Egg Salad

On Friday I had decided to wake up early on Friday and make egg salad for lunch as I was too tired to be bothered on Thursday night.

No mayonnaise, no problem, I thought. Ill just use the avocados.

Well 6:30 in the morning isn’t the best time to discover that the avocados have gone bad.

No problem, Google to the rescue! I decided.

Turns out I didn’t have the ingredients for those recipes either so here is my emergency egg salad recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 hard boiled eggs, mashed
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sandwich spread
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced (so it doesn’t go the way of the avocados)

Method:

  • In a small bowl , whisk together the juice, oil and spread.
  • Mix into mashed egg
  • Add diced jalapeños
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Final mix

Enjoy!

sandwich.jpg

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Countdown to March

There were just 3 days left to the end of the month and I had $20 still available in discretionary spending. I’ll take you on the rollercoaster ride of this $20.

It isn’t bad. I mean loads can be done for less than $20. It’s not great when I had anticipated having $50 to play with. On the other hand, I had paid for a $40 night out using my budget rather than my fun fund. So really it means this should have been $10.

In that light, $20 is cause for a celebration!

Here’s what I needed that twenty to do:

  • Buy groceries for the start of the week
  • Buy a cup of tea with a friend

First stop groceries. I figured out what I would like to make and checked the flyers. For $14 this was my haul.

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Not bad at all! I’m especially pleased that I was also able to add to the hosting stockpile (soft drink). All the rest are items to be consumed/ included in a recipe by Tuesday.

That leaves me with $6 to cover tea. I think that I’m going to make it and it feels good!

Adding a Jungle Gym

My Bunny has been very quiet lately. She’ll be friendly when we get into her space and come over for a cuddle but none of her toys really interested her.

She’s 7 so instead of panicking and calling her vet I watched her for a bit and noticed that she only moved when excited. Lettuce, getting treats in her maze ball or hay in a roll were the things that got her moving. It turned out that Bunny had entered a state of ennui!

Well a google search  turned up rabbit play areas, cat houses and a host of items I could purchase. The items I could make were often things I didn’t feel comfortable allowing her to play with unsupervised. I’ve purchased toys for her before but she generally ends up playing with the box.

So I had an idea! I went to a vendor I work with and asked if they had any extra boxes that I could have. Three free boxes were immediately handed over. My plan was to make her a castle out of the cardboard.Like this one I found on Pinterest.

Bunny

I was all excited to cut it out and glue things. Really it was going to end up on Pinterest!

Well I got the boxes into the door and put them in her room. Bunny was way too excited at the prospect of new toys for me to force her to wait. Instead, ML arranged them to create different play areas she could explore. So in spite of my grand dreams for her Bunny was in heaven.

Bunny 1

She even posed for another shot.

bunny2

So for $0 and almost no energy I’ve got a very happy Bunny! So far we’ve done 3 configurations in 2 days and she’s still enjoying herself. She’s begun tearing them, as we expected, so she may get to keep them until this weekend. Which is about the same amount of enjoyment she would have received if I had made it Pinterest perfect the first time or even purchased her a special set.

Do you have any recommendations of toys for a pet who gets easily bored, will eat anything in her path (to her detriment) and likes to be mentally stimulated?

 

 

I Like New Me!

When we purchased our home I had a very clear idea of what I wanted.  Since I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to get it I kept looking in my price range and being selective. Lucky for me we purchased my (almost) perfect home.

I’m thinking of this now as friends of ours are purchasing a new home and a few acquaintances are moving up to ‘better’ homes. I remember when we were house shopping feeling poorly because all the good homes were out of our price range and I suspect the person I was then would have been rather jealous of the homes some folks are moving into.

house

There’s been a few surprising upsides of budgeting and blogging and this has been one of them. I was preparing myself for the envy I was going to feel when these folks shared where they would be living, as I know they easily make doubly our household income. Instead I felt joy.

Joy! That was it, I was thrilled that they found a home in a neighbourhood that they love. I’m excited to see how they decorate and I’m looking forward to making desserts for their housewarming party.

It sounds petty that I was prepared for envy but I understood that the envy would probably come from a place like this:

  • Oh the things we could make in that kitchen!
  • It would be lovely to have a bedroom that could fit everything and all my clothes could live in the same spot
  • Formal dining room! Yes please, Honey we’re starting Sunday dinners now.
  • Then finally: wouldn’t it be nice if we could live like this, if only we had more money.

The feeling of excitement caught me off guard so I started to poke at it. Goodness know I can’t just be happy. Here’s what I found:

  • My focus on my budget and all the things I can do while living with my means has made me grateful for my life
  • The KonMarie exercise has left my home feeling spacious so I’ve stopped lusting for larger cabinets
  • I’ve slowly been adjusting my dream home requirements to suit my current home. For example I’ve always wanted a bar. One that I could stand behind and display funky glassware on. As this wasn’t feasible in my space I created a really simple one that allows us to display our liquors and some of our glassware.It’s not the dream one but it’s been so functional that it no longer feels like a poor alternative and I’m happy with it.
  • Though there are things I’d love to  have if we move to another home I’d also be perfectly happy if this were our forever home

Have you found any surprising upsides from budgeting?

