Friday, March 31, 2017

Saving Money and Being Frugal - Week in Review - March 31, 2017

Here's what the week from March 25th-31st looked like:

Progress on Financial Goals I Set for this Week

Last week, I set seven goals to work on. This is how I did:

- Bring taxes to the accountant. DONE!!! (Finally.) I am so happy to have this done! Brought all the paperwork to the accountant on Tuesday (March 28th) and now it's just a matter of waiting to see how everything pans out.

- Go to a Fashion Consultant at the Thrift Store for New-to-Us Clothes. On Wednesday, March 29th, my daughter and I took advantage of a free service where a fashion consultant helps clients at a thrift store that's about 40 minutes from us find clothes that match their style.

Sophia and I filled out a comprehensive profile form ahead of time and provided the link to our Pinterest boards that shows examples of the types of clothes we would like to wear. Before the session the consultant pulled clothing in our sizes and what she thought would be our style.

When we got there, the excitement about what we would like our "fashion vision" to be clashed with the reality of the limits of previously-worn clothing. This particular store didn't have a lot of contemporary, brand-name clothing. So, what we envisioned and hoped for, just wasn't a reality.

We left disappointed with the experience. Tried a Goodwill store that was closer to us with some limited success (for me, but not Sophia). Ended up taking Sophia to Maurice's so she could get some Spring clothes that she needed.

To get the looks that we are after, we almost would need to hire a seamstress who could custom design and create the clothes. Alternatively, we could do an extensive amount of online shopping to get each of the pieces we would want. Neither of those options is financially practical.

For me, too, the reality of an aging body that no longer looks like it did when I was in my 20s (even my 30s and early 40s) put a damper on the experience. Degenerative disk disease and hypothyroidism have taken their toll.

- Go to Fare for All. This was a great month for the items that were in the packs. All the packs that were available this month were filled with food that we can use and enjoy.

The produce pack had a nice variety of fruits and vegetables. It was $10.

The meat pack had four types of meats: ground turkey, beef hot dogs, pork roast, and whole chicken. This was $15.

The mega meat pack had eight meat products: bacon, two pork roasts, chicken nuggets, chicken breast fillets, Trader Joe's shepherd pie, breaded fish fillets, and ground beef. This was $25.

There also was a special brunch pack this month which included a bag of broccoli, two bags of shredded cheese, two packs of bacon, sausage, ham, turkey sausage links, and a bag of hash browns. This was $20.

My parents introduced me to Fare for All when it first started. I was in elementary school at the time. Back then, the food for the monthly packs was what wasn't sold from stores and - sometimes - on the verge of spoiling. In some cases, it was past its prime and my parents had to toss it out.

I remember them being so frustrated after paying hard-earned money for it; and I felt so bad for them that they were getting food that we all couldn't even eat.

Yet, they needed to make their food budget stretch on one income. They did what they could and tried to look for ways to make each dollar my Dad earned provide for the family.

Fare for All is significantly better now. All the food is fresh - nothing is spoiling; or it has been frozen so it can be used at a later date.

I am so thankful for Fare for All and the food we are able to get each time we purchase from them.

- Help Olivia finish setting up her binder to hold her statement for different accounts (e.g., savings, checking, CD, savings bond, emergency fund, retirement, college, life insurance).

Olivia finished setting up her binder on Friday, March 31st. She likes that everything is in one place now for all the statements.

- Finish setting up my binder to hold statements for different financial accounts and policies.

Completed this goal on Friday, March 31st! (What a relief to finally have this done.)

I gathered all the paperwork and statements that I had been collecting for the financial binder. Was given a nice binder back in 2006 when I initially met with a financial planner. So, I had some statements from that time period in it.

Went through all the loose papers and kept only the most current statement for each account, policy, and investment.

The rest (an entire bag!) I will burn since the papers have confidential information.

The binder is done in the sense that I have in it what is available/accessible at this point in time.

When I was going through the papers, I found an article that I had clipped: 12 Months to a More Organized Financial Life from Trivent magazine. I'll be following the recommendations now for the balance of the year to get everything in even better shape.

- Make a deposit into two Roth IRAs.

I decided to wait on this goal until I get the taxes back. In that way, if I can put more into the IRAs (because of not owing as much in taxes), I will do that.

- Help Sophia and Oliva set up their first mutual funds/Roth IRAs after meeting with a financial advisor.

We will be doing this when I pick up the taxes from the accountant (who shares an office with the financial advisor). Hopefully this week we can get the girls' accounts set up.

Progress on Blog Goals I Set for this Week

Last week,  I set the following blogging goals to work on  as they relate to saving money and home organization:

- Continue to work streamlining and organizing our home by doing Week 13 of the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home. Didn't get started on this goal. Other priorities took my time. Am planning to tackle this project over the weekend.

- Write an update about 40 Bags in 40 Days about Days 16th-22nd and 23rd-29th. Did this post on Wednesday, March 29th about the progress made from the 16th-29th.

- Make homemade Peppermint Bath Melts. Made and tried the peppermint bath melts. Wrote a post that includes the directions to make them.

