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Weekend Frugal List - 6/6/21

June 6th, 2021 at 05:05 pm


I've somehow got out of the habit of doing these frugal lists - partly because I am barely spending any money these days apart from just regular life expenses, so it is hard to come up with a list sometimes. At the moment, most of my frugalness comes from my garden. Anyway, here's my list from this week:

(1) Bartering Galore: Spring and late summer are two of my barter-heavy periods. There is a thriving community of backyard farmers in my town who trade all kinds of garden and food related things. Since I always start about four times as many seeds as I need plants, these are part of my Springtime trades. The two other big things in Spring/Early summer are new raspberry starts and the huge excess of herbs that I have. Not only does starting plants from seed save me money (a 4" start at the home-garden store is ~$3.49), but I also get to trade them for other goodies. This year I have traded for starts I don't have, as well as chicken and duck eggs. Later this year, I will trade my excess produce for produce I don't have or for goat's cheese, eggs and honey. This is the first place I have lived where people barter like this, and I absolutely love it.

(2) The garden is super productive right now. Over the past few weeks, I have finished harvesting all the peas, harvested 30 heads of garlic (20 more heads will be ready in another 2 weeks), harvested all the green and walking onions, the first flush of cilantro, and loads of lettuce. Also, some cut flowers for the home. But, this year we've had really hot weather, and my first round of Italian basil was bolting early. I cut a whole bunch for a bouquet and it looks beautiful in addition to making my kitchen smell absolutely heavenly. I've replaced it in the garden with sweet basil and Thai basil for the rest of the summer.

(3) The realtor I used to purchase my home sends regular ads to people who have bought from her before as one of her marketing methods. She will frequently include things for the receiver (calendars in December, free coffee coupons, free frozen yogurt coupons, and so on). This month, her newsletter ad came with a free coupon for a car wash. It was quite welcome since I was thinking of getting my car washed sometime soon anyway. 

Weekly Frugal List - 2/13/21

February 13th, 2021 at 03:58 pm

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. ❤️💖

Here is my list of frugal things:

(1) Finished reading four books so far this year (and am halfway through two others). I had been on a very long run of reading only non-fiction, and got back into reading some fiction again. Three of the books I read were fiction, and I recommend them: "The Silent Patient" and "Memory Man" are both gripping page turners. The other was "Good Omens", and I haven't laughed as much while reading a book in a long long time. I highly recommend it. Got all of the books read this year for free through the library on either Hoopla or Libby.

(2) Sowed peas, beets, flowers. I start almost everything in my garden from seed. It's very frugal since it's just pennies as opposed to buying starts from the garden center for $1-2. I also started some eggplant seeds for the garden this week - starting them early because I hope to get them nice and big before I transplant them. I'll start spinach and radishes in the next week or two.

(3) I've been making loads of stir-fry lately. I ran out, and so made a new batch of hot oil. I'll share the recipe below in case anyone else is interested. I used to spend $4.99 for a small bottle of it at the Asian store until I started making my own. I highly recommend it since you can customize it to suit your taste, and it costs less than a dollar to make a good sized bottle of it.

I used to buy hot oil (the condiment you find at the tables of Chinese restaurants) because I made lots of stir-frys and also because I found that when getting take-away food from a restaurant, I was given the condiment in impossibly tiny containers and it was never nearly enough. However, it can be expensive to buy it (if you eat lots of hot food like me), and so I started making my own. The only two ingredients you really need are red pepper flakes and oil (something that has a higher smoke point - not olive oil). I usually buy the red pepper flakes from the bulk section of the grocery store for a few pennies, but you can also buy bags of it for $1-$2, and you can use those for 4-8 batches depending on how much red pepper you are going to use. And I use regular canola oil.

1. Add the red pepper flakes to a glass jar. The more flakes you add, the hotter the oil will be. I usually fill the jar about half full because I like hot spice.
2. Add any other ingredients you like (I usually add a little pink salt, some sesame seeds, peanuts, and thin garlic slivers). This is optional, but I find makes it much more flavorful.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan that has a lip for easy pouring. Heat until you start seeing small wisps rising.
4. Place the jar on a flat surface and slowly pour the oil into it in small batches. It will bubble up and smoke, so stand back. Once the jar is filled, take a spoon or chopstick and mix the peppers about in the oil to ensure that you don't have any dry spots or air pockets. You can do this indoors, but I don't recommend it because you'll be coughing a lot and your entire kitchen will smell like chili peppers for a week. I always do it outdoors. I then leave it outside until it is at room temperature before I bring it in.