Photo courtesy of Simon Howden via freedigitalphotos.net

Frugal vs. Cheap

Partially inspired by Me(ghan)’s post.

Am I cheap or frugal? The answer to this question is an ongoing struggle for me as I tend to see myself through other people’s eyes. Of course everyone has their own opinion on how they spend their money but sometimes people have opinions on how others should spend theirs.

I’ve gotten a lot better at understanding what my definition of frugality is. When faced with a decision at Christmas I realized that frugality is spending money I have on things that will make me happy while opting to not spend on things that won’t positively impact my life. For instance ML and I recently attended an event at our local museum. It was to celebrate with his friends and since we have the funds to do this in our fun fund we purchased the tickets.  If we didn’t have money in our fun fund or room in the budget we wouldn’t have purchased the tickets. In my mind this is frugal.

I do have to guard myself against cheapness. When I purchased the Deadpool tickets I’ll admit to a pang as I spent $8 more for our tickets than if I had gotten regular tickets. That extra money was available in the budget and helped us have a better day as we weren’t rushing to get to the theatre an hour early to line up to ensure a decent seat. I’m sharing this because I’m insanely proud that I didn’t fall into budget fear with this or keep mentioning to ML that these tickets were more expensive. Knowing that we’d probably want to have something from the concessions I checked the budget and shared with ML that we had $10 available.

Cheap for me is preventing ML from getting popcorn because I don’t want to spend the money, in spite of the fact that it’s available, or not paying the extra $8 for tickets ensuring that we’ll be standing in line for an hour. If we didn’t have the $18 available to us then those wouldn’t have been cheap decisions. Since I did have the money and it was earmarked for date night I think these were frugal choices as in both instances they enhanced our enjoyment of the night.

One technique that has helped me walk the line between frugality and cheapness is putting leftover variable budget money into a fun fund. The money doesn’t go to one of my savings lines or debt payment instead it gets put into a savings line designated for spending. Knowing that this money is going to be spent on something a bit frivolous anyway helps me check my motives when I’m saving money.  The added benefit is that it’s a way to treat ourselves to great things without sacrificing our payments.

I think cheap vs. frugal depends a lot on how you rationalize your spending and saving.  The summary I like best is that frugal people care about value while cheap people care about cost.

What’s your definition of cheap vs. frugal?

 

 

 

February Weeks 1- 3

 

I came out of week 1 with a huge amount  left in my budget. So in week 2, rather than dip into my Fun Fund, I used my monthly budget for us to see Deadpool as well as attend a ballroom dancing event (where friends of ours got engaged). I also used the extra wiggle room to spend a bit more on groceries.

Even with all these extras week 3 began with a surplus of $5. Not bad at all! I was tracking to continue underspending until today. An opportunity came up to purchase tickets for Mama Mia in April at a deeply discounted rate. This was the first musical ML and I saw together on stage so we really want to attend. That’s the fee that sent me into the red. If I had not purchased those tickets I would still have increased my surplus budget while spending on things I hadn’t anticipated.

My week 4 begins today and because I had anticipated having a surplus I had invited a friend out for breakfast on this morning and another for tea on Tuesday. To keep within my monthly budget I have to decrease the amount I had planned to spend on groceries. Of course, my other option is to use my fun fund to pay for the entertainment opportunities that arose, which is exactly why I had created the fund!

At this point I’m going to continue spending frugally and see where my budget ends up at the end of the month. If there are extra funds I’ll have shown myself that I can have some pretty great experiences on a tight budget, if not I’ll use the fun fund to cover the applicable overages.

At this rate, even if I dip into my fun fund it will only be covering the cost of one of the extra activities. For me that’s a win!

How’s your budget doing in February?

Easy Guacamole

So our meals at the beginning of the week had a definite Mexican flavour to them! We made some appetizers in lieu of lunch one day and decided to use the avocados ($1.25/4) and jalapenos ($2.99/6) I had purchased.

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados, pitted ($.63/2)
  • 1 capful olive oil
  • 1 capful lemon juice
  • ~1tsp of minced jalapeno ($.25)
  • ~1 tsp minced onion
  • a dash of salt

Method

  • Mash the avocados with a fork.
  • Mix in the liquids
  • Stir in the jalapeno and onion
  • Drizzle the salt and provide a final stir

Financial Breakdown:

The ingredients at the store cost $3.25 but the guacamole itself was $0.88

This is a super basic recipe and if you’ve got cilantro, garlic and tomatoes I suspect that it would be even better. Considering what I had on hand I was thrilled to make a tasty guacamole that satisfied my craving.In fact we ate it before I could snap a photo.

Do you have a favourite guacamole recipe?

 

My Anti-Bucket List

This post has been inspired by the lovely Georgie Moon who shared some fantastic prompts.

Bucket

I really liked the idea of an anti-bucket list because when I consider a bucket list it’s a things to do. I want to swim with dolphins, go in a hot air balloon, and visit England. Great goals that are meaningful to me but I noticed something about them. All of these things involve me saving my pennies and working hard to be able to check them off. They also function as bragging points and things I can use to make others feel a bit envious of my fabulous life.

