Eating Green This Summer

Funny Vegetables

I won’t try to fool anyone.  I love myself some cookies.  And donuts.  And pie.  And fajitas and fried chicken.  Love, love, love.

But in the summer time, I get giddy for garden vegetables.  The fresh from the garden taste of tomatoes and cantaloupe is a joy to behold and I am all in.  This year, I planted several tomato plants, eggplant and green pepper.

In addition to doing this out of a desire to have another dimension to my life.  I also look forward to the monetary savings of growing my own food.  Truly, I experienced physical pain earlier this Spring when I had to hand over $2.49 per 2-pack at Aldi for green peppers.

Except for a handful of cherry tomatoes, nothing major has come from my garden, yet.  In fact, the beetles are eating my eggplant and a rabbit has laid claim to the green pepper plant.  But, I am not discouraged!  That is because so many others are doing quite well on their gardens and guess who gets to benefit?  Me!!!!

So far, I have saved by not having to buy zucchini or squash or celery because other gardens surplus has provided for me.  In fact, my mom went so far as to not only give me a load of squash and cucumbers, she took some of the squash, turned it into an amazingly delicious casserole, let herself into my house and left us dinner for the evening.  THANK YOU, MOM!

I am looking forward to when my little patch of gardening earth starts throwing up the goods.  I will eat those veggies and share them, too.

Saving money by gardening is delicious!

Thrifty Image

Purchase, Purchase

I Love Shopping Picture

I have made it a point to be very intentional in my purchasing the last 2-3 years.  I run the usual investigative questions through my mind for most purchases – Do I really need it?  Why do I want it?  Do I already have something like it? How will I feel about it in the near future?  Do I have room for it? Will it really make my life better?

With these questions, I have been successful in a 2+ year handbag shopping ban and a clothes shopping ban for 5 months.  But, nature abhors a vacuum and some other interesting purchases have made it to the forefront.

I purchased a new phone last week.  I moved from a MOTO E from Republic Wireless to the MOTO G. I wanted to wait until they had a new selection that was similar to the MOTO X but my phone was dying by degrees.  I couldn’t even turn off the alarm in the mornings anymore — oh the horror!

I have discovered couponing!  I have LOTS of dish detergent, paper towels, hair products and vitamins.  I justify this shopping by letting couponing experts tell me I am saving money in the long run.  It must be a really looooog run because my MINT account is going crazy. You should see the notifications I am getting about the Shopping category.

With the exception of a few items that I only picked up because they were free, I know that I will use all the products personally or as goody bag stuffers. But I recognize the truth.  I just wanted to try something new and I wanted to SHOP.  I did a good thing by implementing shopping bans.  I did poor follow through by not replacing the shopping activity with a healthier option.

Now that my eyes are open, I am beginning a new plan. I will take full advantage of the soon to be nice weather and focus in on our garden work. Usually on gardening days I am too tired to want to do anything else anyway and that is just the way I like it.

I also plan to pick up some inside tasks.  Junior wants to paint her room and some of her furniture and that is definitely a distraction.  Her favorite colors at this moment are grays, blacks and whites. Should be interesting.

Oh yeah and I plan to eat more.  Not exactly the usual goal that is written but what can I say?  I am at an age where I finally enjoy trying new recipes, have learned a reasonable substitute for Cream of Tarter and no longer care about my weight in relation to popular culture.  A healthy enough weight is fine with me.

So there.  I am putting down my coupon clippers  and picking up my garden shears. It’s time for some growth.

The Thrifty Image

2016 Goals

Goals - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the time of year to set new goals and challenges so I am jumping in with both feet.  It has been years since I have formally resolved to act a certain way based on the beginning of the new year.  I am excited to see how sharing my goals in a blog helps me to progress.

Research and participate in at least six 30 day challenges in 2016

This is big for me. With the exception of the Paleo Whole 30 I did in 2014 with my sister, I have not ever been one for this type of activity.  But I am excited!  I have already started my first – the 30 day water challenge (more on this in a later post).  I think breaking in new habits through manageable challenges like this will work for me.  I don’t have all the challenges picked out, yet, but six is the goal.  The financial windfalls here are already embedded in the challenges themselves.

Spend more money 

Okay, relax.  It is not as simple as that one statement.  For years, since I started my family basically,  I have been a little afraid when it comes to spending money.  Afraid of being laid off and not having a salary, afraid of not being able to help send Mirror Image to college without the aid of student loans, afraid of not being able to pay the mortgage, etc.  So for years, I have been a squirrel.  Savings were squirreled away into various accounts for the day when the EMERGENCY came.  It was the right thing to do and I stand by it. I will always continue to save. But it was a little extreme and there has been a cost.  And in 2016, I am going to force myself to pay the cost.