It can be stored at room temperature and will last for months. I add it to my stir-fry of course, but also use it in loads of other ways. A little spoonful in scrambled eggs, mixed with yogurt or sour cream for a spicy dip, mixed in with some plain hummus to make it spicy, etc. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy.

Weekly Frugal List - 1/16/21

January 16th, 2021 at 05:07 pm

This week's frugal thing:

(1) I am almost done reading two books so far this year - both free through the library. One through Hoopla and the other through Libby. One of them was "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, which I highly recommend. I am pleased with the pace I am keeping of reading so far. A half an hour here or there makes short work of a book, and I am spending much less time watching TV. I don't have a reading goal for the year. However, last year I read 22 books, and hope to read around that many or a few more this year.

There hasn't been much I have been doing in terms of money - my only expense was filling gasoline in my car, and my first grocery trip since mid-November.

BONUS: A lot of people have been blogging about eating from their fridge and pantry this month. Here is a resource that helps come up with recipes that use ingredients you already have on hand. I think there are several of these about, and you can just google them. This just is one that I have used on and off and find easy.

Weekly Frugal List - 1/9/21

January 9th, 2021 at 05:55 pm

What an awful week this has been! I'm sad and angry, but also deeply grateful that the democratic process continues despite the repeated assaults on it.

Here is a roundup of this week's frugal things:

(1) Harvested the rest of the carrots, and a third of the mustard greens this week. There weren't a whole lot of carrots left - about a dozen or so, and most were little ones, but still enough for sides for 3 meals. Cooked up the mustard greens into a frittata. I've still been eating from the freezer and pantry, so no grocery expenses this week.

(2) Got a referral link from one of my friends for M1 Finance. $10 free for both of us for using the link - it's not a lot, but it's free money. I'm going to use this account to play around with investing. I won't add a lot of money to this - most of my money is stashed in low cost index funds that I am going to hold for the long term. This account is going to be to learn to work with individual stocks. I am pretty risk averse, so I don't know if speculating will be fun or stressful. We shall see.

(3) Started crocheting an amigurumi toy for my neice using a free pattern. I almost feel like it's silly to add this to the frugal list since there are so many free patterns out there. But it will be a frugal gift to give the little toddler. She likes horses at the moment, so it's going to be a purple and gray horse since those were the colors of yarn that I had on hand. The bag of polyfill that I purchased for $4.97 will be enough for about 4 toys, so I see more crocheted toys in my future. I also hope it will help me curb the ridiculous habit I have of simultaneously watching TV and browsing on my phone.

Weekly Frugal List - 1/2/21

January 2nd, 2021 at 04:52 pm


Here is a roundup of this week's frugal things:

(1) Started out the New Year by starting a free book through Hoopla.

(2) Started seeds for shallots on New Year's Day. They will go out into the garden on the 1st of March and all being well will be harvested at the end of July. These are my first seeds for the year. Last year, I started them in mid-Feb and had small-ish shallots. So, decided to start them sooner this year. It was a lovely way to start the new year.

(3) This one cost money, but will save me money. I purchased a National Park Pass. I plan to go on a camping road trip later in the year to visit all of Utah's national parks. I have been to the Zion and Bryce Canyon NPs about 10 years ago, so it will be fun to go again. I paid less for the pass that I would have paid in individual entrance fees on my one week trip. And I can use it to go to other national parks and monuments if I travel any more this year.

Starting New Year's Day with reading, gardening, and travel related things are hopefully something of an auspicious omen for how this year will go. I hope you all have a wonderful 2021.

2020 Goals Recap

December 27th, 2020 at 05:05 pm

I started my blog late in the year, and didn't post my 2020 financial goals here. But, I make new goals each year and track them. Here is the recap.

