Frugal Month Update: June 2018

I haven’t spent rashly but somehow we’re halfway through the month and I only have $33 left in the budget. As I’ve paid all bills and contributed to savings this isn’t as awful as it sounds. Here’s what’s coming up:

  1. Beach Date with my sister
  2. Bubble tea date with former bandmate
  3. Coffee visit with girl friends
  4. My favourite kid is coming for a sleepover

I’m not sure how $33 is going to stretch that far and I don’t want to cancel any of these events.

I’m taking snacks to share for the beach date but if we end up stopping for dinner there is no way I can opt out of the that activity.  The 2 visits with friends can be kept, I believe, to a total of $15.

The kid may be my biggest challenge. He eats like crazy so having him over is going to require a grocery run. I’m going to have to fill up on fruits, vegetables, cheese, deli meat and crackers.

How’s your monthly budget coming?

 

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Day at the Spa (DIY Edition)

I was on vacation this week and I desperately wanted a spa day. However, I don’t want to spend $250 on a spa package. Instead I took Thursday and did all my prep so that I could treat myself at home.

My first step was to do all my prep so that I could move easily from moment to moment without feeling like I was losing the relaxed feeling.

I used 2 bananas, 1 tbsp. of honey, 1 tbsp. of coconut oil for the hair mask and 1 tbsp. each of coconut oil, coffee grounds and brown sugar for the exfoliation kit.

The 30 minutes to let the hair mask sit was used to complete a mindfulness meditation I found on YouTube.

Once I washed the mask out and exfoliated in the shower with a scrub that I had, I moved to my face. I applied a portion of the coffee scrub to my face and hands then moved to give myself a steam. I’m lucky as I received this as a gift in my teens. I then shaped my brows and used a mask.

Once my face was done I took a spa break to enjoy lunch. When I had gone to the sp alast time, my package had included lunch which I recreated.

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The veggies were sautéed with steak seasoning and made into a veggie pita with avocado and tomato.

Next up was my manicure and pedicure.

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One of the things I love about the spa is the music that I never listen to any other time but really does the trick! YouTube once again came to the rescue with one of the long calming playlists.

I was a little concerned that my DIY version may not be as restful or I’d get distracted. I was pleased that I focused and was able to make clean up a seamless part of the process. Having soft light throughout definitely helped the experience!

What’s your favourite way to pamper yourself at home?

Frugal Month July 2018

This month is supposed to be a frugal spend month. While usually this means that I’m going to spend less than I budgeted, based on my recent spending, I’ll be aiming to stick to my budget.

I’m just one week in  and I already know this month is going to be super tough! I’ve already spent the gas money and most of the grocery money. Here’s what I’ve got left:

  • Grocery – $35
  • Bunny – $14 (needs hay and possibly kibble)
  • Eating out – $36 (monthly dinner date; have been trying to meet a friend for sushi)
  • Entertainment  – $45 (parking at concert; tickets for upcoming wine tour)
  • Misc – $30

My hope is to keep to these figures and I’ll use savings to fund our anniversary party that’s going to be hosted the first weekend in August.

Monthly Debrief: June 20118

 

TRACKING

  •  # Buy nothing days :13
  • # times ate out/purchased take out: 6
  • # activities with loved ones: 10 (I’ve gotten bad at tracking this)
  • $ saved at Costco: ?
  • % over or under budget:7% over budget (best  since February!)

CELEBRATE:

  • This  is the closest I’ve come to sticking to my budget in the year
  • I haven’t felt pressed or as though I’ve been missing out

DIP INTO SAVINGS/CREDIT

  • Our 10th anniversary  party is getting expensive! I’ve been able to use savings so far to cover the costs
  • Final kitchen purchases of a curtain rod and bumpers to protect cabinet corners

KEEP IN MIND

June is usually my crazy month of overspending. I’m pleased that the overspending isn’t crazy. The places I went overboard were groceries and entertainment. The entertainment was for Father’s Day.

