Wednesday, December 30, 2020
I finished the month of November with a little more than $60 in my checking account, $17 in my wallet, just over an eighth of a tank of fuel left in my car, a full gas tank in my truck and headed into December with no bills due. At all! Not to mention I had finished up all of my Christmas shopping as well last month and had nearly all of the food for holiday meals already purchased and in our pantry and freezers. To say we are truly blessed would be a complete understatement. We are incredibly fortunate right now. I thank God daily for the abundance we have.
2020 has been an incredible year for us as it has been for so many people. We have all been affected by the pandemic in more ways than one and we can all say this is not the year we were expecting it to be at all. The challenges we have faced have been enormous. I know that I have been tested a lot this year, but in spite of everything that has been thrown our way we have stayed strong and stayed the course. In fact, in spite of everything we have faced, it has actually been one of our better years.
I knew that for us to survive and even to thrive this year we would have to knuckle under and work really hard. For myself I knew that I've been through worse but in no way did I want to lose the gains I'd made in recent years and face starting over. Not again. But if I had to I also knew I could do it. I also knew my chances of getting through this would be so much better if I worked hard, eliminated as much debt as I could and saved as much money as I could so we were better prepared.
When the SHTF on March 13th and we all realized things were about to change in a very big way all three of us got very busy. My girls went down to our neighborhood Albertson's store the very next day and applied for jobs. They were hired on the spot and to this day continue to work there (my oldest transferred to a store near her college during the summer) and they work hard. I went to work every day at my job and took advantage of any overtime hours available. There has been a lot of overtime available for me and that extra income has been an enormous help.
First thing on my list, I got busy and made sure my emergency fund was fully funded and added an extra $1000 to it, just in case. At the same time I also worked on paying off my car. I was able to top up the emergency fund when my income tax refund arrived and when the COVID stimulus payments came I used most of it to finish paying off the car and the rest paid off a small credit card bill I had. I continued to save and pay off bills and in May, with the dramatic change in mortgage interest rates, I refinanced our home and used some of my equity to finish paying off the remaining medical debt we had which left us with only a mortgage and no more debt. With that accomplished I started to add more to my savings, HSA and retirement accounts. I also began prepping for long term food and household supplies. And I did that on an extreme budget too. With that completed I moved on to adding extra pet food and supplies for our animals.
With our new debt freedom we continue to live the same as we always have with the same modest budgets for food, clothes, fuel, entertainment (what's that?) and miscellaneous expenses. We joke that we live like paupers, but the reality is we don't need to live any other way at the moment. Our needs are met, we have most of the things we want and we are extremely content. In spite of everything that has happened this past year we are doing very well.
Of course my greatest fear is that something might happen (you know, waiting for the other shoe to drop?) and our circumstances will change again, however, if they do, and that is always a possibility, I'm better prepared than I have ever been. And with that I have greater peace of mind than I've ever had before. I thank God every single day for all that He has blessed us with and I pray daily that things will continue to go well for us. I also pray for those that are struggling and we help out whenever we can too. I feel that is very important for us to do.
So while 2020 was a hard year it was also a very good year and even though a lot of bad things happened I choose to focus more on all the really good things that happened instead. What will 2021 have in store for us? I honestly do not know. But, as I am right now, I will continue to be humble and grateful and to work really, really hard. And as long as we are willing to do that I know we will be okay. I am definitely ready for 2021. Please be good to us.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Hard to believe another Christmas is in the books already. I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful and very happy holiday. Our Christmas was absolutely that and I couldn't have been more pleased. I worked on Christmas Eve which I didn't mind at all. My youngest daughter did too although I think she would've preferred to have had the day off.
When I got home I got busy and set the table with our lovely holiday china and the new gold flatware I got this year. Then it was time to start our usual Christmas Eve supper of clam chowder, garlic cheddar biscuits and a nice green salad. Normally after dinner we would drive around and look at Christmas lights. This year we decided to stay home and watch A Christmas Carol and relax.
Christmas morning I was up early as was my oldest. I started coffee and some dough in my bread machine. Half the dough was used to make cinnamon rolls and the rest for dinner rolls. Once my youngest was up we open our gifts and my girls spoiled me rotten. I got embossing folders and more dies, a clock that has a barometer, moon phases and a thermometer on it, reusable produce bags and candles. My daughter's boyfriend got me some scrapbook papers which I thought was very thoughtful.
The girls got each other some lovely gifts as well, but the gift that shocked and surprised them the most was a vintage aluminum pot I found for each of them on eBay last summer just like the one I have. The girls have squabbled, playfully, over who will get that pot when I die. They love my pot and we use it to cook many, many things. We even take it camping with us. So when I found a couple of them on eBay for a price I was willing to pay I jumped on it.
