Saturday, May 31, 2014

Field Trip -- To the Farmette We Went!

Regular readers of Frugal Upside will likely remember the times I have linked to a fellow blogger.  Many of the posts on The Other Side of the Ocean parallel my frugal ways or illustrate my frugal aspirations.  The author once taught me concepts of family law at the University of Wisconsin Law School.  Now, through her blog, images, and today's field trip, she is teaching me the finer points of gardening.  At some point today I saw some ad that said "Growing your own food is like printing your own money".  Yes, it is a frugal move. It is also a health one, and one that is kind to the earth.

Today's lesson was on creating a raspberry patch.  With her's running over, the author of Ocean is selling canes on Craigs List.  The kids and I emailed in advance (essentially so that Orea the Rooster could be comfortably settled away from the feet of wee ones), and made the short drive to the farmette.  We were greated with a friendly hello, five canes, and a tour of the grounds.  We met Isis the intrepid cat, and saw the entrance to Martha the groundhog's abode.  It was confirmed that bats are an ideal way to control mosquitos (note to self, we must install the bat house I bought last year).  And thanks to the prompting of our son, we learned that the mushrooms sprouting all around our garden, and her's, are fine.  "Don't eat them, but they do wonderful things for the plants and soil" said my teacher.  Finally some points on raspberries.  They needs lots of sun.  That explains why the canes that came with our house grow, but do not produce much fruit.  If the transplants wilt, which they may because it is late in the season to transplant, trim them down and wait until next year.

This evening I dug five holes on the south side of the house, one that was taken over by weeds last year.  We now have a raspberry patch on the west end, followed by a mellon plant, then then rhubarb we were given last year and some garlic.  Our efforts to turn that part of the house into a perennial vegetable are coming along nicely.  Motivated by the ad I saw about growing your own food, I am looking forward to season after season of slowly turning our suburban lawn into a patch of earth from which a portion of our summer meals are gathered from.

Thanks for reading, and here are a few pictures of the evolving yard.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Frugal Introduction to Karate

As our son closes in on his 6th birthday, the phase of parenting called "driving to lessons" has begun.  We did not take the typical approach of many contemporary parents these days -- at nearly 6 he is in his first set of "lessons".  Many begin as young as 6 months!  From a child development perspective children do not "learn" much before age 5 or 6, so we saved time, money, and our mental health by avoiding the class circuit.

However, it was time to begin exploring more of life.  And karate was his choice.  We knew this, we thought about it, and then one night my husband and I were at a fundraiser gala.  There sat a bit sheet for $500 worth of karate lessons.  My winning bid of $100 was frugal music to my ears.

We took a chance, not knowing much about the venue, location, etc., but it paid off.  The center is near our home, lessons are twice a week for 30 minutes each.  Focus is on respect, discipline, health, and not rah-rah fighter man aspects of karate.  We may or may not sign up for more lessons, but for now we have a summer of karate.

As a parent I feel it is my duty to show my children the world.  Thus, I do not want a child to be too narrowly focused before he/she is in middle school.  This season it is karate.  Next it might be swimming or yoga or music.  But I can guaranty that I will shop around, use coupons, and avoid the "high pressure" techniques of companies......and the other parents who set the stage for "keeping up with the Jonses" when it comes to lessons.  Life is short, focus on what makes you happy -- that is the message I want our children to enter adulthood with.  That, and a soundly funded college fund thanks the the frugal and savings minded parents.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Over the Fence....

