Friday, May 4, 2018

Frugal Fun No. 16 - I need help

Hey friends,

I haven't done a Frugal Fun post for a while because I've been feeling a bit defeated on the budgeting front.

Two main things have changed for us this year. The first is that Paul is now working four days a week instead of five in a fixed job, so his income has reduced. The second is that he is now getting paid monthly instead of weekly.

I haven't managed to get a handle on having a reduced income that only comes in once a month, and I keep running out of money before the month is up. Several times now, Paul has had to bail me out from the side business he is building. I really don't want to be dependent on this money because I'd like Paul to be able to reinvest into his business, not be paying household bills with his earnings.

All that said, I need to learn to live within our four-day-a-week income. Help! If you have any monthly budgeting tips for me, I would love to hear them.

Now, despite the general financial disorder going on around here, there have still been some frugal successes I'd like to share with you. I'd also love for you to share your successes with me, in the comments below or on Craving Fresh's Facebook page.

Here are my frugal successes, in no particular order...

My vegetable gardens.
I harvested several kilograms of tomatoes, kale, zucchini, beetroot, spinach, lettuce and herbs from my garden over the summer and discovered I love raw kale in salads. I always assumed I would hate it, and had never even tried it (shame on me), choosing to make cooked kale chips in the oven instead. Now it's so nice to have a fresh salad ingredient that grows really well in my garden.

My mother-in-law and I, enjoying a walk on the beach.
The kids and I enjoyed a relaxing holiday at my brother-in-law's bach over the April school holidays. We had family with us in the first week and friends with us in the second. I was so tired after a busy term one, that I just flopped. It was so good! But now I'm happy to be home and tackling projects again, feeling purposeful.

Freshly planted garden.
One of those projects was this deck edge garden. My pumpkins were ready to harvest when I got home from our holiday, so this garden needed replanting. I had been filling the garden up with all sorts of free materials, like seaweed, mulch, grass clippings and homemade compost, until the pumpkins sprouted from that same compost and I let them do their thing.

Even with all the free additions to the garden, it was still only half full, so I bought three bags of compost and two bags of potting mix this week to top it up. Into the topped up garden I planted lettuce and carrots. I'm not sure how well the carrots will do, because they need firm soil to push against, but I thought I'd give them a try anyway as they are a staple around here. The more we can grow at home, the better.

Homegrown pumpkin. 
Two of the self-seeded pumpkins reached edibility, and I cooked one into pumpkin soup for dinner. The soup was delicious and there was plenty leftover, which S has been taking to school in her Thermos Funtainer all week, along with some toasty soldiers for a frugal lunch option. Her Funtainer has done an excellent job of keeping her soup hot until lunchtime and she's had no issues with it leaking either, so I'm really pleased with this purchase.
Thermos Funtainers.

I stained our trellis to match the fence I had previously stained, and I love it so much. It's had instant impact on our property. I'm weighing up whether to stain the garden beds to match, but some friends have expressed concern that the stain might leach into the soil. Thoughts?

Chicken stock cooking.
As I type this, I'm cooking a large pot of chicken stock on the stove, using vegetable scraps and leftover chicken bones that I had saved in the freezer. I'll turn some of the stock into chicken barley soup for us to enjoy for dinner this weekend. S will then be able to take the soup leftovers to school in her Thermos next week. The rest of the stock I'll freeze for future meals.

I nabbed a great deal on potatoes from Pak 'N' Save this week. It was $7.95 for 10KGs. I had tried to get potatoes in my online Countdown order, but Countdown didn't have them available in the 10KG bags, and the loose option was something like $3.50 per KG. It would have cost me $35 to get the same quantity of potatoes from Countdown as I got for $7.95 from Pak 'N' Save.

Lately we've been enjoying out potatoes cut into wedges, with the skin left on. I dry the potatoes with a tea towel after cutting them (so they get extra crispy when cooked), rub them with olive oil and salt, and bake them in the oven at 200°C until they're golden brown - about 30 minutes. So good!

I've been experimenting with Countdown's online ordering system for the past few months to try and help me stick to my grocery budget. It does help with that, but I've had trouble sourcing all the things I need, and have had to pop out to other shops and vegetable stores to supplement my online order. That's frustrating, and I don't think I will renew my 6-month delivery code when it expires.

I passed another two Horticulture assignments and only have two more to complete before my course will be finished and I will have a Certificate in Horticulture. I spent several hours working on the second-to-last assignment this week, and hope to finish it soon.

As part of homeschool today, I'm teaching L how to make her favourite dinner, Asian Mince on Rice. She mixed up the marinade this morning and stirred it through the mince. Tonight I'll teach her how to cook it all up. Life skills!

I've signed L and J up for homeschool swimming this term, which is a lot more affordable than the lessons they were doing last term.

L and S are both doing club netball this season, and I've managed to get them into the same team. It means I will only have to drive them to one set of practises and games, saving on petrol. It also gave us a sibling discount, which saved us 10% on their fees.

I did some calculating and have set up a specific monthly automatic payment to pay off my Lasik eye surgery by December this year. My vision is still perfect thanks to the surgery, and I'm so glad I had it done, but I will also be very glad when the surgery is paid off. One less bill!

And I think that's all my Frugal Fun for the past few weeks. What frugal successes have you had?

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