I also filled them up with towels, pot holders, dish cloths, oven mitts and scrub sponges. My oldest was thrilled because she has been wanting to make chicken and dumplings but doesn't have a pot big enough to make it in. My youngest was happy because she has one for when she moves out on her own in the not too distant future.
Along with the pots I got them other things on their wish list too. My oldest has wanted a set of hot rollers forever and my youngest is very artistic so watercolor makers were something she has been wanting.
NY Strip steaks, grilled shrimp, salad, scalloped potatoes & rolls
We enjoyed the day with Christmas music and good food and played with our "toys". Sadly, my oldest had to go home after supper because she had to be at work the next day. After she left we finished off the day by playing Uno and a game of Scrabble. Then it was off to bed for a good nights sleep.
A simple Christmas with time well spent, classic Christmas music, easy to prepare meals and gifts that we all appreciated and know we will use for a good long time. It was a very good holiday. How was yours? Please feel free to share in the comments about your day.
Monday, December 28, 2020
My last thrifty post for 2020 and it almost makes me sad. Almost. The truth of the matter is I am very much looking forward to 2021, not unlike a lot of people, and I have very high hopes for the year ahead. But the reality is I am going to just take it one day at a time. If 2020 taught me nothing else, things don't always go according to plan, not that I am complaining at all. However, I will continue to prepare and hope the best for our future and be present and enjoy each day in the meantime. Every day we have is precious.
Last Sunday I was very much present and enjoyed the day in my craft room sorting, organizing and making a gob of thank you and Valentine's Day cards. I found it very calming and therapeutic, even the sorting and organizing part. I was very happy in my little crafting zone.
|My Cash & Carry haul|
That same afternoon the young one and I made a quick trip to Cash & Carry to pick up a few items and that was the extent of any grocery shopping that needed to be done. When we got home I finished up a load of laundry and made a few more cards. Then it was time for supper and we watched a movie afterward. Pretty quiet day for us.
Monday my oldest came home for Christmas. I was extremely happy to have both of my girls home for the holiday. Since my youngest had to work that evening the oldest and I got busy and dipped pretzels which completed all of our co-worker gifts we needed. I had picked up the dipping chocolate last year on clearance and recently grabbed a bag of pretzels at the grocery store for just over a dollar. We dipped pretzels and visited for a couple of hours. Some we left plain and others were decorated with sprinkles (purchased last year on clearance) I had in the cupboard.
I had some Christmas treat bags in our gift wrap stash that were part of a thrift store grab bag I bought for a couple dollars about two years or so ago. They were brand new and still in their original packaging. We dipped a lot of pretzels and still had a quarter of the bag left as well as half of the dipping chocolate. For about $2 we had more than enough pretzels to put in nine of the little treat bags and give out. I put the rest of the dipping chocolate up in a sealed bag so we'll have plenty to use again next year.
Tuesday morning I took my treat bags in and passed them out to my co-workers and the girls passed some out to their friends. It was nice to be able to spread a little bit of Christmas joy.
|Homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing|
Christmas Eve and Christmas day were wonderful and I will share more details tomorrow including the gifts that I had made up for my girls that have had me all excited since summer. They LOVED them! They were also very surprised.
I finished off the week the same way I began by spending a the majority of Saturday organizing my craft supplies, including some new ones I got for Christmas as well as making more greeting cards. It was a cold, wet and rainy day so it was nice to stay inside and work on my little projects.
I did take a break and go to an antique shop where I purchased a milk glass lamp shade to replace one that had been broken for awhile. Our kitty Stella swiped it with her tail one day and sent it sailing. This one is heavier so I think it will be much harder for her to do that again. I hope so anyway. I think the new one is prettier anyway and I'm very happy with it.
How was your thrifty week?
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
I did a super thrifty and super fantastic upgrade in our dining room a few weeks ago. Our dining room chairs were in need of some attention. The upholstery was starting to wear and was looking pretty shabby. We've had our parsons chairs for six years now and they have been well used during that time. Our dining room gets a lot of use, especially now with online school. It has been a homework center for ages, now a classroom and when we have guests it is the place we all seem to like to sit and visit. We eat there too! We are a family that gathers to eat meals at the table and I love that.
I took advantage of a Cyber Monday sale on Amazon and picked up a set of parson chair covers for less than $20 with no expectations as far as quality or durability. The reviews on them were top notch so I felt it was worth a shot. I love these chair covers!!!
They fit like a glove, look like and feel like upholstery and the material these are made of is thick and durable. Plus they are washable. I couldn't be happier. And I spent less than $20 for the entire set. These come in a variety of other colors too so I am contemplating buying another set so I can change things up from time to time.
Since our chairs are still sturdy and the cushions are still cushy it made perfect sense to me to give a set of slipcovers a try and I am really glad I did. Super easy to put on and they stay put without twisting or sliding. I am really impressed and I love the new look they give our dining room.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
I had worn the seat out of my favorite red flannel pajama pants. I probably should've given them up last year, but I wasn't ready to let them go. I also have a couple bath towels that are beginning to show their age and are starting to look pretty ratty. I decided to take one of those towels and convert it into some much needed cleaning rags.
