. It was a little crowded for us, so we likely won't go next year. However, it was 60+ degrees and lovely, so it was nice to get outside.

Frugality:
* We replaced my car battery. Trucker used two coupons to save $25 total. He helped me replace it so I didn't have to worry about my car on those frigid 4 AM starts.

House and Home:
* We had to replace our furnace since it was frequently not working for several hours straight, then would randomly turn on. We didn't consider repairing it because it was 40+ years old and wasn't up to code. We also had a 34 year old water year, that didn't work well, and again, wasn't up to code. We decided to see if we could get them both replaced. We will eventually be selling this place and were certain that with half-a-century-old appliances, no one would buy the house (or rent it for that matter). Trucker was amazing. He called in 6 places for estimates. He found one place that was cheaper than the others, but couldn't do the water heater. He found another place that could replace the water heater, but charged more for the furnace. Finally, he found someone that could do both and when he mentioned that he was getting estimates, the guy said he would match the lowest price we had on the furnace and charged less for the water heater than any other company. We researched them thoroughly online and they had fantastic reviews and not a single negative incident with the BBB (but 13 positive reviews). When they got there to replace it, they realized that they had quoted us for a larger water heater, but a smaller one costs more (30 gallon rather than a 40 gallon) and we didn't have room for the larger one. They replaced it with the more expensive heater at no extra cost to us. The service included: replacing the water heater and furnace and getting both up to code, a new thermostat (a really nice one), a carbon-monoxide detector (which had been on my list of items I needed to get for the house), a 10 year warranty for the units, 2 year warranty on labor and a 2 year service contract with spring and fall tune-ups. They both work great and we are much more comfortable. I also assume we will have cheaper energy costs. Also, one of the workers also does plumbing and told Trucker how to fix a couple problems we were having.
* Trucker was able to fix some water pressure issues we were having in the sink in the bathroom. He found a piece of metal that was blocking the water. It took him 5 minutes to take care of.
* He also replaced our leaky kitchen faucet. He bought a kit for $30 at Lowe's and it took him about an hour to replace.

Work:
* I love my new job. Everyone was really friendly and helpful. One woman was so excited to see me; she said she's been waiting a year for another woman to work in this department. The job is really exciting and I feel so tough doing it. Also, this area gets out a little early most days, so I'm pulling out of the parking lot before the other 4k people get out. I timed it and I get home in 30 fewer minutes since I miss the parking lot traffic, that means I miss rush hour in the city, so I'm home 40 minutes early. In my old department, rather than get out a couple minutes early, I'd work an hour overtime each day, so I would hit traffic badly and it would take an extra 45-75 minutes to get home, so I'd get home really late. This is great.
* I brought breakfast on the road and packed a lunch each day. I want to make sure I keep with this habit. One girl I talked with said she was spending $6 a day on breakfast and lunches are $7-12 (the $12 meal is what a salad from the salad bar usually rings up at!). So buying both meals would cost over $3k a year! I spend around $.25 on breakfast (usually it includes a lot of free, preserved items and homemade baked goods), and $.50/packed lunch including sides, so this is $184/year~.
* Trucker worked a lot of extra hours (and has for the last few weeks). He is pretty tired, but making good money.
* I think the most important thing about my job is that I have been asking advice and tips from everyone. Every single person has been great about sharing their tips to shave seconds off each job (which matters when repeating hundreds of times) and to avoid soreness and injury.
* (written a week later) I love this job. I have great conversations with people, including one guy that worked with my dad to start a new line at the factory 30 years ago. I am taking to it quite well and enjoy the work. I basically have no stress, plenty of time for pleasant contemplation, get a gentle workout (now that I've figured out a few things, such as the position of my body to avoid straining certain parts), and the day flies by. I can totally see myself being here in 10 years. 30 years.

Future:
* Trucker's acting class was this week. I am so proud of him. He also had a couple of auditions.
* We went to an event put on by an acting school Trucker hopes to attend this spring.

Health:
* I feel pretty good. In general, I have a nice tiredness to me that comes from getting a good workout. We alternate workouts each day: M-W-F is yoga and arms/weight lifting; T-T is calisthenics and hands. Each day, we walk for a half hour and do stretches for 15 minutes. It ends up being an 1 1/2+ workout. I did this each day for the first week. The second week I did this, then worked on the line for 6 hours.