When I saw the anti-bucket list I instinctively went with emotions. So here are a list of things I never want to do:

  • Wonder if my life has been useful to anyone else
  • Feel like I’m drowning in debt, again
  • Feel like my dreams are so far out of reach
  • Live in fear
  • Stop doing things that scare me – I seek every opportunity to pet snakes because they scare the bejeezus out of me
  • Stop dancing when the mood strikes me
  • Stop belting out songs when I know, or think I know, the lyrics
  • Live my life according to what other people think I should be doing (this is on the gotta stop list)
  • Have ‘friends’ who are negative and don’t brighten my world because I don’t want to offend them
  • Stop laughing at myself and silly situations
  • Lose the ability to see the wonder of a sunset, the way snow settles on trees or the waves crash upon the shore
  • Not feel like I can have people over to my home
  • Live in filthy surroundings (I’m thinking of piles of stuff everywhere)

It didn’t take long to create this list but it showed me a bit more about myself. Based on this list I’m someone who wants to live in the moment, feel comfortable in her own skin and enjoy the little things. Not bad things to put on my bucket list!

Image from here.

The Prosperity Game

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This morning Karen commented on yesterday’s post and shared a link to the Prosperity Game. Karen, thank you so much for suggesting this! You turned a humdrum morning where I was craving crawling back to bed into a great start to the day.

I’m ashamed to say that though I thought it interesting I wondered if it would really do any good. What’s the point of pretending to have $1,000 to realize that this isn’t my reality? It sounded a bit depressing actually. But of course there’s a but.

In spite of these initial doubts I tried the activity and a funny thing happened. As I was planning my pretend massage I started to loosen up, I the pretended that I was in an exotic spa with Bunny therapy (rather than feeding the rabbit) I relaxed into petting her. Within 5 minutes my tiredness turned into excitement and relaxation.

With such a good start I pulled out a notepad and wrote today’s date and $1,000. Here’s what I pretended and paid for this morning:

  • $250 a one night stay for us in a super fancy hotel that we visited years ago
  • $250 a couples massage in a soothing spa followed by a manicure and facial for me
  • $40 cozy, healthy breakfast with tea (I was in my wonderfully soft housecoat)
  • $100 sushi dinner with sake at a sleek, modern restaurant

I suspect it worked because I was using my imagination the way I used to play pretend as a child. While I knew that it was fantasy it also felt quite real. The other benefit I’ve found on day 1 is that I’m changing my world to suit my fantasy.

I’m going to have a specially prepared  rice dish (chinese leftovers) at a quiet spot (my desk) in a few minutes. The fantasy works better if I clear my desk of the papers and administrative clutter much the same way that I used to dump all my toys out of a box so that I could use it as a table when I was having a tea party. So the real world benefits are both relaxation and tidiness.

I was chatting with ML about this and I do wonder if I’ll still be floating on day 20 when I would have money in my pretend account to give us our dream kitchen. We also got into a conversation about play. I remember playing as a kid, the hours of entertainment a few toys provided, but I can’t seem to remember how to do it. This adult version seems like a great way to incorporate more play and imagination in my life.

How do you incorporate imagination into your adult life?

Photo courtesy of stockimages via freedigitalphoto.net

Justification vs. Rationalization

I was reading Gail Vaz-oxlade’s book and came across a section with this title. It was fantastic because it was something I needed to hear.

Too often I justify my expenses. Even if I leftover budget money when I have an unanticipated fun expense I tell myself, ” We deserve this! We cook our meals, use coupons, and make frugal decisions.” I even go so far as counting the number of uses we get from an item.

Basically I justify the expense. Gail recommends losing the justification and moving to rationalization. This involves asking myself two questions:

  1. Do I have the money?
  2. Do I have another purpose for the money?

I pay myself first, this means that I put set amounts into savings as well as towards my debt and  bills. Therefore any money leftover should be spending money. However, I can easily get a bit disappointed with myself if I spend my full budget.

I’ll give you the example of Valentine’s Day. We had spent a lot less on groceries at the beginning of the month so I had some space in the budget. I used that money to pay for our date.

Rationally this is fine. That money was earmarked for lifestyle spending. Yet I still justified it- we don’t go to the movies often and we should date more often. I do this because I’ve got a little voice that tells me that I should be throwing everything I have at my debt and I’ll never have enough savings to achieve all my dreams.Cruel voice!

I have spoken before about this dilemma but having the questions laid out like this has helped me. I tend to use question 2 to make myself feel guilty and I’m going to work on not doing that anymore. If the money is in my variable spending budget it is only earmarked for lifestyle spending. 

I need to work on creating financial balance in my life. I’m responsibly managing my finances and part of that means enjoying the things my money can purchase. My current plan allows me this balance I just need to remind myself to live it.

I will still be tracking some of my purchases. While this habit stemmed from justifying these buys I like that it has helped me really think about what I’m bringing into my home. Just because I have the money to purchase a gorgeous tea set doesn’t mean I should as chances are it will simply end up in a cupboard languishing until a suitably special occasion occurs.

Do you engage in justifying your spending?