Initially my plan was to cut up the towel with scissors and zig zag the edges with my sewing machine to help minimize fraying. But then I had the idea to reuse my pajama pants to make rags too. The flannel was a bit too thin but if I paired it with the terry cloth towel….. hmmm.
So that is what I did. I used my homemade pattern from when I made cloth napkins and cut out four squares from the bath towel. Then I slit open the pajama pants at the inseam and was able to get four squares of flannel. I used a 1/4" seam allowance to stitch a flannel square to the terry cloth square leaving an opening. After trimming all four corners I turned them right side out and top stitched along the edge to finish them.
Only one problem! I think they are too pretty to actually use as rags.
Along with the rags I used scraps leftover of the towel to cut two rectangle pieces the same size as my mop head to make a homemade Swiffer pad. I stitched the rectangles together at the edges then added three rows of stitching down the middle to hold the pieces together nicely and prevent them from twisting.
|This thing works great!|
Next I placed two strips of the widest elastic I had across each end to hold it onto my mop. To finish it off I added matching seam binding I had in my stash. I am horrible with seam binding, however I do think it turned out quite nice. I think I may make myself another one too as this was a much easier project then I thought it would be. I also have more of that towel to use up . So what to do you think? Time well spent?
Monday, December 21, 2020
I cannot believe Christmas is only a few more days away and I'm super excited about it too. Yay! Santa is coming! Ha, ha, ha. Or is that HO, HO, HO? Anyway, I had a lovely thrifty week last week and I hope you all did as well.
To begin with I started off my Sunday by doing some meal prepping, which I've not done for quite a while. I wanted to use up some things in the fridge so I didn't have them go to waste as well as make our busy week ahead just a little bit easier. For the young one I made a small tuna casserole to use up some leftover rotini I had in the pantry as well as some veggie fried rice to use up leftover vegetables I had in the freezer and fridge. I made myself some keto meal of teriyaki stir fry with chicken and used up leftover carne asada and a couple low carb tortillas I had in the fridge as well as some leftover salad mix for a couple tacos to take to work for lunch. Leftover cole slaw mix and kale as well as some Asian dressing and sliced almonds became a salad to go along with everything. It was a delicious way to begin our week.
I made two batches of cookies. After filling up our cookie jar I put the rest into Ziploc bags to take to work and share with my co-workers. I made white chocolate cranberry cookies and a the "Andes" Candy cake mix cookies. It was snowing outside too while I baked so it made for a perfect afternoon in the kitchen.
Using craft supplies I already had I made a new ornament for our tree. It's Jack! I've made one for every kitty we've ever had. My daughter pointed out we have a lot of "dead" cats on our tree. Sadly this is true. Most of them are memorial ornaments now. But still very cute!
It was a crazy and rather heartbreaking week as we all arrived at work on Monday only to learn that one of our fellow co-workers had passed away over the weekend. A week after knee replacement surgery he had a blood clot kick loose. That same day our beloved boss announced to us that he has decided to take early retirement. His last day will be January 8th. Needless to say we were all reeling just a bit with all of this. But as a team we are strong and we will carry on.
The COVID cases continue to stack up and a co-worker on my team will likely be out the remainder of the year as her daughter tested positive on Tuesday. The rest of us are hopeful she hasn't shared with the rest of us, but at this point we all know anything is possible. We wash our hands, wear our masks and do all the things that are required of us, however I don't think it really matters in the long run. Eventually this virus is going to run its course. Some get it, some don't, some get it bad, some don't and in some cases it takes a life. It is the strangest virus with little rhyme or reason to it. I pray we see the end of this pandemic very soon.
Instead of focusing on all of that however, I am looking ahead and staying the course. Christmas is coming and I'm so very excited about it. We had some snow flurries last week and it has definitely been cold, wet and wintery around here lately. I'm wondering if we'll have a white Christmas this year. I sure hope so.
I sold some more Christmas cards from my Etsy shop. Yay! I have plans in the works to make more to sell in the next few months too. Once the holidays are over I plan to get back to my card making.
This past week I have been on a bit of a mission to use up little odds and ends of things we have in our pantry, fridge and freezer. I was able to tailor our meals around all of these items. It feels really good to see them used up and no food waste. The chickens got all the food scraps and I even saved some beef fat to make them some suet cakes for Christmas.
Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:
Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - vacuumed & mopped floors. Daily swish & swipe.
Dining Room - vacuumed & mopped floor.
Kitchen - vacuumed & mopped floor, cleaned and reorganized inside of all the drawers, cleaned the base cabinet fronts.
Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted. Daily swish & swipe.
Other - one large load of laundry, vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & entry, mopped entry floors.
How was your thrifty week?