OVERALL

This month was fantastic! I’m aiming to make July a frugal month, while ML & I make some healthier choices. Our goal is to drop a couple pounds each this month and tone up.

Dreams Change

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks emotionally. I came off a tough week at work to enter some rough family situations. This was all on top of the construction nightmare we’ve been experiencing with Home Depot. Needless to say, I’m exhausted.

It’s a good time to re-visit my previous posts regarding my values. It’s always a wonderful way to find my center. In late 2016, I decided to embrace my creativity by pursuing a longtime dream of performing in a band. Due to my accident, I never did get to perform in front of a live audience. I learned that I really don’t want to! I’ve been paying the fee for a while but when I decided to take a break for the summer I realized it was no longer bringing me joy.

Image result for singing

The microphone which used to represent love and escape now feels like a trap. Not exactly a great way to add value to my life! Though I’m leaving the formal program I know that my lessons are sticking with me and I hope to continue singing and playing with apps while strengthening my voice.

Are there long-held dreams that you’ve followed but discovered didn’t quite suit you?

Menu Planning for Friends

We’re leaving to go the Costco soon with a friend. The plan is that we’ll get food for the 6 of us to have over the course of our long weekend. There’s a slight problem: the menu was never discussed. The idea of going into Costco without a list is absolutely awful. That’s exactly how we end up spending $500 in less than 30 minutes!

Based on experience I know that we like cooking simple meals and somehow allows end up in the overpriced mini-mart outside the town collecting something. As I’m the one spending the initial sum I’m hoping that this plan works for all:

Breakfasts: bacon, eggs, toast, strawberry scones

Lunches: sandwiches, leftover dinner; we’re visiting a chip shop on one of the days

Dinner: steak and fries, hamburger, hot dogs

Snacks: chips, cherry clafouti, s’mores, s’mores pie

With this breakdown, I’m hopeful that we won’t over purchase or end up with waste.

UPDATE: We did well! We did end up needing more eggs and opted to get coffee refills for the hosts. In addition, to what’s listed above we picked up:

  • a salad
  • 4 bags of chips (only 2 needed)
  • fruit tray
  • Tray of peaches
  • Juice boxes (next time buy a bottle)
  • Milk
  • mini tomatoes

Next year, we’ll pick up a veggie tray instead of the salad.

Having a drink on a budget

We’re off to a cottage with friends this weekend. We generally all pitch in for food and then bring our own alcohol. For the last few years I haven’t indulged on the weekend with the exception of wine with dinner. This year, I think I want to join in a bit. However, I don’t want to overdo the enjoyment or spend loads on liquor.

The best way for me to enjoy and stick to my budget is to make my own mixes. My plan is to enjoy a pitcher of mojitos and/or a pitcher of sangria for the weekend.

Mojito

  • Mint Syrup (using mint from the garden)
  • 1.5 cups of lime juice
  • 1.5 cup white rum
  • 1 liter of club soda

I haven’t done this one before but I’m thinking I can mix the first 3 ingredients, pour a shot of that into a glass and top with the club soda. Alternatively, I can make 1 glass at a time using 1:1:1.5 (syrup, lime juice, rum) and then topped with the soda.

Wine Spritzer

  • 1 container of strawberries diced
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 1 liter of lemon-lime pop or sparkling water

This one will have to be made fresh at the cottage as I don’t want it to go flat.

What’s in the Pantry

Following my wake up call with grocery prices I decided to re-delve into living on rations. I can’t believe I haven’t touched my research or even attempted a no-spend week since January. This week is most definitely not going to be my no spend week.

I’m having a friend over for dinner tomorrow, seeing another for Sushi, and then going on a mini vacation with a few friends over the weekend. To attempt a no-spend week would be ludicrous. What I can do is ensure that I make frugal choices this week and prep to begin July with as little spending as possible.

