Frugal Living

Frugal AprilOne key to building wealth, retiring early, becoming financially independent or being debt free is to spend less than you make. Being frugal is one way to do this. Always look for bargains, DIY plans, free things…anyway to cut back really. Some of my favorite FP gurus even go to the extreme of using only two tanks of gas a year. I so admire them, but to be honest, I’m more of a “fringe frugal” type of person. I always look for deals, won’t buy clothes unless they are on sale and basically spend less on some items so I can spend a little more on quality items. What I do like to do is continuously challenge myself to save money or spend less. It makes getting out of debt fun!

So, for the month of April 2016, I’m doing a “no restaurant month.”
My pledge…

    1. I will not spend any of my own money in a restaurant or bar. It’s okay if someone (other than the husband) takes me to lunch or happy hour.
    2. I will take my lunch to work everyday unless there is a work sponsored (paid for) occasion.
    3. We will cook at home.
    4. I will say no to happy hour. <—this will be a challenge.
    5. I will use this page to chronicle my progress. 🙂

Click here for a summary of Week One

Day 8: April 8, 2016
Today I was off of work and made a half batch of Paleo Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup from the cookbook Paleo for Beginners. My husband is currently on the Paleo diet, and I recently found this book on Amazon with great recipes. Although Paleo is typically an expensive diet, this soup is relatively inexpensive to make. The half of the recipe is…

Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup
1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup zucchini, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 (4-ounce) can roasted, chopped green chiles
1 (8-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chilies (I use Rotel)
2 cups of organic chicken stock
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded (I’ve used rotisserie or canned chicken)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the onions, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic and cook until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and heat to simmering. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve.

I find I can make a batch of this, and eat it several times. Plus, it’s a great soup for lunch. Enjoy!

Day 9: April 9, 2016
Today was Saturday and filled with Saturday type things. Cooked breakfast at home (we used to go out) and had ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. Worked out the yard cleaning up leaves and pine needles for about four hours filling 24 huge bags (the entire box) and had grilled short ribs for dinner.  We’re finding it easier, and easier to do no-spend.

Day 10: April 10, 2016
Breakfast again at home, bacon and eggs. Chopped up some bananas and strawberries before they went bad. Another sandwich for lunch…and leftovers for dinner.
Fruit Bowl

Day 11: April 11, 2016
Monday…brought a packed lunch from home, ham & cheese sandwich, baby carrots and left over banana/strawberry fruit salad. Read the newspaper for lunch and found this great recipe for pimento cheese. I’ll share it someday. For dinner, we had leftover rotisserie chicken, sauteed squash and mushrooms. Overall, I didn’t spend any money today on anything nor was I hungry once. It was a win!

Day 12: April 12, 2016
This is seriously getting easier and easier. I took my left over spicy chicken soup for lunch and for dinner we had chicken on the grill with brats. I’ll be taking the extra chicken breast with me to lunch on Day 13. I had somewhat of a temptation from an over-spending friend asking me to happy hour. I said no with a reaction of “why not?”  and my answer of we have dinner planned. She’s the type of friend who wouldn’t understand my challenge for the month…she spends mindlessly on things like clothes and booze. Not me, I have better things to do.

Day 13: April 13, 2016
Well, they say 13 is an unlucky number. I had to purchase something for lunch. I took one of the chicken breasts as leftovers for lunch…and that’s all I took to eat. I began to get a headache. My only solution was to spend $6.52 at the cafe in our building. Two lessons-first, I didn’t plan well and got of track. Second, getting off track shouldn’t be the end of doing something good. Just because I “swerved off the road” doesn’t mean “I have to hit a tree.” So like cowboys say…”back in the saddle little missy.” For dinner we had smothered pork chops with mushrooms and onions.

Day 14: April 14, 2016
Today was an extremely unique day…and I didn’t spend a dime. For breakfast we had a going away breakfast for our Intern at work. I ate huevos rancheros and didn’t need to eat again until dinner. Speaking of dinner. We had a gallery talk with snacks and wine. Then went to another location for work where it was a food type benefit with all-you-can-eat bites…filled up there.

Day 15: April 15, 2016
Had a very early start and unfortunately skipped breakfast. For lunch I had a leftover baked pork chop and for dinner we had homemade fajitas. Really low-key for a Friday.

Day 16: April 16, 2016
Snowy day today. We had breakfast (bacon and eggs) and tuna for lunch. For dinner we had baked butter shrimp…so delicious.

Day 17: April 17, 2016
Again had bacon and eggs with cinnamon toast. I had to work during lunch, so I had some snack-type things and then for dinner we had steaks on the grill.

Day 18: April 18, 2016
Brought my lunch to work. My old standby…tuna and greens. For dinner we had a Chinese chicken dish I whipped together. It was an Asian veggie mix from Wal-Mart, chicken, mushrooms and cashews. It turned out really well.

Day 19: April 19, 2016
Banana and cashews for breakfast; leftovers from last night for lunch and a tuna fish sandwich for dinner.

Day 20: April 20, 2016
Banana and cashews for breakfast again; tuna sandwich for lunch and work happy hour for dinner.

Day 21: April 21, 2016
Skipped breakfast; tuna and salad for lunch and brats for dinner.

Day 22: April 22, 2016
Breakfast was a smoothie, lunch was a ham sandwich brought from home. I’m feeling like my food choices are getting repetitive so I made tacos for dinner tonight.

Day 23: April 23, 2016
Grocery shopping today and made $1.50 back on Ibotta. The husband cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast; I had another ham sandwich for lunch and we had shrimp for dinner.

Day 24: April 24, 2016
Homemade breakfast burritos; ham sandwich for lunch (these are getting old) and steaks for dinner (these are getting old too).

Day 25: April 25, 2016
I can tell by my one line updates that I’m ready for this challenge to be over. I feel like my creativity to cook something amazing has vanished…and it’s just the same-old-thing. I had cashews and cookies for breakfast; lunch was a tuna salad; and dinner was another ham sandwich with chips and salsa.

Day 26: April 26, 2016
My mother-in-law came to town for a visit. For breakfast I made breakfast burritos, for lunch I had a vendor meeting, and for dinner she took us to my favorite German restaurant. It was a great treat!

Day 27: April 27, 2016
Breakfast burritos again; leftovers for lunch and steaks on the grill for dinner.

Day 28: April 28, 2016
Burritos again for breakfast; work lunch; and homemade enchiladas for dinner.

Day 29: April 29, 2016
I was off of work today. Snacked for breakfast; hamburgers on the grill for lunch and more snacking for dinner.

Day 30: April 30, 2016
Bacon and eggs for breakfast and tacos for lunch. Chicken breast, rice and black beans for dinner.