Sunday, April 26, 2015

If you Don't Look too Close...

... this pedicure probably looks OK.  Up close, you can tell I did it myself.  Being on the mend, I'm taking it easy so there was time to polish my toes.  My sister gave me a pedicure gift certificate for my birthday which I will use before Memorial Day because we have a family reunion to go to.   I booked a cheap hotel room on-line that will give me reward points on my charge card as well as "WOW" points through my employee discount program.  The Days Inn is cheap but I couldn't see paying for the Hilton when it's just me and my sister sleeping there for two nights.

As for the mani/pedi thing...The cost of a pedicure plus tip (just a "regular" one, not a gel) is $28 where we are.  That is about 1/4 of my weekly grocery budget.  I know ladies who get one every week or so but that seems like a waste to me.  Your toes are so far away from everyone's eyes that I don't think they need to look perfect.  For someone like me who swims, it just wears off anyway.  I can keep my own looking OK if I buff it down every other night and put a coat of polish over it.

The realization that nothing I do is going to be luxe is OK with me.  I was reading an article on "the middle class" and how economically most folks who consider themselves thus don't actually have the income or equity to meet that by the usual standards.  Yet people want to be seen as such.  The piece showed the "average" house and car.  They were way nicer than the home we have or the cars we drive.  The thing is, with our income, home equity, investments and savings, we are truly middle class.  I think the reason is that we don't have to keep up the appearance or buy stuff like electronics, new cars, labelled apparel -- or manicures.

The bank that holds our mortgage called yesterday trying to sign us up for a HELOC because we have so much "untapped equity" in our home.  Well, that is intentional -- our goal is to build equity.  In our circle of friends, that is a common goal.  But when I talk with others and I read things on-line or watch TV, I don't see that mindset as being all that popular.  I know for my readers it is.

I told the lady on the phone that I not only didn't want to tap the equity but that I work for a bank and would buy banking products from my employer.  However, I'm not rushing to do a re-fi because our interest rate is good and I wouldn't gain anything out of it -- plus we'd be hit with closing costs again.  We also have cash reserves to pay off our mortgage but then we would not have an emergency fund.

My next goal, now that I am permanently employed and our two salaries mean we are in a good place, is to start putting some of our liquid savings into non-401(k) investments that we could sell if needed.  At the same time, these investments would earn more than bank interest.  Our goal is not to spend our money or splurge, it is to build equity and security.  We won't look any better or appear any more affluent, but we'll sleep better at night and live better when we retire.

Truth be told, we still "splurge."  I purchased a new vacuum because the three (yes, THREE) we have are not "optimal" for the way I like to clean.  It is a new Oreck and it set me back $300.  The way I see it, that is more valuable and useful than ten manicures.  I could also pay someone to clean the house, but that vacuum is a lot cheaper!

Like my manicure, the cleanliness of my house is not perfect -- but it's OK if you don't look that close!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I've Got a Bad Cold...

and that is why I have not been posting!  I blame a guy in the pool who was in the lane next to me just sitting under water.  Not only did he point out that "I don't walk slow like that guy" -- whose lane he was sharing.  He also mentioned he was just in the pool because he had a bad cold and being under the water made his head feel better.

I really wanted to give him a big "F-U" for both of those things but all I said was "that guy is walking slowly because he's doing water exercises on account of having had a double knee replacement 8 weeks ago."  Within 48 hours I was sick and missed two days of work.  TBG started work on Monday and he has not missed any time although he has a cold too.  My absence meant not being able to give a presentation I'd worked very hard on.  I'll give it this week or next but the lost time is no help to me, and the presentation will have a big impact on my career. I don't want to be sick or jittery on cold meds when I give it!

Some people have no manners and should just stay at home.  OK, so being sick has made me cranky --  I just wanted to explain why I've been away.

Monday, April 20, 2015

More Tights

Ladies, if you wear tights, now if the time to buy them.  Each year I seem to find a mark-down bonanza in a different place.  This year it's been the super market.

A few weeks back I snagged multiple packages but found my size was a bit limited.  This past week I decided to check again and there were more to choose from in my size.  Each pair set me back $1.75 and they normally sell for $7.99 each.

Even though spring has sprung, we've still had cold days and I'm still going to be wearing tights.  90% of what I've purchased is for next year and beyond.  Going into the warmer season I can start wearing the lace style I picked up on clearance over a year ago at Khol's.  They are black so now I am keeping my eyes peeled for lighter colors -- but I don't have much hope.  That's OK as I am an optimist.  What I need will show up again -- when I least expect it in a place I hadn't thought of.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Let the Season Begin....

We opened up camp yesterday.  It was just a drive out, open up and go back home trip and the pup stayed behind.  The trailer was in good shape and TBG was able to do everything he usually does himself.  The new sink we put in last year had no plumbing  issues -- which is always a big relief.  It is such a pain when you drain the anti-freeze and find water coming out of a joint or cracks somewhere.