To get my mind engaged, I went through some of my previous research and really took a look at my pantry and recipe books. Recognizing that grocery spending can be one of the areas I feel a bit helpless I decided to focus on it. I went through the pantry with an eye to what I really need to own in order to make full meals:

  • Condiments
    • Olive oil – used for everything from salads to hair masks
    • Soy sauce – I love Chinese food and enjoy making my own
    • Vinegar (White & Apple cider vinegar) – used for cooking, cleaning and skin car
    • Mustard – I really enjoy it!
    • Ketchup – not necessary but it’s always nice to have and I’ve since learnt to make barbecue sauce
    • An array of spices
  • Baking
    • Flour
    • Baking powder
    • Baking soda
    • cocoa
    • chocolate chips
    • vanilla essence
    • Milk – powdered, condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut milk
    • Shortening – also for lotion
    • Honey
  • Pantry
    • Rice
    • Pasta
    • Potatoes
    • rolled oats
    • popcorn
    • yeast
  • Misc
    • Olives
    • lemon juice
    • lime juice
    • fresh fruit and vegetables
    • tinned vegetables and beans
    • Meat
    • Cheese
    • Tea and coffee

I’m hoping that by recording this list I’ll use it as a guide when I’m leaning towards going over budget. I also wanted to give my chance to look at how I can create meals without resorting to convenience packages.

Grocery Budget

Every month I’ve gone over my grocery budget. Considering the kitchen situation and my own desire to stay out of it I’m not surprised by that. However, when I went shopping this week I was concerned. I spent nearly $50 on:

  • 3 pints of strawberries
  • 2 pints of blueberries
  • 1 large bag cherries
  • jar of yeast
  • White vinegar
  • Half and Half
  • Whipping Cream
  • 3 graham pie crusts
  • Mixed pack of hors d’oeuvres

That’s not a lot of food. In fact, it’s not even a meal.

It was my reminder that the cost of living has gone up but I haven’t moved my grocery line up. As I had all the food I needed in the house this wasn’t a bad grocery run. I used some steak we got on sale to make Teriyaki, though I didn’t use a slow cooker. I make the sauce with some substitutions as I didn’t have sesame oil and made use of the frozen vegetables we had on hand.

The process of doing groceries, working through my budget and reading the blog has me determined to reclaim my kitchen.

bottles of blueberry iced tea, blueberry pancakes, s'mores pie and Rocky Road Ice Cream

I was too eager to wait to take photos of everything!

I made blueberry simple syrup to make 8 cups of iced tea. The leftover berries were then used to make blueberry pancakes for the week. The whipping cream went into the home made rocky road ice cream and the Half & Half in the s’mores pie. I got my groove back with making 2 loaves of bread and I’m keeping the strawberries to make more shortcake scones with the Half and Half.

I’m going to be snacking on the cherries but I need to figure out what to make with them. The other container of blueberries and half the strawberries will be used to make a sangria for the weekend.

Taking the time to do this batch of baking and cooking has revitalized me. I’m feeling better not only about getting back  my kitchen but also getting my budget under control.

How to Spend Less

I had wonderful ideas this month! I wrote every expense as it came out, I tracked my budget and I followed my list. However, things happened and I spent more than anticipated. Do I sound like a broken record? I feel like one!

I took a look at this blog and my life in general to plot out where I was going astray.  The biggest problem I could find is that I have abandoned my kitchen. The renovations and drama surrounding it are ongoing. Working with Home Depot, once we began having problems,  was an awful experience.

Not being in the kitchen meant that I wasn’t cooking from scratch or making any of my homemade products. I used to do quite a bit of homemade things and luckily I tracked them on this blog. My plan is to get back into it. I made a fantastic hair mask using 3 ingredients.

picture of hair mask serum in a bowl with bottles of olive oil & lemon juice
Equal parts lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and water (2 tbsp.)

 

This quick fix gave me a the opportunity to indulge in a scalp massage and take 20 minutes to relax. It’s meant for itchy scalp and it definitely did the job!