5 Frugal Things {how I’ve saved money this week}

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

I apologize for the blog silence over the last few days. I haven’t been the greatest at pre-writing and scheduling my blogs posts. I’ve made it a priority for the next few weeks, so hopefully I will be chugging out useful posts more often.

frugal lifestlye

How I saved money this week

  1. Our grocery bill this week was a whopping $2. The pantry, freezer, and refrigerator are chock full after this Easter weekend. (We have 3 Easter dinners to hit, and each family sends us home with leftovers!) I may have to make a last minute grocery run for a few things towards the middle of the week.
  2. I talked about this HEREbut Little Daisy’s Easter basket fillings were practically free thanks to  a giveaway from Hannah over at Eat Drink & Save MoneyI got all of this for about $2 out of pocket: frugal shoppingApparently the Easter bunny in our house hands out M.D.’s 😉
  3. I made a huge batch of cowboy caviar to take as a covered dish to two of the Easter dinners. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so no money out of pocket. Recipe for this is coming soon 🙂
  4. We sourced 12 free buckets from my workplace to be used in our container gardening efforts this summer.
  5. We drank coffee at home all weekend, are steadily bringing in side hustle money and have not accrued any more debt.

Budget Fail

On Friday evening, we went out for my best friend’s 30th birthday. We budgeted about $50 for the evening to include food and drinks. Well…the margaritas tasted a lot better than I had imagined they would and our bill somehow ended up being $87. I take full responsibility, but it was so worth it. We had a blast.

What are your frugal successes and frugal fails for the last week?

Getting Out Of Debt: Here’s How to Start

When my husband and I stopped ignoring the fact that we were in six figures of debt and decided to do something about it, we jumped right in the express lane with no plan whatsoever. Our strategy worked for a few months as we haphazardly put extra money here and there on different debts with no real rhyme or reason. The balances slowly started to decrease, but then we hit a wall.

We got disorganized, tired, and lost our motivation. Why? Why did this concept that seemed so simple end up running aground?

Benjamin Franklin said it best,

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

We hadn’t taken any time to lay a solid foundation, set realistic and achievable goals, or truthfully analyze our situation. Naively, we thought that things would just somehow work out.

The rest of this post can be seen over at The Frugal Farmer where I am a guest poster today!

Miscellany {5 things style}

Yesterday I mistakenly stated that I would have a guest post up on The Frugal Farmer. I’m not sure what I was thinking, because it will be up Monday, April 10. I’ll blame it on mommy brain 🙂 

5 Frugal Things

  • I scanned my CVS Xtra Care card at the in-store kiosk for some coupons. I received a $1.50 off a laundry detergent purchase and there happened to be an off-brand (I’m not picky!) for $1.47 making it FREE.
  • We experienced some torrential rain late last week that resulted in a roof leak. Although we rent, renting from family means that we take care of whatever repairs we can. Mr. Daisy climbed up in the attic and realized the leak was coming from the chimney. We had some goop (I have no idea what it’s actually called) so he patched up the leak in a matter of minutes. There will be no long term damage since we handled it immediately and it cost us $0.
  • We have been diligently composting our coffee grounds, produce scraps, and paper. Even Little Daisy is in on the fun!
  • I sold a few items that have been up on eBay for a better part of one month. An extra $75 in our account got transferred directly to savings. (In my post from yesterday, I talk about how we are focusing on savings rather than debt repayment over the next few months)
  • I packed and ate lunch at work all week (which is HUGE for me), drank home-brewed and work-brewed coffee and tea, did not have to purchase any Easter eggs (thanks to Little Daisy’s grandmas) or a basket.