Feeding the Curb Karma paid off over the weekend.  While in the backyard with my daughter I heard our neighbor (who is also a 3rd or 4th cousin) shout out my name "Melinda, can the children use these?"  And there she stood with two adorable children's chairs.  "Why yes, they'll work well in their rooms!"  Which they did.  Our daughter uses her's to play school with her lovies, and our son has a new seat at the Lego/Puzzle table in his room.  I will never understand why so many people complain about the cost of children.  Agreed, child care, quality care, is pricey.  But from clothes to toys to furniture it is possible to raise a child with buying little to nothing if you are open to reusing cast offs from an older generation.  After nearly 6 years of this approach to life I am happy to report our impact on the earth has been minimal and their college funds are robust.  That is the upside of frugal living.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Payoff from Delay

Months after its release, our family of four finally saw The Lego Movie today.  Many may think that the movie has come and gone, but it showed up at our local budget theatre.  Being a long weekend, we had some extra time and opted to take the kids to see a movie in a theatre.  At just shy of ages 6 and 4, this was the second time we've gone to the movies.  We do not watch a lot of movies, and the ones we do are either free DVDs from the library or on Amazon Prime.

Today our delay paid off.  Total cost of admission was $10 for the four of us, and we splurged with popcorn and a soda for the adults, adding another $10.25 to the bill.  A huge savings when compared to a cousin of mine who saw the film with her family when it first released, paying for the huge Imax screen, with a total of about $75.  Today, delay paid off.

We enjoyed the experience but are not likely to repeat it soon.  The movie was a bit too much for our kids -- too much hype, too much violence, etc.  That will be nice for our budget, health, and planet earth.  The size of a soda was mind boggling.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Feeding Positive Curb Karma

Since venturing onto the frugal path of life back in my late 20s, curb karma has played a key role in living well on little.  Curb karma is when something you want/need appears on the curb, left by one who no longer needed the item.  From furniture to baby clothes to gardening items, we have been blessed by curb karma.  And in an effort to feed that cycle, I am employing Craigs List to give away items from my mom's house.  It is a win win for me -- keeping items out of landfills, avoiding the fee of professionals hauling it away, and hopefully allowing others to live well on less.

Today's offerings include dated garden tools and supplies as well as automobile items.  If you are a reader and are local to Madison, help yourself!  They are outside the garage at 1121 Valley Stream Dr., in the Green Tree Neighborhood on Madison's West Side.  Feel free to spread the word, and may your day be frugal!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Reflections and a Frugal Use of Rhubarb

So, I've missed a few days of posting here on frugal.  Some days time runs short and the need for sleep trumps the need to write.  Yet, I am still living as frugal as is sustainable these days.  Balancing a legal practice, my husband's growing engineering business, a marriage, two young children, and the emptying of my mother's home combined with daily necessities -- time is my greatest commodity.  As such, I am making decisions based on what is the best use of my time, not necessarily money.  I will pay for ease and for a little pampering here and there.

Thursday night I received my first pedicure.  The package, for four, was purchased by yours truly a few weeks ago at a silent auction.  It was a night out, a bit of pampering, and a much needed use of my time.  The price tag probably wasn't what some would call frugal, it was at a full-on salon, not a beauty school.  But the next day I had a little more bounce in my step and was far more productive at work.  Time -- be frugal with it as well!

Today featured a swim, a few hours at my mom's where I said "take it if you can use it or sell it" aware that anyone willing to haul away items would save me both time and money.  In a few weeks a company will come in for the heavy lifting -- literally.  The basement is full of non-functional relics.  Once home it was chores around the house with the kids while my husband was at his office, in fact, where he still is as I type.  Frugal living allows us both the ability to be our own bosses, which creates a lot of freedom.....and sometimes long days.  The kids and I tackled with lawn with our push mower, watered the perennials and vegetables, and then watched a DVD on loan from the library.  All in all a quiet day on a busy holiday weekend.

I'll close with a link to a post I did last May, which includes my recipe for Rhubarb Compote.  It freezes well and tastes delightful on oatmeal during the long cold winter months here in Wisconsin.  Check it out if you are harvesting from your own garden or eyeing it at a farmers' market stand.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dandelions welcome in our frugal yard.....