Community:
* We, along with several friends, served dinner at a homeless shelter in our area.

How was your week?

Monday, January 9, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 1/2 - 1/8

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.
Cooking/Groceries:
* I made breakfast sandwiches with bagels I got from the restaurant. I added eggs ($.99/dozen jumbo, on sale at Meijer), cheese (sale, store brand), and some pickled veggies (on mine, Trucker doesn't like pickled veggies as much as I do)
* I made a quick and easy dip for us one evening as our snack. I mixed together some sour cream, a bit of cream cheese and a good amount of salsa with a bit of a flavoring packet I got at a salvage grocer. I served with tortilla chips I got on sale for $.50/bag (75% off Christmas clearance. They were green and red).
* I made a weird but yummy apple dish. I thawed a baggie of applesauce from the freezer (put up last year from seconds apples) and spread in a thin layer in a baking pan. I had some tad-stale sugar cookies in the freezer. I thawed them and crumbled them up. I added some flour, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp of melted butter, then topped the apple sauce. The toaster oven was occupied, so I let it sit for a half hour, then baked at 350 degrees for a half hour. The result was nice. The top was crisp, then a middle layer that was cake-like and a thin layer of thick applesauce/apple butter at the bottom. It wasn't overly sweet like my apple crisp usually is, so it will be in regular rotation as we look for ways to indulge our sweet tooth without increasing our diabetes risk.
* We had pan-fried pork chops and roasted veggies for dinner one day. I used turnips, carrots, beets (all from the farm), potatoes (Aldi; $.30/lb for multicolored fingerling), radishes (Aldi; $.69/lb) and onions (from the stores; Aldi for $.33/lb), tossed with vegetable oil and some ranch seasoning that I got at a salvage grocery. It was absolutely fantastic. We had one pork chop and a serving of vegetables left over, which I used for breakfast one day.
* I made Colcannon with collards (from the farm) and potatoes (Aldi; $.25/lb). I used little milk and no cream.
* I made a slow cooker lasagna to use for work lunches. I used a box of lasagna noodles (realized as I was finishing the last layer that I forgot about my eggplant noodles. Boo. I'll just have to make lasagna again soon), the last of a jar of tomato sauce in the frig, plus another jar from the pantry, a small bag of leeks from the freezer, half a baggie of frozen peppers, a container of cottage cheese ($.75 on manager's special), about a cup of TVP granules, a handful of cheddar (store brand) and herbs from the indoor garden.
* We got some good manager's specials: eggnog for $.50/half gallon, cottage cheese for $.75, one-pound bags of cheddar for $2.25.

Food Preservation:
* I dehydrated more basil, oregano and sage from the indoor garden.
* I put up 2 gallons of beet pickles. It is the last of the cold storage beets.

Fun:
* I took 4 days off between jobs just got a bit of a break. The first say, Trucker suggested we get out of town. We went to a town about a half hour away and ran around a huge antique mall for awhile.  We had a lot of fun looking at everything and finding awesome, weird and quirky old things. I bought two things: a big yellow plastic box with a handle. It looks really funky and fun. I plan to use it to hold either crafting projects downstairs (to hide and to keep the cat from eating the yarn, as she does) or to hold pillowcases. It was $4.50, on sale 20% so $3.60. The other item was a large screen. I'm not sure exactly what it was a part of, a door to something. I am going to use it to organize my jewelry. Trucker and I were just talking about needing something for my earrings last week. He has been looking out for something and this is perfect. It was $16, on sale for 40% off, so $9.60. So much cheaper than buying a new jewelry organizer and so fun.
* We went out on a few coffee dates and got a lot of writing and reading done.
* We had a couple stay-in dates with popcorn and movies from the library.
* Basically, it was the perfect mini vacation before I start the new job.

Frugality:
* Trucker got his first hair cut since the accident. He has been wearing bandanas and hats since because parts of his hair were shorter and one 1.5 inch diameter circle said bald. Finally, the hair in that section has grown out about a centimeter and a half, except directly over the scar. It did not grow in as thick as the rest of his hair, but we were hoping it would at least grow back. He used a coupon for Great Clips for a $6 haircut.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted weird things, as always.
* I mended some socks that had torn at the heel. They are comfortable, warm socks, so I didn't want to waste them.