5 Things That Are Making Me Happy

  • The Duluth Trading No-Yank Tank(I’m not affiliated, but hit me up Duluth!) This tank top is the bomb. The price is extremely reasonable when compared to the quality and performance of the product. I have curves, and my tank tops are constantly riding or I’m pulling them down so that I don’t resemble a plumber. These tank tops do exactly what  they say they’ll do. Whether I’m working in the garden, throwing bales of hay, helping a cow give birth, or simply cleaning my house…these bad boys stay put. They’re soft, breathable, have the perfect amount of coverage, and hold up well. I have 4 of them, that’s how much I adore these tank tops. Mr. Daisy raves about their button down shirts, t-shirts, and outerwear also.

work clothes

  • Although I don’t appreciate that random winter storm that hit us last night, I can appreciate the beauty:
snow storm
                                I love the way fresh snow looks on tree branches.
  • Prior to this snow storm, spring had sprung here in the Great Lakes region. With spring comes babies! Baby pigs, baby cows, and baby chickens. Little Daisy is getting her first dip into the spring farm lifestyle and she’s soaking it all in. Here’s some proof of spring:
Gardening
                                                   Little Daisy helping haul compost.

 

crocus flowers
                                                                Crocus flowers
  • Another thing I’m loving that could have been included in my 5 Frugal Things is a contest I won on one of my favorite blogs! Hannah over at Eat, Drink, and Save Money offered a $50 gift card to a really cool website called IncrediBundles and I won! I picked out items for Little Daisy’s Easter basket that only cost me $2 out of pocket. Here’s what I got her:
  • Lastly, I’m loving that my mom and I just planned a girl’s day getaway for her and I later this month! It will be nice to hit up some museums a few hours away and just bond with her.

What are you loving this week? Do any of them cross over into the frugal world?

 

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March Budget Report {with actual numbers}

My original ambition for starting this blog was to share my family’s real numbers and real budget as we strive to climb out of 6 figures of debt. This is my monthly budget report post in which I do exactly that. Please be kind and non-judgmental as I make something as personal as finances a public affair. 

monthly budget

I can’t believe that we are already in April! It’s crazy to me how some days seem to drag on forever, but then bam! We’re at then end of another month. Which means taking another hard look at our family’s spending and saving for the month.

The theme for this month was Budget Setbacks {which I wrote about HERE}. There was a broken cell phone, vehicle repairs, and that blasted “Other” category. We were $1267.16 over budget for March. Ouch. We were set to have $1700.00 in surplus had we stayed on budget. At our monthly budget meeting this month, Mr. Daisy and I made some changes to our budget categories and a huge commitment to altering some spending habits.

Below you’ll find my easy-to-read snapshot of our monthly budget. It is comprised of 3 categories: Budgeted, Actual, and Results. I fill in the Budgeted at the beginning of the month, enter data in the Actual twice each month (mid-month check-in and end of the month), and the Results column is designed with formulas to easily show us if we were over, under or on budget and by how much.

monthly budget
March 2017 Budget Report

Budget Fails

There is a lot of red in the Results column. Here’s the breakdown on the major snafus:

  • Cell Phone: $175 over budget. My phone completely died on me, woh woh. This $175 covers the cost and shipping of a replacement.
  • Vehicles: $484 over budget. I touched on this in the Budget Setback post, but Mr. Daisy’s truck was in dire need of some maintenance. I hate to think what this would have cost had we been required to take his truck into a shop and pay retail for parts and labor. I’ll have to jot this point down in my gratitude journal because it surely could have been worse.
  • Household Misc: $64 over budget. Mr. Daisy sprayed the yard for fleas and ticks, we purchased a new shower head, and replaced the rest of the light bulbs in the house with LEDs.
  • Groceries: $69 over budget. This isn’t too awful considering that I included our personal items (soap, detergent, shampoo, etc) in the grocery category this month. To get a better feel for what we’re actually spending on food, I am going to break personal items out into its own budget category for April.
  • Entertainment: $80 over budget. Mr. Daisy went paint balling with some of his friends, we bowled in a tournament, and got ice cream a few times with Little Daisy to celebrate that spring has finally sprung here in the Great Lakes region! Money well spent in my opinion 😉
  • Spending cash$60 over budget. There’s no real reason for this one other than I got a little ATM happy this month. Next month I am going to attempt to track what I spend that cash on because for the life of me I have no idea where it went.
  • Other: $450.00 over budget. Yuck. There were several culprits in this category. Lunches out, dinners out, clothes, wedding shower gifts, other wedding items, and stuff. Stuff that was not vital and completely unnecessary. I didn’t budget it into the Oh $hit category because it wasn’t Oh $hit stuff that came up.