Some people spend money for pesticides to rid their yard of dandelions.  Others devote hours to digging the pesky little weeds from their lawn.  Both frugal with our time and money, we allow the dandelion to live out is life in our yard unbothered.  We save money.  We save time.  We prevent chemicals from harming the environment.  And I've read, but cannot confirm, that these Spring "flowers" provide food for bees.  Anyone know if that is true?  The dandelion -- consider keeping it, and you just may find beauty and joy in this simple plant.  Above is one of my favorite images of our son, then age 3, snapped in our backyard.  The upside of a frugal life!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Frugal Child's Play

A favorite book of mine is I Love Dirt, which provides 52 ideas on how to get outside and play with kids no matter the season.  Today, after sleeping in to fend off a harsh Spring cold, I took to the yard with my daughter for some gardening.  We literally dug into the dirt. For longtime readers of the blog you may note a change in casting, my gardening partner this summer tends to be our daughter.  Last year it was my son.  Her desire to copy my every move has propelled her to shun her high maintenance tendencies.  Our son has sprouted a significant fear of wasps, and is avoiding the garden.  I hope to see that fade over the summer, but for today it was my daughter and I outdoors planting a rainbow.

Peppers, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, onions and strawberries ready to grow!

It was also a day of memories.  We are adding many pots and bird feeders that once graced my mother's yard.  The sting of her absence hits me most in my garden, she always found the strength to walk around with me to see what flowers we were planting.  Before selling her home later this year, I hope to dig up and transplant some of the many perennials I will always associate with my mom.  And in that process forge new memories with my own children.

If frugal living appeals to you, and there is a young child in your life, considering gardening.  Give them a hand shovel and a specific place to dig.  They'll fill water jugs and sprinkle where directed.  Challenge them to find ways to reuse materials in the garden, from flower pots to bird feeders, items can be given a second life. Kids marvel at what lies beneath stones, and they'll likely cause you to slow down yourself and smell the roses.  It's good for their health, good for the earth, and not too harsh on the pocketbook.

 Transplanted rhubarb, gift of UU friends last summer.....and it's back for another year of giving!

Crock holding flower was my mom's.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How Much Is Enough? Your Frugal Question of the Day.

Ever feel like you are drowning in "stuff"?  If so, ask yourself, what is enough?  Today I found an article in my Facebook Newsfeed about an airline ticket that costs $32,000.  The author asks how much luxury do you need? And I'd like to extend that to all of you -- what do you really need?  An excellent question when you are faced with the onslaught of inexpensive, throw away products that have become so prolific in modern America.

Cleaning out my mother's home after her death and being responsible for the same task for a client through my legal work has focused my efforts on the unnecessary in our home.  One day, hopefully decades from now, someone will be charged with finding my belongings a new home.  Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?  Why pay to house stuff that means little and might one day be used, or not.  Remember, space costs money.  And I would rather put my money towards life experiences and high-quality food than items.

If you are with me on this path, here are a few things that I have found helpful in keeping the clutter and piles of stuff at bay:
  • Find a preschool type program at your library, place of worship, neighborhood school or preschool.  I am amazed at what those littles one an their teachers can do with trash.  Below is a photo of my discarded Thank You card box (purchased to thank those who honored my mother at her memorial) reappearing as a cash box at the monthly bake sale.  Designate one box in your home to place discards, drop it off weekly or monthly, and give new life to items you do not need.
  • The above mentioned places are also a great place to direct unwanted kitchen items -- from utensils in their kitchen to pots and pans in the sandbox, the creativity is limitless.
  • Discontinue subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, etc.  If you cannot do this, then donate them monthly to senior centers or libraries.
  • Give it away.  Tonight the crib my daughter used for nearly 4 years (3 as a crib, 1 as a day bed) is going to the home of a fellow UU.  It will be used for visits the family expects from twin nieces that joined the family.  I did not bother attempting to sell a crib on Craigs List -- a time consuming and not very profitable move.  Instead we passed on the generosity we received from others, pay it forward!
  • Donations to thrift stores.  I prefer Savers where I receive a coupon for 20 to 30% off my next purchase.  That amount is far more than what I received at consignment stores.  Or just take the tax deduction if you itemize.  Caution -- empty your pockets or cushions first.  I also saw a story today about 3 college kids you found $40,000 in a $20 used couch they bought at a thrift store.  A man had used the couch as a bank, died, and his widow donated it never knowing.  Amazing story, and a good reminder to check those pockets. 
  • Borrow instead of buy.  From books to music to movies, turn to your library or friends instead of a store shelf.
  • Go digital whenever possible.  In my work world paper still matters, but for many items digital is the way to go.  For example, all of our recent tax returns are digital.  Back-up, back-up and never trust a government or financial entity to keep the forms -- they can and do loose them.  But digital is a great way to reduce paper.  Just remember to keep the format up-to-date.......anyone remember floppy disks?
That is all I have for now.  Post a comment if you have another idea or story to share.  Thanks for reading, and have a lovely and frugal weekend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Think You Are Frugal? Ever Order An Urn Off of Amazon?