(1) Quit my job for full time self-employment
To be fair, this was something that I had been planning for two years. So, the work towards this goal was spread out between May 2018 and March 2020. I made the switch the last week of March 2020, and it just happened to coincide with the pandemic lockdowns. This was absolutely heavenly because I could just make my own decisions rather than have to deal with organizational resistance and issues related to the change. I have learned a lot over this year about self-employment. The biggest things to get used to were managing my own retirement savings/contributions, and getting used to inconsistent income.

(2) Save 75% of income
NOPE. But, almost done.
I ended up saving 69.27% of my gross income this year. This is still an astonishing proportion of savings, and I am delighted by it. I chose to measure %-age of gross income since a lot of this is saved pre-tax. Included in the savings are: HSA, SEP-IRA contributions, EF/savings, additions to brokerage account, and mortgage principal paydown. Not included are mortgage interest and escrow (property taxes, insurance, PMI), any of the money put aside for taxes, and any interest/appreciation on savings/investments. I am going to keep the same goal for next year, and see how it goes. If I don't meet the goal next year either, maybe I'll revise it to 70%.

(3) Credit Score over 800
If I use the FICO reported on my Citi account (reported by Transunion), my score is 845. But, I am picking the FICO reported on my Chase account (reported by Experian) to gauge this. Based on that, I'm at a 792 score right now.  Either way, I am up from my score last December when it was a 748. I like to think that refinancing my house required pulling hard credit which prevented it from rising the last 8 points. Two credit cards that I was not using also closed, and this may have had an impact on the score, although I am not sure.

(4) Consistently put extra money towards the mortgage
I put extra towards the mortgage each month. I also refinanced the house in July and went from a 4.5% rate to 3.125%. This helped more of my extra payment to go towards the principal. Now I wish I had waited longer since the interest rates continued to go lower. But, it's still a substantial savings. Even with my accelerated payoff plan, the change in interest rate shaved 1.5 years off my payoff date, and $17,800 off the total interest I will pay.

(5) Have six months worth of an EF
I did have an EF last year, but it was not a dedicated EF. My tax savings was also doubling as my EF. This is super risky, and I decided to save a separate dedicated EF for peace of mind. Based on an MMM blog post I read, I am considering opening a home equity line of credit to use as an EF if I need more than 2-3 months of expenses. This will enable me to put about $15k more into the market. It's riskier, but $20k sitting in my Ally account isn't really doing very much. What are your thoughts on this?

(6) Max out HSA
First time having an HSA. Fully funded for the year.

(7) Max out SEP-IRA
DONE (ish).
I won't know exactly how much more I need to add to max this out until I have year end numbers. My accountant estimates $10k more, and I have this amount saved. I just don't want to add it to my IRA account until she runs final numbers just so I am not running into any issues about contributing over the limit. This is my first year managing my own retirement accounts and contributions. It has been a learning process.

(8) Travel more, and do so frugally
DONE (ish).
I had hoped to travel more since I was anticipating having more time on my hands when I left my job. I had planned to take a cruise, go to NYC for a conference + personal time, take two camping trips, and go to Iceland and England. The pandemic changed all of this. However, my cruise (mid-Feb) and NYC conference (early Mar) both happened before the pandemic shutdowns. In retrospect, I was so lucky to not be quarantined aboard a cruise ship or catching the virus when I was travelling. The first reports of COVID in New York happened while I was there. I ended up not attending any of the conference social gatherings, and at the sessions I sat as far away as possible from others. This was lucky since many attendees reported that they tested positive in the month after. No travel has happened since I returned from NYC. I ended up getting a refund for my airfare to Europe. The two camping reservations I had made were canceled because the state parks here were closed and I was not feeling adventurous enough to go boondocking. The two trips that I did take early in the year were done frugally.

(9) Manage my health
DONE (ish).
I started 2020 by breaking my toe on New Year's Day. So, my very first expense of the year was a trip to Urgent Care and a ridiculously expensive boot that they gave me. Thankfully, that and a new pair of glasses have been my only medical expenses. I ended up losing about 12 lbs this year. Mostly, I think this was due to less stress after leaving my job and consequently less stress-eating. I also started to semi-regularly exercise since I now have more time to exercise. And, I learned how to hula hoop, and this was loads of fun. I had hoped to lose 17 lbs, and achieved most of this, so I am happy. My blood sugar is still being managed without medicine or insulin. My diabetic eye exam this year was normal. I decided not to go to a dentist this year due to the pandemic, but my teeth seem to be in good repair as far as I can tell.