Budget Successes

There is some light at the end of this $1200 over budget month:

  • We were under budget on pet food. My mother in law had some dog food that her dogs didn’t like and it happened to be exactly what we feed ours. Lucky coincidence.
  • Somehow, we were under budget by ~$50 on fuel. We got creative with some fuel perks at our regional grocery store and maybe we just didn’t drive as much. Not sure.

Moving Forward

Like I said, April is going to hold some changes for us in regards to our budget and spending habits. Here are the 5 major action steps for April:

  • We are going to pay ourselves first. Rather than waiting to see what we’ve spent and what’s left at the end of the month, we are going to transfer a set amount of money to savings prior to the spending commencing.
  • We are placing a larger impact on savings vs. debt repayment for the next few months. While we do have some savings put back for an emergency, we both decided that we need more of a reserve. Normally, I would have thrown that $580 remaining after expenses onto a debt. We are going to hold off on extra debt payments until we get an additional $2000 in savings. We set a goal of having this completely by July (which should be simple with Mr. Daisy’s overtime picking up)
  • We are splitting and adding some budget categories.
    • The grocery category is going to include only food. We are going to add a Personal Item category to capture shampoo, conditioner, deodorant etc. I will put detergents, cleaning supplies and the like in the Household Misc. category.
  • I am going to track my spending money. I’m a bit ashamed that I have no idea where my spending money went, which means that it went to unimportant endeavors.
  • We are going to baby step our way into implementing a cash budget for variable expenses. Starting with Entertainment in April, we are going to start using only cash much like Dave Ramsey touts.

Although this month did not go anywhere near what we had planned, I am thankful that we didn’t go negative. (We do have a reserve amount that kept in our checking account because $hit can and will happen)

Monday, I will share more details about our plan for April. Tomorrow, I am so excited to say that I will have a guest post (my first one!) up over at The Frugal Farmer. Laurie has some exciting stuff going on over at her blog for Financial Literacy month so be sure to stop by and check it out!

How did your finances pan out in March?

 

You can follow Dirt Road Daisy on Pinterest HERE

Related posts:

Budget Setbacks {& how I handle them}

Mid-Month Budget Check-In with Actual Numbers

Our Monthly Budget with Real Numbers

 

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DIY Taco Seasoning {and a recipe to use it in!}

I’m not on my frugal high horse with this homemade DIY taco seasoning. I know that taco seasoning packets aren’t going to break the bank, they cost like $0.69. But, by making this spice blend I am not contributing to senseless packaging waste and I know exactly what is in my spice blend. No starchy fillers here.

homemade taco seasoning

The following recipe will fill a 3 oz glass jar. I used these nifty little jars that I found on clearance. You can use virtually any type of container, just make sure that it is air tight!

 

DIY Taco Seasoning

3 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried oregano

I combined all of the spices in a small mixing bowl and stirred them together really well. I also gave the jar a good shake once all the spices were in.

So, now you have this delicious homemade taco seasoning. What are you going to use it for (besides tacos, obvs)? While I was sick last week, Mr. Daisy made this delicious One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet that the entire family loved! It’s basically like a homemade version of hamburger helper. What I really love is that it is a one pot, 30 minute dish. It’s even quicker to make if you prep your meat ahead of time! I have successfully used rotini and elbow pasta in this recipe.

One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet

INGREDIENTS

1lb ground beef, venison or turkey

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of black pepper

3.5 tbsp of our homemade taco seasoning (or 1 packer store bought)

2 cups water

1 cup salsa

8 oz uncooked elbow or rotini pasta

~1.5 c shredded Taco style cheese

Optional toppings: cilantro, fresh tomato, sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

(Skip 1-4 if you have prepped your meat already)

  1. Preheat a deep skillet (a lid will be needed!) over medium heat.
  2. Add ground meat and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook thoroughly.
  4. Drain grease.
  5. Add and stir in taco seasoning, follow with the water, salsa, and pasta noodles.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Stir well, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until the pasta is tender.
  9. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese.
  10. Season and top with additional toppings if preferred.