- Make natural Vapor Rub using essential oils. Formatted the post and have all the supplies; but didn't have a chance to make the recipes and see if they were effective. Plan to finish this next week.

- Make an upcycled bag holder for plastic bags. This was an easy and a simple solution for storing plastic bags that I saw on Pinterest.

Normally I put the plastic bags that I use for the small garbage can in the linen closet on the shelf with the towels. However, this is much easier to find the bags and pull one out to use. I don't know why I didn't do this earlier. Wrote the post on Wednesday, March 29th.

Smart and Not-so-Smart Purchases

Smart Purchases

- Clothing and jewelry at two thrift shops: necklace, sweater, and shirt for Sophia; Eddie Bauer and REI shorts, J. Jill sweater, black cardigan, black jersey zip-up jacket, and pajama pants (2). No piece was over $8.99. Most were in the $2.99-$3.99 range.

- Food from Fare for All: $70 bought a counter-full of food. This will last at least a month.

- As a follow-up to last week, Danny (our smallest dog who is about 20 pounds) had eaten a pork chop bone.

After bringing him to the emergency vet and seeing on the x-rays that the bone had been divided into four pieces, we had two choices: a $1.5K surgery to remove the largest of the pieces or to use a special food that is fed multiple times per day and to watch Danny very closely for signs that the bone was blocking the intestines.

We chose the latter after talking with two vets and asking what they would do if Danny were their dog. After three days, he was out of the "danger time" and we were relieved. Not only was Danny okay, but we saved $1.5K!

- Generic food and household products when they are available. The cents and dollars add up!

Not-so-Smart Purchases

- Treats to eat at the movie theater. Ethically, I'm sure it's not right to bring in your own beverages and popcorn. However, it sure would save a lot of money.

I do remember when I was a child, my Mom would pop popcorn at home and package it in brown bags. We would eat that at the movie theater when we would go (always at a bargain theater and during the day when it was the cheapest).

Frugal Meals

- Ate leftovers was a good way to stretch the food budget and use up what was on hand.

- Sunday night's meal was from Blue Apron that we were gifted from another blogger. This meal was worth about $35 had we paid for it!

Spiced pork with black beans and red onions.

What was on the table for dinner last week:

Saturday - Leftover Za'atar Spice Chicken with Bulgur (from Blue Apron), leftover BBQ beef and pork, nachos, and/or freshly-made guacamole with chips. It was good to use up what we had from meals during the past week so we can start fresh on Sunday.

Sunday  - Top Chef Spiced Pork with Sweet Onions and Black Beans from Blue Apron.

Monday - Pizza.

Tuesday - Taco Pockets.

Wednesday - Teriyaki Chicken Casserole. Read the recipe wrong and put in triple the amount of rice needed. Needless to say, it was an economical way to stretch the meal.

Thursday - Leftovers.
Friday - Chicken meatballs (though they tasted more like chicken nuggets) from Fare For All and baked potatoes with toppings (sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon bits). Also had a Spicy Southwestern Salad I made earlier in the week.

My financial goals for this week:

- Review the 12 Months to a More Organized Financial Life from Trivent magazine. Do the recommendations for January-April.

- If the taxes are completed by the accountant and I can pick them up, do the following two things:
            - Make a deposit into two Roth IRAs.

            - Help Sophia and Oliva set up their first mutual funds/Roth IRAs after meeting with a financial advisor.

- Using the Letting Go of Debt (a daily meditation book) for ideas, I selected the following goals from the book:
            - Pick one discipline to practice every day for a week (whether it be to make my bed, walk every day, or record my expenses). (See February 24th for ideas.)
            - Write down my top three priorities and keep them in mind when making any decision.
            - Brainstorm a list of simple treats that rely only on me - a hot bath, a walk in the park, or an exercise routine. Treats that will not only reward me but also will improve me.
            - Look for small ways to save $500 or $1000 a year. (See January 21st for ideas.)
            - Clean my wallet.
            - Create a personalized checklist to track my behavior regarding money. (See February 10th for ideas.)
            - Remember one joy or dream I had in my youth and find a way to reintroduce it into my life.

- Read Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey.

Blog as it relates to saving money and home organization:

- Continue to work streamlining and organizing our home by doing Weeks 13 and 14 of the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home.

- Write an update about 40 Bags in 40 Days about Days 30-36.

- Make natural Vapor Rub using essential oils.

- Make Citrus Dusting Spray.

- Write information that I want to remember from The Retirement Catch-Up Guide - 54 Real-Life Lessons to Boost Your Future Resources Now. (I read this book last week...just need to type what I want to remember.)

- Write information that I want to remember from Financial Peace Revisited.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*


Rhonda said...

I think you are am amazing planner.
Your Fare for All purchases are increduble- quality healthy and low cost- I've never heard of so I'm pretty sure it's not reached Oklahoma.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting the taxes done! Your binder looks awesome. I keep meaning to make one of my own. I feel like if something happened to me, my family wouldn't have a clue about how to sort of out my finances.