House and Home:
* I got off of work an hour and a half early one day, so I decided to work on the house for that amount of time. As soon as I got home, I turned on Spotify and started working. I wiped down the front door on both sides, then wiped all the walls in the entrance-way and down the hall towards the kitchen. I made a vinegar-water solution and used it to wipe down all of the door handles and knobs everywhere in the house. I got out the spackle and filled in all the little bump marks on walls throughout the house. I also filled in some weird holes on the ceiling in the bedroom we are working on. I'm assuming some of them were from hanging posters, not sure of the others. The previous owners had patched some parts of the ceiling in the living room, but had done a rough job. I sanded down the rough spots and spackled in any low spots. I had some melamine foam that I bought a long time ago (generic version of Magic Eraser), but hadn't tried yet. I started scrubbing the kitchen-frig handles, frig front, front of stove, floor around the stove (when we moved in there was some kind of sticky thing that I hadn't been able to get up no matter what cleaners I used or how hard I scrubbed). Melamine is pretty much the best thing ever. With barely any effort, it took off everything. Then I opened up the front of the frig and vacuumed out the coils. I wiped off the coils and the vent cover. Since I was still super excited about the melamine, I tackled the bathtub. Again, this stuff is the bomb. I ended up calling my mother to tell her about its wonders and we ordered 60 on amazon ($6.49 with free shipping).
* We worked together on my stepdaughter's room. We had previously used it as a craft room/storage room. We got everything cleared out. I organized all of my craft items into boxes and threw away some stuff that was just clutter.
* We donated two boxes worth of old clothes/random household items to the thrift store. Their warehouse had burned down this week, so they were going to be low on items. These items were not fashionable enough to sell on consignment, but are in good condition and I'm sure someone will buy them.
* We gathered up some items that didn't sell at the booth that we didn't want to keep. We dropped them off at a cancer charity shop that operates on a consignment basis. If your items sell within 4 weeks, you split the proceeds 50-50. If it doesn't sell by then, it becomes property of the shop (they mark it down 50% to move it). Since we would otherwise have donated the items anyway, it was nice to have the chance to earn a little something, and even if it does earn us anything/much, we will be helping the Columbus Cancer Clinic.
* It was warm enough a couple of days to turn off the furnace and open the windows. Granted, it got a little chilly, but we loved the fresh air.

Work:
* I worked 3 days at the restaurant. I worked longer shifts so I got a decent number of hours in. I took 4 days off in between jobs to recoup and get ready for the new beginning.

Future:
* I feel really good about the decision I have made about the job. We will finally make a salary that we can be stable on, and within a year will get health insurance (in case the ACA gets repealed). While part of me wishes I had done this years ago (thinking of how close to retirement I'd have been if I just bit the bullet and went here right out of school), I think the timing is right. I would have missed a lot of exciting things and I'm glad I spent my 20s being a vivacious wild wanderer. I'm glad I got to meet Trucker. I'm glad I got to move around. I'm glad I got a chance to try my hand at all sorts of fun jobs: banking, accounting, baking, farming, and package throwing. Now we have settled. We know where we want to grow old, we are stable, we have my stepdaughter in our lives (who is basically just the coolest human ever), we have dreams for a few acres in the country with a fishing pond and maybe a couple head of cattle. If I'd gone into this job when I was young, I would have wondered what I could have been or could have done. I also would probably have been dumb with the money. Now, I know why I'm going and I know where I'm using it to get me.

Health:
* Trucker went to the doctor about some dizziness he was experiencing and the doctor said it was benign proximal vertigo. Basically, nothing dangerous, he just has to avoid doing the head movements that cause dizziness and be careful about falling. It cost us our copay to go, but I would rather be out $30 than not catch something until it was too late. This past year has been hard, but a probably healthy result is that it has made me realize that we are getting older. We need to be more mindful of risks and start taking care of things before they become issues.
* One day while Trucker worked, I basically relaxed around the house with Ray. It was a perfect evening.
How was your week?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Week...Beyond Money 12/19 - 1/1

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.

Cooking/Groceries:
* 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.

Fun:
* 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.

Nature:
* 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.

Frugality:
* 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.

Work:
* 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.

Community:
* 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?
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