This recipe tastes just as good as leftovers the next day! If you’re looking for a new, fun, quick & easy recipe to add to your arsenal – this One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet will fit the bill!

 

This week in frugal food {what we spent & what we ate}

I apologize for the blog silence over the last week. I came down with what my doctor diagnosed as viral pneumonia. {Truth be told I don’t care what it’s called, it was awful.} I was laid up for 5 straight days and am just now starting to feel like myself. If it wasn’t for my meal prep last Sunday, we would have likely eaten takeout all week. But since I had food prepped and ready to go, Mr. Daisy took over dinner duties when he got home from work each night. So – back to our regularly scheduled programming! 🙂

frugal shopping frugal meal plans

Last week’s roundup

You can see our meal plan from last week HERE and I am so proud to say that we stuck to meal plan every night except one! Because of how awful I was feeling, I didn’t get around to throwing ingredients in the crockpot for vegetable soup. Instead, Mr. Daisy cooked up some turkey paninis for him and Little Daisy and I made myself some Ramen.

Weekly frugal shopping trip

Little Daisy and I made our way out to do some grocery shopping today while Mr. Daisy worked in the garage. We spent $67.04 at our regional retail chain and $11.22 at ALDI. I mentioned in last week’s post that I had been avoiding ALDI due to how incredibly packed it is. It was no different today, there were only 4 carts left! But, the prices again reminded me of why I need to suck it up and just do it. The prices make it worth it. For example, Mr. Daisy loves to have pretzel rods with chip dip as a snack. Pretzel rods at the regional chain store are $4.59 for a rather small bag. At ALDI, a large tub is only $3.49. Sliced Muenster cheese at the regional store is $2.50 for 10 slices, and $1.89 for 11 slices at ALDI. Some other great deals at ALDI this week were $0.29/dozen eggs, $1.04/ gallon of milk, and the everyday $0.99 spices. However, the regional store had an amazing stock up deal on bread, $0.50/loaf! I bought 6 and plan to freeze most of the loaves. I’ve never froze bread before, so here’s to hoping it works out. If it doesn’t, I’m only out a handful of change per loaf. I’m over budget by $20ish, but I’m not stressing about it too much.

If you’re interested in a detailed list of what I purchased this week, you can find it in pdf form here: Frugal Shopping Trip April 2 2017

I also snagged some FREE laundry detergent at CVS this week with a coupon, yay!

Weekly frugal meal plan

Breakfast: Nothing out of the ordinary here. I made some blueberry muffins that we’ll work our way through for breakfasts and snacks.

Lunches: I’ll be taking leftovers when they’re available or make a big salad with some lunch meat. Mr. Daisy will take his normal packed lunch.

Dinners:

Monday| Pork shoulder roast in the crockpot

Tuesday| Family dinner at my grandfather’s (not my week to cook, yay!)

Wednesday| Cornbread chili casserole

Thursday| Breakfast for dinner

Friday| Homemade chicken nuggets

There’s not much meal prep on the horizon for this week’s meal plan. I moved the pork shoulder from the deep freezer to the fridge to defrost, cooked up 1 lb of ground venison for Wednesday’s casserole, and made the blueberry muffins.

What’s on your meal plan for the week? Did you stay on budget shopping?