I plan to spend more money on my house and health.  Specifically:

  1. Hire contractors to completely rip apart my bathroom and build it back up.  This is not just for cosmetics. I am pretty sure there is mold growing and that is no good for anyone.  Plus, it is the only bathroom in the house and the smallest bathroom I have ever lived with in my life so, it must be improved – for resale value and more importantly, health value.
  2. Hire contractors to insulate my attic.  This one I am just embarrassed by.  I should have had this done before I moved into the house 9 years ago.  (I didn’t know the importance – really!) Before all the junk that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house got piled up there.  And before the outrageous energy bills that come with an un-insulated house built in the 40’s facing northeastern U.S. weather.  But, I can’t dwell on the past.  My goal is to get it done in 2016.
  3. Hire painters.  I bought a Groupon last year to have my living room and dining room painted and I still swoon at how awesome Groupon is and how awesome it was to have a fresh paint job with fresh colors and a professional touch.  Well, I have been putting off the  rest of the house and it is time to get the last 3 rooms complete – 2 bedrooms and a hallway.  And yes, Groupon will be my vehicle of choice for that. (Groupon will totally get it’s own post one day I am sure.  It is perfect for the thrifty minded).
  4. Participate in at least five 5Ks.  The fees for these range and take some actual budgeting and planning but I don’t see a financial barrier this goal. Also, this really should not be a stretch goal because I have done this before.  However, it is a stretch because I want Mirror Image. to participate and she is anti 5K.  Not sure why.  At home she is a bundle of energy streaking around the house with her loving German Shepherd by her side.  But, tell her it is an organized event that we have to get up at 6am for?  No bueno.  No matter, in 2016, I will tickle drag her to at least five such events and somehow get her to admit just how awesome the experience is :).

Donate more money

This has been a goal for over a year now and I think I am ready.  Currently, I set aside 10% of my income for charitable giving through my Church.  Since last year when I paid off my car, I have wanted to redirect some of that money to an additional charitable organization on a monthly basis. Unfortunately some unexpected blows sucked those funds up with blinding speed.  However, with those things settled, I plan to do it in 2016 beginning no later than March. (I will be sharing a post on my research of the finalist charities.)

Spend less money

Well, duh.  This is largely a personal finance blog after all.  Of course living frugally and thriftily would be part of the mix.  I have always been a pretty good money manager but this goal is about wisdom and not just management.  I want to purposely use money this year. Not reactively or impulsively. Therefore, I have a goal to spend less in the following categories:

Food – We are foodies and like being foodies but the amount of money I spend for 2 people needs a second look.

Energy – The amount I spend on energy is directly related to how energy inefficient my house is.  I am putting some measures in place to combat this (See the Spend More Money goal for details)

Clothing – There is really nothing I can do about Mirror Image’s clothing budget line except catch the best sales and buy off-season.  At 11 years old, she grows every time she wakes up, it seems.  But as for me, I plan to organize my closets and all the off-season clothing in the attic to make sure I am always aware of what I have for each season and  the USE WHAT I ALREADY HAVE.  This combined with keeping my clothing size stable should keep me from needing to supplement my wardrobe unnecessarily.

Expand my garden

Last year I committed more time and space to gardening and loved the results!  I grew watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes and Italian eggplant.  Plus, a mix of herbs in pots.  Now this may not seem like a big deal to many but I have the tiniest garden space and was still able to grow some substantial produce.  And the best part?  Mirror Image would occasionally help me in the garden, or just pop outside to pick fruit to snack on rather than candy or other junk food,  And, she is ravenous over fresh cantaloupe.  How could I not make plans to indulge this hobby?  I plan to purchase and or build some raised beds for this year’s garden to really get the biggest bang from this goal.

Get my automobile insurance lowered

If you read the previous post then, you know I had an unfortunate incident almost 3 years ago.  Well, I am happy to report I am incident for 2 1/2 years.  That puts me six months from being able to get my insurance lowered.  And that is my goal.  I think it is worthy of a goal because I expect the insurance company to resist.  Why not make me pay more rather than less?  Bring it on, I say!

There you have it.  My major goals for 2016.  I expect some new thoughts to arise as the year goes on but, these areas above are me putting my money where my goals are.

What are your 2016 goals?

Thrifty Image Mirror