Yes, I am so frugal that I ordered an urn for my mother's ashes off of Amazon.  In fact, I think it was Amazon Prime, meaning I paid no shipping.  With the click of a few keys I made my selection and directed it to be delivered to the funeral home.  Did you know you could do that? Did you know you would pay about 1/3 of the prices at a funeral home?  Because my work days are spent as an estate planning and probate attorney I did thanks to a book I once read about funeral consumer rights.  On average we will plan one to two funerals in our lifetime (I am 40 and have already planned two, one for each parent).  Informed would be an accurate adjective for me in this area.  It is possible to direct order an urn or even a coffin and have it delivered to the funeral home of your choice.  And it is one way to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Thankfully I never had to worry if my parents would have cringed at such behavior, just the opposite, they would have been proud of my thrifty ways.  It was a family tradition.  If you have thoughts on ways to save at funerals or memorials (I have more, they'll show up eventually) please share.  To leave a comment click on the word comment below, sign in, and hit post when you are done composing.

Monday, May 12, 2014

National Geographic's Smart Travel Book.....Note Quite Frugal Enough

It was a library book, one that left me so unimpressed that I wanted to make sure it was returned today on the due date and avoid any late fees.  That tells you what I thought about the book.  I'm certain it is fine for someone, just not this someone.  The one gem I took from the book was to always get three sources to verify a review, do not trust one opinion.  Nice journalistic approach, and a nice reminder.  The only problem, what one person likes I may not.  The book was worth a quick thumb through, but not one I would purchase and keep in my own reference library.  I've learned more about frugal travel by reading a fellow bloggers blog, The Other Side of the Ocean.  Take a look if you want a true frugal approach to travel -- beware, she hikes, shops at farmers markets and avoids anything touristy while travel.  If Disney World or a cruise applies to you, then so might How To Be The World's Smartest Traveler (and save time, money and hassle) by Christopher Elliot - National Geographic Travel Expert.

And now off to the library before it closes!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day in a Frugal Home

Once again, the gift of the day was time.  Time spent together, tending to our home, our garden, sharing meals.  No rushing off anywhere.  No fancy clothes or brunch out.  A husband fixing breakfast, lunch thrown together from leftovers, dinner from the crockpot.  Simple, easy, healthy.  That was the day in this frugal home.

I did venture out for a solo errand while my husband and kids finished putting together the futon that is now our daughter's big girl bed.  The garden center was my destination.  Missing Johansen's which went out of business last year; the plants were of amazing quality, excellent selection, and a place I remember going with my mom as a child.  Both the store and my mom are gone......heavy heart as that reality seeps in.  I did return home with some pepper plants, geraniums, marigolds, a melon plant, purple cabbage and a few pansies.  Mother's Day was largely spent it my kitchen and the garden, surrounded by my wee ones.  No other gift matters.  Although the handprint butterfly and painted mug the childrens' preschool helped them create this past week brought tears to my eyes.