Weekly Frugal Meal Plan

I’ve decided to change things up a bit and talk about what we spent and are planning to eat in the beginning of the week. If I lay my frugal meal plan out here for everyone to see, there is a better chance that I will actually stick to it. Fingers crossed!

frugal shopping frugal meal plans

Weekly Grocery Trip

On Sunday I spent $85.52 at the grocery store and accrued $.60 in fuel perks. Mr. Daisy ran his truck over later that evening to fill up for a whopping $1.20/gal. Full disclosure, I haven’t made it to ALDI the last few weeks. It’s just too. damn. crowded. I truly love the efficiency of ALDI, but I have zero patience when it comes to cart traffic. I don’t have the option of going shopping in the middle of the day or at other potential slow times. I’ve tried everything…Saturday mornings as soon as they open, Wednesday evenings an hour before closing…but to no avail. I don’t browse through the grocery store. I have my list and I know what I want. I’m afraid you’ll see me on the news for reckless operation of a cart 🙂 So, that’s why my grocery bill has been a bit higher than normal. I have no doubt that this grocery trip would have been more around my goal of $50 but I just wasn’t in the mood to battle the crowds.

No grocery picture, sorry! So, here’s a quick rundown of what I purchased. I put it in a pdf so that if you’re interested, you can click and read it. If you’re not interested, I haven’t wasted any extra blog space for you to scroll through .

Shopping 032617

Weekly Meal Plan

Breakfast:

Mr. Daisy eats Clif bars each morning on his way to work with his coffee. I can get them for $1/bar at a regional chain store. That’s not too frugal, but in comparison to him running through a drive-thru each morning, it’s definitely frugal. I’ll take the $5/week breakfast over a potential $20-$30/week.

We are fortunate that Little Daisy’s daycare provider feeds her breakfast each morning. If she’s up especially early one morning I will give her a piece of toast while I get ready for work.

For myself, I alternate between peanut butter toast and maple brown sugar oatmeal. With coffee of course. Both of these tend to hold me over until lunch so I’m not itching for a snack at 10am.

Lunches:

Our predominate lunch expense is with Mr. Daisy. He is unable to re-heat leftovers or have a hot lunch. Most of the time he will eat right in whatever equipment he’s operating (not while in operation, though). He alternates between egg salad, tuna salad, and salami sandwiches. He also packs some chips or pretzels, cashews (which are not cheap!), Gatorade, and some sort of snack. It reminds me of a lunch your mom would pack you in 4th grade, but it works and he’s not picky. Little Daisy of course eats at her daycare and I always try to bring leftovers to avoid food waste. However, there are times when I get restless and need to leave my desk. Once per week I’ll use some of my weekly spending cash and grab lunch out (usually meeting with my brother’s girlfriend).

Dinners:

Here is our weekly dinner plan:

Monday| Breakfast sausage and cheese quesadillas with rice and black beans

Tuesday| Family meal at my grandfather’s. It is my week to cook and I am making a big batch of baked spaghetti.

Wednesday| Crock Pot vegetable soup with grilled cheese. I have a love/hate relationship with my slow cooker, but that’s a post for another day.

Thursday| BBQ shredded chicken sliders with a veggie side.

Friday| We have bowling league this night. I’m sure we will have leftovers from the week, so we will try to eat some of those up.

Saturday| We are going to experiment with our new smoker on Saturday. I think my husband is planning on smoking a wild turkey breast, so we will have that for dinner!

Sunday| We will pick through the fridge and try to gobble up leftovers to reduce any food waste.

Meal Prep for the Week

In order to spend as little time as possible preparing dinner after work (and more time with my family!), I try to do a bunch of meal prep on Sundays. This saves in cooking time as well as clean up time. This week I spent only 45 minutes doing the following:

  • cooked up 1 pound of ground breakfast sausage for Monday’s meal
  • cooked up 2 pounds of ground beef for Tuesday’s baked spaghetti
  • boiled 4 chicken breasts for easy shredding for Thursday’s meal
  • moved the wild turkey breast from the deep freezer to the refrigerator to thaw for Saturday
  • I have a small basket on the counter full of Mr. Daisy’s lunch items. He is NOT a morning person, so rifling through the house getting his lunch ready is not the way Mr. Cranky Pants wants to start his day. So, on Sunday we pre-portion out his chips, cashews, and fill his basket with his other items so all he has to do is grab what he wants and go.

That 45 minutes is time well spent in my eyes because it leads to more time with my family during the week.

I’m hoping to calculate a cost for each meal because I am curious to know, maybe you are too! I didn’t intend for this post to be so long, sorry 🙂 I will update you next Sunday on how well we stuck or didn’t stick to plan!