(10) Create a plan for FIRE
I have a plan to retire by my 55th birthday. I worked on it all year - this included crunching numbers, planning retirement contributions, learning how to best invest my money, spending a few hours each week reading books, watching YT videos and listening to podcasts that help me prepare for FI. I have been working and tweaking a plan for how I can make this happen, and even with very conservative estimates, I think this is doable by age 55 in the year 2034. If the market continues to rise, or my income rises (I anticipate that I can work a few more hours a week when I am working in person), I can make this happen by 2032. If there is a housing market crash and I am able to get a deal on some rental property, then this can happen by 2031.

Weekly Frugal List - 12/26/20

December 26th, 2020 at 04:16 pm

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Here is a roundup of this week's frugal things:

(1) A friend just moved into a new house, and I had the perfect gift for her that came from my "gift closet" - when I see something nice on sale that I would like to gift, I buy it and stick it in my gift closet. If there isn't already something specific I have in mind for someone or if they don't tell me they want something in particular, I can usually find something really nice from my collection of frugal gifts.

(2) I got a code for 5 free magnets on shutterfly, and made five sets of photo-magnets for friends and family who have children with pictures of their kids from this year. I think they are super cute, and only cost me the price of shipping.

(3) My sister ended up buying the camping cot for me for Christmas, so that is one purchase that I don't need to make this year. I am so excited. I love getting gifts that I want. Also, one of my friends made handmade soap for gifts and brought me some. It is chai-scented and smells heavenly.

(4) One of my friends who is also single shared his HBO login with me. He can stream on 3 devices at a time, but only uses one at a time since it's just him. So, this week I watched Wonder Woman '84 as soon as it was released and binged two whole seasons of Insecure.

(5) This Christmas was a frugal one in general because I am not traveling anywhere to see anyone. I would have gladly forgone this frugal thing.

Weekly Frugal List - 12/19/20

December 19th, 2020 at 05:25 pm

This week's frugal things:

(1) I atteneded a zoom training hosted by my previous workplace, and got 3 hours of free CEs. It's always nice to be able to get those for free.

(2) Sold a couple of things on FB Marketplace. I don't have a glut of things, but I have more than one person needs. I don't think I will ever be a minimalist, but my goal is to sell or give away more things and distill my posessions down to a slightly lower level.

(3) Harvested half the remaining carrots. The other half will be harvested immediately after the new year. Also pulled some leeks. I will make some leek risotto with cauliflower rice.

BONUS: I didn't get this myself, but for those of you who are healthcare workers, Starbucks is giving away a free tall cup of coffee to healthcare workers and emergency responders for the month of December. Coffee just for the price of the tip is a good frugal thing.

2021 Garden Outlook

December 16th, 2020 at 04:28 pm

I thought I would do a garden post since I have been in a flurry of garden planning for next year. This is one of my favorite activities, and also is a very frugal thing that helps me save thousands of dollars in grocery bills each year.

My veggie garden is one of the great joys of my life. The first thing I did when I purchased the house last year, even before I unpacked my boxes, was to construct raised beds and start a garden. After nearly 15 years of living in apartments, I could finally have a garden - something I have always loved. In addition to being a frugal habit (organic veggies are expensive), it also provides me with hours of fresh air, exercise, and peace throughout the year. I love tending to my plants. I feed them, care for them, protect them, and they repay me by feeding my body and soul.

Last year, I grew a lot of veggies, but it was far from ideal. I worked out a better method this year of intensive planting paired with flowers for the bees, and this helped increase output. I also asked for and received a small plastic greenhouse as a Christmas gift last year. This helped me to give many of my seedlings a head start, and this meant a longer productive season. I also got more effective at processing and storing the food, and bought a small freezer to store it all. It really helped that I was working much less this year, and was working from home all the time. My garden really benefitted from this. Learning from what I did this year, I have worked out an even better plan for next year. This includes a more intentional staggered system of planting, growing even more intensively, adding a lot more flowers, and growing a few things that I didn't grow this year to save even more on grocery bills.