Looking ahead on the calendar we also purchased plane tickets for our trip to Seattle later this year.  We made either a very frugal decision or a crazy one.  Saving more than $200/ticket (or $800 for those doing the math) we opted to get a direct.....from Minneapolis.  The hard part is getting into the car, not a four hour drive to the airport said my husband.  A four hour car drive to save the money and avoid changing planes and potential mishaps with a by then 6 and 4 year old in tow was worth it.....or so we hope.  A car reservation was made, priced against another deal once it showed an additional $150 in fees, and so we are trying something new.  Stay tuned for details and how it husband took the lead on the car rental.

That's it for now from this frugal home.   No pictures today......I'll get some up of the garden soon.  Now I'm off to read bedtime stories to the children.  Yes, actual books.  We have shunned the ipad/tablet use in our house, and when recently exposed to one both said "it was neat, but kind of boring, we love hearing you read".  Sigh and a relief, those things are not inexpensive.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Recipe for a Frugal Birthday

Looking for a frugal way to celebrate a loved ones birthday?  Follow our steps as we celebrated my husband's last year of his 30s:

  1. Enjoy nature.  While the kids were at school, we hiked around an amazing Wisconsin State Park, Devil's Lake.  In fact, we went there on his birthday the first year we met.  Happy times!
  2. Make homemade birthday cards.  Yes, I still have plenty from our daughter's Rainbow series, featured here earlier in the week.
  3. Cook dinner at home. Once the kids were in bed it was time to stir fry pork and veggies served with soba noodles.
  4. Bake the birthday dessert (in this case it was oatmeal chocolate chip cookies).
  5. Give the gift of time and nothing else.  When you are both self-employed and you both take a day off from work, it means something.  Time was given today, not one single tangible gift.
Being efficient with time, I'll close with two photos from the day.  Remember, the gift of time is far more valuable than anything you'll find on a shelf.

 The other half of this frugal home, my husband!

Dinner in progress!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Frugal Life, A Healthy Life

A favorite frugal meal graced our table tonight.  Chicken black bean soup and whole wheat corn muffins. Baking at the moment are oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which will be served tomorrow in place of a birthday cake for my husband.  He does not like cake, but adores my homemade chocolate chip cookies. Thankfully I increased the portions while cooking, allowing me to set aside muffins, soup and cookies to be delivered as a care package in the morning.  Earlier this week a friend (who is my age, married, and has two children of similar ages) underwent cancer surgery.  I signed up through and wanted to drop off something healthy.  I hope I hit the mark.

Frugal living has many upsides, one of which I bank on is that it will provide long-term health benefits.  Upon turning 40 another friend said "we've entered the decade of divorces and cancer diagnoses".  Sadly I see that happening to those around me on a weekly basis.  In my 20s and 30s frugal living allowed me to pay down $97,000 in student debt and then create a nice sized down payment on a house.  Frugal has been more about finances than health for me.  I sense that my motivation is beginning to shift.

If the soup sounds tasty, give it a try, it could not be more easy: 2 cans black beans, 2 cups broth, 1 jar salsa.  Mix and simmer.  I tossed in fresh cilantro, scallions bought at the farmers market today, and leftover chicken.  Simple, healthy, and easy on the budget.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Expanding A Garden Frugally

Followers of this blog know that over the past year or two I have been working to convert our lawn into gardens for perennial flowers and vegetables.  While I am frugal, I am not so frugal that I grow plants from seeds.  I simply do not have the time to put into those efforts, at least not now.  However, I have found a frugal way to add otherwise expensive perennials to our yard - nice people give them to me!  Last year an email to fellow UU members resulted in garlic and rhubarb, which have sprouted recently.  And yesterday I picked up 6 black raspberry canes from another friend who was giving some away.  Perennials come back, and they spread.  So, if you are looking to acquire plants consider a plea via social media.  You may find some wonderful surprises.  And I will close with the fact that I want pay forward this good karma, and will gladly offer some of the endless day lilies that are popping up all over our yard to anyone wanting some. Cheers, and happy frugal living.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Frugal Homemade Greeting Cards -- Meet Le Artiste

Mailing greeting cards in the mail is a pleasure I enjoy in life, likely formed during the four years I worked for a local Hallmark chain.  The frugal part of me cringes at the prices on most greeting cards, and that wasted they generate.  Thankfully I have an artist in the family, who at age 3 and 3/4s is more than happy to create away.