Next week I will go out  by myself since Tommy will be working on Saturday.  I'll buy myself a Swiffer and dust off everything and then wipe it all down.  There was one load of camp laundry I neglected to do in the off season which contained cushion covers so that is being washed now.  We have minor staples in the cupboards and beer in the fridge.
While we didn't lose any trees to the cliff by our site a few tumbled down to the West of us so our view is clearer.  There was a tree down last year that has seemed to successfully have re-rooted half way down the cliff.  I hope that will help with erosion.  The cliff isn't nearly as steep these days so I will have to keep a careful eye on Teddy so she doesn't try to reach the beach from where we are.

I am looking forward to an enjoyable summer because we no longer have the financial uncertainty that hung over us for the past two years.  We do hope the trailer lasts us another seven or eight years because we don't want to buy one before we retire and we don't want to give up this spot either.

Our lease for the season is all paid off too, so our only expense will be food, beverage, gas, meals out and utilities.   We can't wait!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just Another Night in Frugalville

Yep, just another way a chicken can stretch your frugal dollar.  The bird yielded fat, skin,  breast meat and bits from other parts.

The potatoes are crisping up with the skin and fat.

Tonight's dinner was rice with potatoes, beans, chicken, frozen green peppers and onions, plus frozen spinach.  I spiced it with curry, turmeric, Adobo salt, paprika and saffron plus liquid ranchero sauce -- the dregs which I rinsed out of the bottle using chicken broth (from a box purchased at a dollar store because I had none of my own thawed).

On the side, shredded cheese (from a block), light sour cream and chopped bagged salad with cabbage, carrots and tomatoes.  Just another night of stretching our food dollars to make a yummy meal!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seize the Deal

I popped into Tops on my way home knowing I wanted to buy a jar of sauce.   The quick trip set me back $27 because I did my regular breeze through in order to spy sale items or bargains.

The chicken was a "Use Today" special at $1 per pound.  I don't ever like to spend more than .99 cents per pound but that isn't all too common these days.  This one had gibbies too so that is what the pup is having for breakfast tomorrow. 

The bird set me back around six bucks.  A 5 pound bag of white potatoes was three bucks. We had the brussies from last week.  Tomorrow I will start stock.

I also picked up $1 bags of seafood portions.  These are small bags of scallops, salmon and flounder that are normally over priced at $2.90 a piece.  These are excellent convenience items and I can cram them into the freezer.  They are also ideal for camp.  For one dollar, I can buy a healthy protein for the same amount (even a little less) than a value item at a fast food restaurant.  Four ounces of flounder is a lot healthier than that amount of fatty ground beef and a cheap bun.  I don't really plan meals around these portions, but I do keep them on hand to pull out in an emergency (like last night).  I can always make up a frozen veggie and a pot of rice to go with.

Aside from food, we had a good evening.  It was sunny after work so I took the pup for a swim and we also took a walk.  There was ice in the river which comes from the lake this time of year and that makes the water and the breeze cool.  She does not mind.  I just like being out in the sun.  TBG had physical therapy.  It was his last session.  Well, he might go once a week right after he goes back to work (next week), but mostly he is done.  He is the only bi-lateral knee replacement his therapist has worked with that went back to work.  Most of her clients are retired.

Things will start to get crazy next week when he is no longer at home.  My posting may become sparse -- life keeps me busy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just Cook!

I believe if more people cooked their own meals, there would be less of a "retirement crisis" looming.

TBG and I met downtown at the club where he teaches Spinning.  He dropped me at the train this morning and brought my bag downtown with him.  I swam while he did the "bike that goes nowhere" thing.  The club is a ten to 15 minute walk from my office and it would have taken less time, but I missed the trolley that would have given me a ride half the way there.

We were starving afterwards but had nothing on deck for dinner.  Having a long weekend away is nice but it tosses most plans out the window.

The idea was to get a rotisserie chicken at the super market but when we got there, they were out.  So I bought a pound of ground beef and mushrooms.  Once at home, I realized we did not have a jar of sauce.  I made it "from scratch" using canned tomatoes and it turned out fine.  I baked the meat balls in the oven and dumped them in at the end.

This was cheaper and a bit healthier than take-out.  I figure the best way to keep your finances in line is too cook dinner and brown bag lunch.  Bringing home a pizza would have set us back about $15 and that is still about seven dollars more than I spent on this meal.  There's a good amount of meatballs and sauce left to be used for another meal.

This took me about 40 minutes to pull together and it was work, but ordering a pie or Chinese and going out to get it would have taken about the same amount of time.  Of course this isn't the kind of meal a girl gets skinny on -- but it tasted really good and we accomplished another meal at home.  Now, it is time for bed!