Here is my garden plan for 2021:

Garlic - Shantung, Corsican Red, Russian Red (already in the ground and growing)
Tomatoes - Black Krim, Sungold, Chocolate Cherry, Purple Russian
Peppers - Cayenne, Serrano, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeno, Bird's Eye, Aji Lemon Drop, Sugar Rush Peach, Brazilian Orchid, Jimmy Nardello
Eggplants - Rosa Bianca, Listada de Gandia, Little Prince, Galine (if it overwinters)
Peas - Magnolia Blossom
Shallots - Zebrune
Beets - Detriot Dark Red, Golden
Greens - Red Russian Kale, Mustard, Mache, Spinach, Mixed Lettuce
Beans - Royal Burgundy, Red Noodle
Summer Squash - Pattypan, Ivy gourd
Winter Squash - Red Kuri, Delicata, Butternut, Sugar Pie Pumpkin
Onions - Walking, Bunching (already in the ground and growing)
Leeks - American Flag
Carrots - Purple Dragon, Nantes, Danvers
Herbs - Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Mint, Cilantro, Nigella, Sage
Berries - Blueberries, Raspberries

I will take a break from growing zucchini since my food resue group gets hundreds of pounds of it donated from one of the organic farms for whom we harvest. If I have the space between rotations or between plants, I will also add radishes, turnips and cucumbers. But, mostly I will focus on the above.

At first glance, this might seem like a ridiculous number of things to fit in three garden beds and a few pots (for the herbs), but I do almost year round planting, and these are planned to be staggered so that something is growing in each bed almost at any given time. Each of these crops lasts 2-6 months from planting to harvest. So, staggering them based on what grows in each season helps me to grow much much more than if I didn't.

In addition to the vegetables, I am going to plant loads of flowers - both for aesthetic appeal, as well as for the pollinators. The first year I had my garden, I planted no flowers. The second year, I added a few marigolds, a few calendula, sweet peas, one peony, and two lavender bushes. Once I did that, my garden was teeming with bees and bugs, and my yield went up by more than twice my first year. This year, I plan on having - poppies, sweet peas, hollyhocks, calendula, marigold, dahlias, Persian buttercups, carnations, cosmos, zinnias, peonies, morning glory, shasta daisies, gazanias, lavender, sea thrift, nigella, mallow, sunflowers, lobelia, gypsophila, and whatever is in two wildflower seed packets I got. That should keep the bees in the area happy, and will make my whole garden look like a delight in addition to providing me with cut flowers for every room.

The major garden projects this year are (1) re-do the irrigation plan I have to make it more time efficient for me, and (2) take out five rose bushes in my front yard and replace them with annual flowers. I like the idea of roses, but I don't actually like having the rose bushes themselves. Also because the earwigs seem to prefer the roses more than anything else on my property.

Weekly Frugal List - 12/12/20

December 12th, 2020 at 08:44 am

Here is a roundup of this week's frugal wins:

(1) My food rescue group received a very large seed donation for last year's seeds. So, a volunteer made up bundles of seeds for the members (we have almost a thousand households in the group). I receieved a bundle of 50 seed packets. While they are last year's seeds, seeds often remain viable for several years. I already had planned and collected seeds for about a half of next year's garden, and will certainly use many of these seeds. I will keep what I will use, and then donate the rest back to the group. Earlier in the month, I had planned on using's yearly seed swap, and then backed out of it because of the pandemic. If you have a garden, it's a frugal way to get a bunch of seeds. You post seeds you have to swap, and then for about a week or so, get to pick seeds that you want. Then you mail off your seeds to the host who collects all the seeds, then redistributes them into packets of seeds that each person picked and then mails them out. It costs $9 (varies by year) to enter the swap (to cover the host's postage) plus the cost of mailing your box of seeds to the host. All in all, it may cost about $15-$20, and is an economical way to receive seeds for close to a 100 different crops. The swap happens in November and is closed for this year, but for future years, here is the website: While that is extremely economical, my free seed bundle was certainly a wonderful frugal surprise.