According to my husband, preschool drop off involves her making a b-line to the art table.  She brushes off his good-byes and gets started on "her art".  Hours later, when I arrive for pick-up, there she is at the art table.  Usually her hair is deranged, a pant leg askew, and from top to bottom there are smudges of ink, paint, glue, and the stray sticker clinging like a bug.  Her passion for creation does not end with the school day, but takes on a new phase at home.  It makes for the perfect compliment to my cooking creations.  Mama is at the stove, daughter at the kitchen table.

This is from her Rainbow series.

This weekend the medium was paint.  Combined with blank card stock (50 count, recycled paper, for $5.00) we are now set for upcoming birthdays and Mother's Day.  Lesson?  If you have a frugal child in or around your life, work with the creative energy to create homemade cards.  From cutting out pictures and gluing them to cardstock to tracing holiday trees out of huge school projects, the potential is endless.  And if you do not have a child artist in your life, but would like access to the creative art, let me know.  With two the amount produced is mind boggling.

Thanks for reading!  A frugal life is filled with joy, independence, healthy choices, and the comfort of living below your means.  We are always looking for inspiration, so leave a comment if you have an idea to share.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fun Filled Frugal Saturday

Some days you have to throw your original plans aside and go with the moment.  Originally I had planned to take the Honda in, with the kids, for an oil change.  Feeling the resistance to two preschoolers on a Saturday I decided to call and re-schedule the appointment.  The sun was out (finally) and a long list of indoor errands quickly evaporated.  

Following my lead, my husbanded delayed his departure to work.  He would stay with the kids while I made our monthly run to the large, yet frugal, Woodman's grocery.  The sun kept most of Madison away, and without the kids, I was in and out in under an hour.  At the core, I have a hard time paying two times as much for products I know I can get at Woodmans.  But it is not easy to get to, take time, and is more chore than pleasure.  I limit the trip to once a month, and usually coordinate with a networking event held on a Thursday morning.  Too busy of a work schedule blew my original plan, but here I was, stocking up on Spanish Rice, Asian Noodles, Fair Trade Coffee and breakfast sausage.

Riding my high of getting things done I opted to stop at Golde's Futon's.  The original plan had been to bring the kids with me, and afterwards do the Woodman's shopping.  But here I was, and I am delighted  that I changed the plan. Without the kids I executed a frugal purchase in under 15 minutes.  Monday evening her futon bed will be delivered for a fee of $55.  A basic pine frame and standard full-size mattress cost just under $300.  I guarantee, when we need new bedding (it is more than just futons) I will be visiting Joe here at Golde's.  The comments I received on my Facebook post (if you lived in Madison and needed a futon, where would you go? to which I received at least 6 pro-Golde's comments) delivered.  And now I am a fan -- shop here, they are the "last of the Mom and Pop stores".  Great prices, quality items, and excellent customer service.

In the midst of this shopping flurry I received a message from some frugal friends of ours -- were we still interested in going to Wollersheim Winery, located north of Madison.  My husbanded opted to skip out on work (the upside of being self-employed).  A few hours later the adults enjoyed samples of wine and brandy, we picked up two bottles, the limit; one for my husband's cabinet, the other a gift.  The kids climbed the hills like the little critters they are.  And fun was had by all.

At home there was a quick and simple meal, no take-out tonight.  Dad handled bedtime stories while I put my feet to use and walked to the Walgreens just south of our house.  The walk put a little more umph in my effort to be "more active", and I was able to pick up art supplies and photos we needed for the preschool this next week.