Do you meal plan or prep food for the week? Why or why not?

What We Spent | What We Ate {still on budget!}

Although we had a crazy busy week with dance rehearsals, recitals, and broken vehicles; we managed to stay on budget and eat from home. Hooray!

What We Spent

This week’s grocery trip was $95.00. Although it is much more than my budgeted amount per week,  we *should* come in right on budget. This week’s shopping trip included several toiletries and household purchases like toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, shampoo, deodorant and so on. Moving forward, I think I’m going to break the budget down into a few more categories and be more specific about what is spent on food vs. household items vs. personal items so that I can visually see what is being spent on each. What do you think?

grocery haul
This week’s cart. Groceries this week included household and personal items, lunch-y items for Mr. Daisy and items for a big family dinner this weekend.

What We Ate

Sunday 3/19: I spent a few hours doing some food prep for the week ahead. I have no doubt that this is what saved us from ordering take out while we were running around everywhere. I made some venison meatballs (so yummy), cooked 2 pounds of ground venison, and boiled chicken breasts to shred. Mr. Daisy threw a venison roast in the crock pot when we woke up that morning.

Monday 3/20: We had dance rehearsal and photos, so we didn’t make it home until about 7pm. Little Daisy and I ate some granola bars on the way to rehearsal and Mr. Daisy had packed a larger than normal lunch. When we got home, I pulled the pre-made meatballs out and threw them in a skillet with homemade pasta sauce while I pre-heated the oven. Once the oven was pre-heated, I quickly assembled some meatball subs and baked them for 10 minutes. We had green beans on the side. Quick and easy and definitely wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t prepped.

Tuesday 3/21: It was Little Daisy’s first ballet recital! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little bit. Again, we got home around 7pm and Little Daisy was whooped. I made her a PB&J with some grapes on the side before she collapsed into bed at 7:30. I had some Ramen and Mr. Daisy made macaroni and cheese. It wasn’t the healthiest, but I prefer it over going through a fast food drive-thru!

Wednesday 3/22:The day that the dreaded budget setback reared its head. While Mr. Daisy was out in the shop diagnosing his truck, I made some angel hair pasta with leftover meatballs from Monday’s meal. Served with garlic bread and some peas on the side.

Thursday 3/23: On Thursdays, Little Daisy usually spends time at my mother-in-law’s with her aunts and baby cousin. Mr. Daisy and I used what was left of our weekly spending cash and stopped in at our favorite local restaurant. We had wings as an appetizer, Mr. Daisy had a huge hamburger, and I had a chicken wrap with their delicious homemade potato chips.

Friday 3/24: Today we will be running around getting the parts that are needed for Mr. Daisy to work on his truck. I’m not sure what our plans are for dinner. If we eat at home, it will be something quick and simple like a tuna melt.

What was your week in food like? I’d love to hear about it

*I am attempting to grow my blog audience to foster a community of like minded people to engage in thoughtful and fun conversation.  If you like what you read, please consider sharing this post over social media, it would be greatly appreciated!*

 

Budget Setbacks {& how I handle them}

When it comes to planning and organizing, I am 100% Type A. You should have seen our first budget as a married couple; there were pages and pages of categories and formulas and colors. It was too specific. Because of the specificity, our first budget failed. Big time. I was trying to be far too precise and particular about tracking our money and telling it where to go. For example: under Little Daisy’s category, I had 5 budget lines. Why does an infant need 5 budget lines? I was also trying to track every transaction as it occurred. I would be checking our online banking at least once each day. You know what happened? I got tired, burnt out, and pissed that my day was now revolving around our money.

Fast forward 3 years and several other budget system fails: I’ve created a much simpler, visually pleasing, and easy to navigate budget. Even my free-spirit husband doesn’t mind sitting down to our  weekly and monthly budget meetings. I still tweak it each month because life happens. Our daughter is getting older and we are hitting different milestones and seasons of life. Just like the world around us, our budget is a living thing. It evolves with the ebbs and flows of time. We have the quick weekly check-ins, the mid-month check, and the “big” end of the month/beginning of the next month meeting. Less is definitely more when it comes to our budgeting style.