(2) I needed a new warm hat for this winter (although it's not very cold here yet). I was thinking I might get one in an after Christmas sale. But, someone I know said that she was crocheting as a coping mechanism for this year and had made hats and scarves for everyone she knew and was constantly making more. I got an amazing and beautiful crocheted hat from her. It is so beautiful and fits my head perfectly. This is an absolutely wonderful way to cope with the craziness of this year.

(3) This would be the week that I typically send out Christmas cards. I love sending Christmas cards, and this is a line item in every December budget because of how many I send (domestic and international). However, I decided to forgo cards this year so that people don't have to handle mail that several other hands have touched. This is another unintentional frugal thing this awful year. I'll send e-cards instead.

(4) My sister asked me what I want for Christmas, and I gave her a couple of options of things that I was going to buy myself anyway. I started doing this years ago, and while she is not a big fan of "useful gifts", she has come to accept that I go completely gaga over something useful and those are the kinds of gifts I like best. Over the years, she's given me things I would have bought anyway (a greenhouse, my first iPhone, an Apple TV, my favorite perfume, a big pack of assorted bottles of hot sauce, my Fitbit, the wallet I have been using for the last four years, etc. - all things that I use every day or almost every day). Of the options I gave her, I hope she buys me the camping cot. It will make camping much more comfortable.

(5) Gave away an older microwave that was sitting in the garage for about a year or so on Buy Nothing.

P.S. I don't seem to be able to add a link here using the URL tag. How do you all do it?

Rakuten Thoughts?

December 9th, 2020 at 01:32 am

Hi Everyone,

I've been hearing a lot about Rakuten. I have not used it, but I am sure someone here has. Is it simple to use? I don't do cumbersome things, but if this is easy, then I would like to join. I think they have good referral bonuses as well.

That being said, does anyone here have a referral link to share with me so that if I sign up, you get something too. 


Weekly Frugal List - 12/05/20

December 5th, 2020 at 05:48 pm

Here is a roundup of this week's frugal wins:

(1) This has been a expense-free week. I did not spend any money this week. This is not usual. It helped that I had stocked up on groceries a couple of weeks ago.

(2) Most of my meals this week were made from the veggies and herbs from my summer garden. I preserve (mostly by freezing) loads of veggies between July and September, and this feeds me through most of the year.

(3) I started reading another free book I got on Hoopla through the library. I recommend it. It is "Playing with FIRE" by Scott Rieckens. It documents the author's family's journey towards financial independence. There is a documentary based on this too, but I was not able to find it streaming anywhere. You can rent it or buy it, but I no longer rent or buy DVDs or videos - I only watch things on my two subscriptions (Netflix and Amazon Prime), and borrow things from the library.

(4) I set up my Christmas tree. It's a 4-foot fake tree that I bought in 2004, right after I started grad school when I moved in to my very first roommate-free home. I bought it for $20, and if I get four more years out of it, I will have spent about $1/year on it. Thankfully, it is still sturdy and in great shape, and I think I shall get at least another 5-10 years out of it. It is pre-lit with fiber optic strands, and comes with three color schemes. So each year, I can choose a different look for the tree. I mostly use the same ornaments each year and only buy new ones if I really particularly like something (and then I probably buy them at after-christmas sales).

(5) I gave away a paper shredder, some Christmas wrapping paper, and a couple of food storage barrels on Buy Nothing. They were all picked up within two days.

Weekend Frugal List - 11/27/20

November 27th, 2020 at 09:42 pm

I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of the week's frugal wins:

(1) Frugal Thanksgiving - this is an involuntary one. Saved on travel and food costs. Did a zoom dinner with family instead.
(2) Harvested my first winter veggies - leeks and carrots. It's my first time growing both. The leeks are a success. The carrots are a bit smaller than I thought they would be. But, they function double duty since you can eat the leaves like you would eat spinach. I'll let them grow a bit more and harvest the rest in mid-December.
(3) Bought an airfryer at a Black Friday discount. I meant to buy one for myself for Christmas. The one I had identified was listed on Amazon was $69.99. I got one of a different brand but same capacity at a local store Black Friday sale for $29.99.
(4) Got a beautiful antique desk chair and a brand new food scale on the Buy Nothing group. The food scale was another thing I meant to buy myself, and now I don't have to.
(5) I'm in a local group that combats food waste, and this week we were donated about a 1000 tubs of hummus that have a sell by date of the end of the month. I got three, opened one and froze the other two. Hummus freezes really well.
(6) Read a book I got through Libby. If you have a library card, you can use Libby/Overdrive and Hoopla which are two apps that give you access to free library resources.
(7) I was feeling restless earlier this week, and was missing travel. So, I planned a road trip to the Utah national parks, and spent about 6 hours planning a 7 day trip down to the tiniest detail. Now, I have a full itinerary ready to go, and got to enjoy the closest thing to travel that I can right now. It was a fantastic pick me up, and was completely free. I guess this isn't really a frugal thing since it is always free to plan a trip. However, the itinerary that I planned is extremely frugal, so I am counting it here anyway.


Sidebar is Working

November 21st, 2020 at 04:50 pm

That was a pleasant thing to notice when I logged on today. Glad it's working again.

Things have been mostly ho hum. It's been cold and rainy, so I am dragging my feet on raking leaves. I think I'll do it sometime this afternoon. Rather than bag them up for the city to haul away, I keep my dead leaves. It provides me with brown material for my compost bin all year long. And over the year, the remainder breaks down to really wonderful leaf mold. I have a small amount of last year's leaves that have broken down beautifully. I'll add that to my raised beds before piling up the new leaves from this year. It saves plenty on compost costs for my garden.

The only things I still have growing in my garden than I can still harvest this year are mustard greens, leeks and carrots. I also have autumn-sown garlic growing, but that won't be harvested it till next June. It's my first time growing leeks, and I am super excited to start harvesting them around the beginning of December.

Buy Nothing

November 11th, 2020 at 06:36 pm

Are you in a local group that is part of The Buy Nothing Project? If not, please consider joining. The Buy Nothing Project aims to empower people to engage in a generous giving economy. When you are part of a group in your area, you can post things that you don't want - it helps create less waste, less landfill, and goes to helping people. You can pick up things that others post. And if there is something you need, you can ask on the group, and only buy it if no one has the thing you are looking for. No selling or bartering is allowed - it's purely about giving freely, and relying on your local community to meet needs rather than to buy things and have them shipped to you.  

I have posted and given away a lot of things - furniture, clothes, excess garden produce, knickknacks - things that otherwise would either go to a landfill, or I would have to haul to the thrift store where someone would have to pay money to get it. I also have received lots of things - clothes, decor items, garden tools, a cell phone charger, pots for my plants, an umbrella, houseplant cuttings, books, a backpack, etc.

But two of the things gifted to me stand out as the most valuable and useful - things I would have purchased anyway except for the BNP. I received a tumbler composter last year that has created a LOT of compost for my garden and keeps on giving.

The second, I picked up last night - a lot of 4 giant bottles of Protein Powder. The amazon cost of these is $160. I typically buy protein powder anyway because I am vegetarian and need to supplement my protein intake. I used to eat lentils and beans for protein, but I have diabetes and eat low carb now. So, I can't eat as many beans. So, protein powder it is! This generous give from the group will last me about 5-6 months.

The lady I picked up from has an absolutely enormous and gorgeous house. I did a porch pickup in the late evening. It was dark outdoors, and the house was lit from indoors. So, I could not help but notice the mind bogglingly huge living room with a 20+ foot ceiling through the floor to ceiling glass windows. That must be what living in luxury feels like. I can only imagine what the house costs - must be $1 million +, even in my little town. So, she's clearly rich. And she still is in the group - that is admirable. I love it when rich people are frugal too.

You can go here to find your local group: 

Bittersweet Refund

October 24th, 2020 at 03:20 pm

Pre-pandemic, I had booked a trip to Europe with travel to Iceland and England. It was supposed to be a celebratory trip to mark my starting to be fully self-employed. To celebrate that I can set my own hours and take vacation whenever I wanted for however long I wanted. No more applications for leave to be approved! I had really been looking forward to it. It was supposed to happen in August. My sister and her family were to have joined me for a portion of it. 

