Wednesday, March 7, 2018

This Week...Beyond Money 2/5 - 3/4

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 made BBQ pork mac n cheese one night when I got home from work. It was enough for lunch the next day also.
* I made pork pad thai one day using 1 1/2 small pork chops, diced. It was enough for 4 meals. I cooked up the rest of the chops in the package and diced. I froze those and put on our prepped meats shelf. That is such a lifesaver when we are busy. Any meal is 15 minutes from ready when the meat is ready to go.
* Trucker brought me breakfast in bed one day. He made French toast and eggs and brought up hot tea with honey.
* I made cajun salmon with grits for dinner one night. I sauteed some onions and garlic with the salmon, then made a sauce from the pan drippings. The salmon had been purchased on manager's special, $2 fed us both. The grits were pre-seasoned from a box that I got for $.10 at the salvage grocer. I used cajun seasoning I got at the salvage grocer for $1 (just a bit of the container). It was marvelous.
Another funky Jack Earl sculpture. I love his
sense of humor.
* We made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches using all items from the freezer.
* We hit the clearance section at Kroger. I got some rice crackers, $1(normally $2.79), mixed nuts $3 (usually $5), jerky sticks $.59 (usually $1.75) and cereal for $2/box.
* I made tomato soup from frozen tomatoes from the farm. I serve with quesadillas.
* We cooked a big hunk of beef in the slow cooker and shredded it. We froze enough for 6 meals. The rest I used to make beef and noodles over mashed potatoes. Why do I not do that more?

* Trucker went to a local philosophy/community group meeting. They were giving away books from their library. He got several books from his wishlist for free and got free pizza.
* We checked out a lot of books, movies, audiobooks and CDs from the library. According to this calculator, we "save" $1400/month by using the library. Of course, we would never spend $16,800/year on media, but we still get the value in quality of life.
* Since I was under the weather, we basically stayed in and watched movies and cuddled the entire week. I have a hard time allowing myself to rest, so I am thankful that Trucker promoted the idea and brought me tea all the time.
* We went on a couple cheap coffee dates, using our travel mugs for a discount.
They rearranged the gallery, so I finally got to
see the back of Man Made Man by Jack Earl.
* We had Daisy and Hubby over for a movie night. We checked movies out of the library. Since I had been under the weather earlier that week, I didn't want to make dinner. I ordered gyros from a new greek place near us. I had a coupon, so I was able to get gyros for all of us for $12. I bought some hummus ($3 at Aldi for a HUGE container) and tzatziki ($2 on manager's special), a bag of falafel chips ($2.50 on manager's special; they were amazing), a cucumber ($.69), summer squash ($.99 for a huge bag), bell pepper ($1 for two large peppers), organic baby carrots ($1 for a 2 lb bag). We had lots of sodas and juices in the house that I got for $.05-.30 each. We had tons leftover that we will use for future meals, so I think the total cost was quite reasonable. Daisy brought lemon hummus, pretzels and some homemade sauce for the gyros as well as some raspberry cupcakes. Trucker and I realized that we spent less than we would have at even a cheap dinner out, plus we didn't have to feel guilty about hanging out for a few hours like we would have if we were limiting a server's earning power by occupying a table. I always love hanging out with them.
* One day when we had some stressful stuff going on, I took Trucker out to a lunch date at our favorite restaurant in the city (A German restaurant with an epic buffet). It made me happy to realize during lunch how much we have grown over the years that we were able to take ourselves away from our stress and laugh and talk together, turning a rough day into a great connection. Life isn't always easy, but I love having him at my side.
* We went out with Daisy and her hubby to the local comedy club. Steve got 4 free tickets by signing up for the club's text mailings. We have gotten a dozen or so free tickets over the years.. We spent $15 after tip for our soda/ginger beer. One comic wasn't great, but it was still a wonderful evening with our besties.
* My dad retired after 35 years at the factory. We wanted to take him out for a celebration. We took him, my mom and sister to a local Thai restaurant, where we introduced him to pad thai. The bill was around $100 after tip, but I had been saving for a bit in preparation. We went to the gallery hop. It was marvelous, as always. At one little shop that sells repurposed stuff, a woman ended up giving us a concert. There were the street performers and the mime. We got coffees and hot chocolates at a local coffee house. Afterwards, we went to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. It was a great evening.

* We went for a couple walks at parks nearby.

* I hit a savings milestone. We now have our $1000 emergency fund (We have other savings also, but this is just for emergencies). We have struggled to save for the last few years, and the accident wiped us out and left us with a lot of debt. It is so exciting to hit these milestones and know that we are headed in the right direction.
* I have a pretty decent amount in my retirement account. I set up my account to increase my contribution by 1% every January, so at the beginning of the year it increased to 7%. Including my employer match and the service contribution they deposit, I have 15% of my income put into retirement savings. Between this and a couple older accounts, I have around 30% of my current income in investments. Based on the calculations I have run, within 3-4 years I should be all caught up on my retirement savings, depending on whose recommendations you use. Given that we weren't able to save for 4 years surrounding the recession, that is encouraging.
* I paid extra onto the credit card.
* My car is nearing 200k miles, so I need to replace the timing belt and water pump. My cousin is going to do it at a good price and tune up some other issues. Trucker did some comparison shopping online and found a kit that included everything we would need for $130, regular price was $220. He used his loyalty card so will get $5 back towards a future purchase. Update: My cousin replaced the timing belt, water pump, gave it a tune up, replaced the wheel bearings, fixed a transmission leak and an oil leak. He charged $340, so including the parts we bought, all of that work was done for $470. The exciting thing was that I was able to pay for all of it from my regular checking account and didn't have to dip into savings. I just tightened the belt for a bit.