The Budget Setback

But just when you think you’ve got said perfect balance and your system is flowing perfectly…BAM! In comes the budget buster! Crashing through your wall like the god damned Kool-Aid Man. Not just a $50 buster that you forgot to budget for. But a $600 vehicle repair that was most definitely NOT in your plans.

Mr. Daisy has been worried about his transfer case for about a month. We knew it was going to need replaced eventually. He crawled under yesterday and in his words, “It’s puking fluid. Needs fixed now.” But as he was under there he also noticed that the front ball joints were in bad shape, the water pump needed to be replaced, and might as well throw in the wipers while we’re at it. Before our balanced budgeting days, I would have had a mini meltdown any time something popped up that I hadn’t accounted for.

Now that I’m in my budget-Zen mode, I take a few breaths and look at the bright side:

  1. If we had to take his truck to a shop to get repaired, this would easily cost us well over $1200 with parts and labor. Mr. Daisy is a mechanic so no labor costs and we have the wholesale hookup on parts through my Dad and brother’s businesses, so no crazy marked up parts prices.
  2. Daisy’s truck will get him from point A to point B safely.
  3. I enjoy working on vehicles with Mr. Daisy. One of his 5 Love Languages is Quality Time and he appreciates when I take interest in something that he’s doing. (I would prefer that it didn’t cost $600, but I digress).
  4. We can afford the costs of repairing his truck and we can afford having two vehicles. We are fully aware that this type of setback would cause other people in other situations much more grief than it has caused us. It will not affect our ability to put food on the table, get to work, or disrupt our daily lives and we are grateful for that.

It is natural and automatic to immediately compartmentalize unplanned and unfortunate setbacks into the “The Sky is Falling” category. It’s something that I did for a really, really long time. I would get frustrated and give up on budgeting and gaining control over our finances. It was difficult for me to see that light at the end of the tunnel and still is sometimes. If this would have been a $3000 repair, I would have panicked. No doubt about that. In my struggle to become more calm and Zen with our budgeting and finances; I am trying to teach myself  that much (if not all) of life is about balance. It’s about understanding which situations require calmness and which require an intense approach. Does this small thing really require an argument with my husband? Does the plant that Little Daisy accidentally knocked over validate me losing my patience?

It’s nothing groundbreaking on how I handle budget busters and life setbacks in general. I attempt to find and keep stability, get back up from whatever set back it is, notch it in my brain for future reference, and move on. It may require creative tweaking in next month’s budget, but life will go on with or without me pouting about something. There’s no room for hostility towards something I cannot control when there’s an adorable three year old asking me to play Candy Land with her.

What types of budget setbacks have you encountered? How do you handle them?

5 Frugal Things {how I’ve saved money this week}

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

frugal lifestlye

How I saved money this week

  1. We have a busy week, so I spent Sunday doing some meal prep to reduce the likelihood of grabbing dinner out. I made meatballs for subs on Monday, cooked up 2 lbs of ground venison, and a few pounds of chicken breasts. Cooking ahead like this also minimizes the amount of time that I will spend cooking after work. Instead, I can spend that time with my family. Win!
  2. Rather than pay a ridiculously high amount for Little Daisy’s dance photos ($30 for a few 5×7’s and a button!), I am taking them myself, printing with a coupon from Shutterfly, and sending them to family in Easter cards.
  3. Our huge local children’s consignment sale is coming up. Even though I’ll be spending money for Little Daisy’s summer clothes, they will be affordable and second hand.
  4. We’ve started to thrift and scrounge for cheap (free) containers to do some container gardening in this year. Our tomato plants completely took over our garden last summer and hogged all of the sunlight. We are going to try container planting them this year.
  5. We ate at home all weekend and are still under budget for groceries for the month. Rather than dumping half full glasses of water down the drain, I’ve been watering plants or topping off the dog’s water bowls.

    What frugal things have you been up to? Let me know in the comments!