Needless to say, the trip did not happen because of COVID. Iceland Air, who I had booked the trip with, canceled one leg of the flight several months ago, and I immediately cancelled the trip and applied for a refund. They kept delaying  the refund. Anyway, about a week ago, I got notification that my refund had been processed. It showed up in my account today, five months after I submitted the refund request.

The refund amount is $1665. It is bittersweet. I really wish I could have gone on this trip. But, on the other hand this will pay for about 3 months of expenses. Oh well - Iceland will always be there. I can go when it is safe to go.

A question - is anyone else having trouble copy-pasting your entries? I lost my entries so much over the past week, that I wrote it out in a different document and tried to paste into the editor. But, it does not save my entries when I do that. I have to type out the whole entry each time with no guarantees that it will actually save. Very frustrating!


Hello World

October 14th, 2020 at 03:38 pm

Hello World,

Last year, when several months of blog entries were lost, I lost my blog. All my entries were within the time range of lost entries. I kept waiting for them to be re-instated, but it did not happen, so I am starting again.

I am 41, single, no kids, in the healthcare field, and am newly self-employed.

Here is the gist of my financial situation:

For all my twenties, I was a financial idiot. I saved nothing, spent more than I could afford, did not learn about managing money, and got myself into a giant mess of high-interest consumer debt.

In my early thirties, this started catching up with me, and I started to educate myself about money and how to dig myself out of the hole. Unfortunately, two things were working against me - the high interests made it harder to make a dent in the debt, and I was in an abusive relationship which also included financial abuse and a gambling habit. I divorced when I was 36, and spent the next four years pulling myself together financially. I started working for myself on the side, paid off all my debt (~$58,000), purchased a new-to-me car in cash, saved an emergency fund of $20K, saved 5% for down-payment and purchased my current home, and determined that I will never again carry consumer debt.

I have just started my forties. Earlier this year, I left my salaried job of ten years, and went into full time self-employment. I work 2/3rd as much and make twice as much, and was the best decision I could have made for myself. For the first time in my life, I am not living paycheck to paycheck. For the first time in my life I am not constantly thinking or worrying about money. So, for the first time in my life, both my money and my time actually belong to me. It is a tremendously freeing experience. I am truly happy for the first time in my life.

My current focus is trying to save and catch up on retirement planning and investing as much as I can. Never having had money to invest before, this is new to me and I am learning as I go. I hope to retire at the age of 55. However, it will require consistent and aggressive savings to do since I am starting so much later than I should have. I hope to save 75% of my post-tax income if I can. At my current income level, I think this is doable. Years of living frugally due to necessity also makes it easy to save - it has become habit by now. It also helps that I have no debt and am a single member household. I have a small amount of retirement from my previous job, but apart from that, everything else I have saved in just this year.

My financial strategy is as follows:
1. Save by maxing out tax-deferred retirement contributions. Since I am self-employed, I get to save more than the traditional IRA amounts.
2. Invest in taxed retirement accounts. (Can I have a Roth IRA in addition to the tax-deferred? Need to check up on this)
3. Invest the remainder of what I can save in a brokerage account
4. Pay off my house in 10 years. It is a 30-year mortgage, but I want to prioritize paying this off because I only have one income coming in and want to get this off my back as soon as I can. This provides psychological relief, but also if I don't carry a mortgage into retirement, I need to save less for retirement.
5. As I get closer to paying off my mortgage, purchase some rental property and pay that off by the time I am retired. This should provide passive income for me to live on in addition to savings/dividends until I can draw on retirement and social security income.

Here is where I currently stand. (** I am not going to do exact decimals. I will round debt up and assets down to the nearest hundred)

60,000 - House Equity
27,000 - SEP IRA
52,000 - 457 Account
20,000 - Brokerage
20,000 - Savings(EF)
3,900 - HSA
182,900 - NET WORTH

Edit: Thanks to a comment by Petunia100, my NW jumped $253,000 this morning. I guess I was incorrectly counting my mortgage twice. I have been in positive NW for a while now, but my brain has just caught up with this fact. WTH! How am I so lucky? Petunia - thank you so much!!