House and Home:
* Awhile back when we were yard saling, I bought an old cash box, missing the drawer/insert for $2. I put it on my desk. All of my paperwork is now sorted into the box (to-read mags on the bottom, seed catalogs, then paperwork I need to reference on top). Everything is at hand when I need it, but it looks nice instead of cluttered.

* I worked a little overtime.
* I got my attendance bonus.

* I have had a hard time finding doctors through our new insurance website. It took me a week, but I finally found an in-network specialist with decent ratings for some needs. While looking for a primary care physician (still searching), I found that under the PCP listing, half are pediatricians with no way to filter them out, a quarter of the remaining are hospital doctors that never return calls, many have extremely low ratings, and the rest? Well, one was a residency program and the other was a van that drives around one of the low-income areas of the city. My coworker gave me the information for her PCP so I will look into that option this coming week.
* I am still getting over my cold or whatever it is. Update: I ended up being sick for over 3 weeks. Ugh. I am feeling great now though,
* We got our eye appointments in this week. My script went up a tad. I ordered new glasses. I hate the way I look in my old ones (The first three people I asked if I looked attractive in the glasses responded with "You look smart". As in, "Am I pretty?" "You have a great personality."). The new glasses would have been almost $900 before insurance which blows my mind. I ended up paying $120, but they kind of took advantage of me. The guy told me that the glasses came with a one-year warranty, which I took to mean a manufacturer's warranty came with the glasses. He charged me $29 for that. I'll make sure that I read over the bill thoroughly before handing over my card next time. However, the glasses are really nice, Nine West glasses that go quite well with my style. Trucker got a very mild prescription and opted not to buy glasses. I plan on buying some cheap glasses online for backups/sunglasses/more variety and will try to get him to buy a $7 to see how he feels about them. Update: When I picked up the glasses, I asked for the charge to be removed and they did. Took me 2 minutes and saved $29, so my hourly rate was $870.
* I have been studying neuroscience for the last several months. As I have mentioned before, I struggle with anxiety and depression. For many years, it was at a debilitating and dangerous level. I am working hard to rewire my brain and the more I learn about brain plasticity and neurochemistry, the better results I am having. It is a lot of hard work, but it has been quite encouraging. For a good part of my life I have had near-daily panic attacks. I developed a couple techniques that had gotten that down to about one a month. I haven't had one in two months now. I also developed methods of controlling the cyclical ruminative thinking that has been a constant for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with OCD when I was a teen and spent a good amount of time trying to change the way my brain works instead of using the way my brain works as a skill focused towards more useful purposes. I've always loved numbers and some of my OCD compulsions involved math. Now I have learned how to use math as a way of handling cortisol (the stress hormone that tells you you have to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!).  For the last month I have been seeing a psychologist who specializes in CBT to get some more insight as I keep working at this. She said I have done a great job so far, especially with handling the negative side of things and now we are working on building some positives.
* My weight loss has plateaued, but I am still pretty happy. My main goal is not a certain number, but living vibrantly for as long as possible.
* I am quite proud of Trucker. As I have been studying the brain, I have been able to recognize certain things that he started doing in the last year and what changes it has had. He hasn't been going at things the same way I do (The beauty of neural diversity!), but has handled it in a great way. He has been working to learn new things, try things he has always wanted to try, and replacing negative habits with healthier ones. He has quit alcohol and smoking and is much more physically active. He is about to start his third season of league softball which gets him active and socializing. The last point is especially important as working from home can be isolating. The changes have been significant. He is so amazing.

* My mom gave us lots of yummy gifts. When we borrowed their car, she put in some coffee (really, really good coffee) and candy for Valentine's Day. She is so kind. She is without a doubt one of the most empathetic, loving people I know. We joke that she single-handedly keeps their village post office open because she sends Christmas, birthday, anniversary, condolence, and thinking-of-you cards to a few hundred people. For as long as I can remember, she devotes at least one day a week visiting people in her community who need it: the elderly, shut-ins, those in hospital. I used to go with her as a teenager, and am sure that that has had an influence on the person I am becoming. Now, she has two great friends who go with her. They make cards, cookies, gift baskets or floral arrangements so they can bring gifts on their visits (each gift dependent on that person's situation). Every time I think about how many people she has touched, I am proud of who she is.
* I went to an apple orchard's winter warehouse sale. I bought a half bushel of fuji apples for $20 and 30 lbs of horse apples for $7. I shared my surplus with my mom, Daisy, and a couple people at work.

Something wonderful happened to us, but I want that to be its own post, so expect it soon.
How was your week?


  1. Backwoods home magazine online has a recent interesting article on a healthy natural way to treat depression and anxiety. As i also suffer daily panic attacks it seems worth a try. I love your blog!


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