And that was our frugal fun with friends this Saturday.  How was your day?  Leave a comment and inspire (to leave a comment click on the "no comment" or if there are comments "3 comments" below; sign on to Google, etc., write and hit post).

Friday, May 2, 2014

Two For One Cones at Chocolate Shoppe!

Remember the Walmart Holiday commercial of a man, doing last-minute shopping, racing down the aisles swiping anything he could into the cart?  It was the mad dash during the season of chaos, and it is an image our frugal house is aware of and do our best to avoid.

But when you have two young children, two self-employed parents attempting to grow businesses, a dying mother of one parent and a law suit, one quickly finds his or herself in a persistent mad dash on a daily basis. Rationalizing the unfrugal behavior is easy given what life is throwing at you.  Plus most folks around you are not all that frugal themselves.  Give yourself a break, it was a common refrain.

Life cycles -- the chaos has subsided, lawsuit and deceased mother of the parent are part of the past.  And as Friday arrived on the calendar, this frugalista said no more to the frenzy.  A new routine had emerged over the past few months.   Friday at our house does not mean the end of a work week; one if not both of us has work over the weekend.  Tired and desperate for a break, I had turned to "take-out" on Friday nights. I cringed at the prices, and muttered after the meal -- often not that satisfying for any of us.  Tonight I said enough!

The day started with business development marketing, then came the client meetings, followed by the dash to the preschool to collect my children.  Take-out was not an option.  Instead I worked in a 20 minute walk to the grocery store next to my office building. Fresh pasta, sauce, and a container from the salad bar provided healthy and easy to prepare food for the evening meal.  Cost -- a fraction of take-out.

Mission accomplished as the children played at home.  Laundry of the weekend was started.  When my other half arrived home he enjoyed a quick meal, and we all headed up to the library and neighboring ice cream store. With coupon in hand we enjoyed locally made ice cream (the kids and I) and cookies for my husband.  Total cost of $6.22.

We're back into a calmer state, one that will nurture more frugal decisions.  All good for the budget, our health and the planet.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Staying Frugal - Free Continuing Legal Ed at the Dane County Courthouse

May 1st, which means it is both May Day and Law Day.  Here in Madison the courthouse held various events, of which I attended two fantastic continuing legal education seminars.  Seated beside me was my associate.  Were we thankful for the great coffee, informative materials, and the free cost.  Keeping overhead expenses low (we are both required to take 30 hours, each, of continuing legal ed every two years) so that we can provide reasonably priced legal service.  Free CLEs is one of the many ways I am frugal at the office.

There was a quick stop at Trader Joes and then around the corner to pick the kids up from preschool. Once home I turned some leftover chicken in Chicken Chili, and then headed out to dinner with my Book Club With a Twist.  Yet another great night of discussing recent reads (we talk about what we've read, there is no one book that we all read -- no pressure feels great) and how we find frugal books (free little libraries, regular libraries, gifts, thrift stores, etc.).

Home again for the night I turned to my phone to take down the five messages that had gathered in my flurry of afternoon activity.  Couched between client calls and a call related to my mother's estate was one from a Frugal Upside reader.  A smile spread across my face to hear the voice of someone who enjoys this blog, expressed sympathy for the loss of my mom, and asked -- how does one post a comment on your blog?  I took a look at the site, and I agree, it is not obvious.  Here are some tips, let me know if they work by leaving a comment.

  • Take the cursor to the bottom of this post and hover over "no comments" or if there are comments it will say "2 comments" (or whatever number of comments there are).  Hover, then click.
  • The screen should modify to a comment section.  Note, you need to be signed in via Google, Yahoo or another option.  Explore those options and use what fits.
  • Write your thoughts to share and then hit publish.
Thanks again for following my frugal path through life.  Frugal does not need to be dreary or a burden, but rather a liberating way of living -- good for your wallet, your health and the planet.