Welp, here we are again. Can you believe October is coming to a close already? Fall, by far my favorite season, is slipping away too quickly as usual. I hope you are savoring campfires, toasty apple cider (and cider doughnuts!), pumpkin-carving festivities, and the rich colors of autumn.
Today, I’m just stopping by to share a few of this month’s successes and slip-ups. Changing our default to make smarter money decisions is not going to happen overnight. It’s an ongoing journey, and we need to acknowledge what we could do better and what we rock at.
Let’s start with the negative stuff.
- Food budget = much higher than I’d like (as in, I stopped keeping track about halfway through because we were already way over!). Finding myself returning to my old default of stocking up on items, not planning ahead, and all that jazz.
- We spent a chunk for a weekend getaway to Wisconsin. (Background: Mr. COD was there last month to spend some quality time with his dad and wanted to give me and the boys a tour since he loved it so much.) We paid for gas, two nights in a hotel, and a few meals out, plus the $11 for a state park day pass. We felt it was worth it, since we are serious about moving next year. Even though the odds of Mr. COD’S next job being in that exact location are low, it’s important to be able to visualize what we want from that move and any subsequent moves. This will help keep us excited about it once we’re in the midst of packing, cleaning, purging, painting, job hunting, and all that jazz. Remembering the majesty of Devil’s Lake and its area will help us get through these less-fun aspects of moving.
Now for the positives.
-We got the boys slightly used shoes and pajamas from the thrift store for much less than new ones. For little kids, sizes can change so quickly that it just doesn’t make sense to buy brand-new.
-Scored some free leafy greens and herbs from the community garden at the school down the street. My kids won’t touch vegetables other than carrots and French fries, but Liam trotted over to the garden one night when we were playing on the school slides, grabbed some dinosaur kale (like, the darkest green thing on the lot), and stuffed it in his mouth. Proclaimed it “delicious”. (What?! I tried it; it was bitter and far from delicious.)
-We’re making a lot more of our food at home. We’ve been working on this for a couple of years, but I’m loving the chance to cook more since I’m not working away from home. Although I am hardly spending hours on end in the kitchen, I can find a few minutes here and there throughout the day, which is easier than trying to cook at the end of a work day. I can do a lot of the prep work ahead of time and throw ingredients together when it’s closer to mealtime. (In case you’re wondering, Mr. COD does a lot of the cooking, too. Be jealous, ladies!)
Homemade Foods We’re Enjoying
- Bread. Amazing artisan bread from a super easy recipe. Love it! Once my friend the cooking teacher straightened me out on water temperature for the yeast, it’s been smooth sailing. No bread machine required, either. Another one I adore is this sandwich bread recipe.
- Marinara. My first attempt at homemade and it turned out pretty tasty! I used Giada’s recipe from the Food Network, but it seems super versatile and easy to adjust with additional veggies or spices.
- Delicata squash pizza boats. Yum! Now if I could only get the munchkins to try it, that’d be a double win.
- Baked French toast (there are umpteen recipes on Pinterest). My latest kick…a perfect use for slightly stale bread. The above bread recipe makes two loaves, of which we can eat about one and a half before it gets stale (yay, no preservatives!). The remaining half loaf is ideal for cubing and soaking overnight in egg-milk mixture. I’ve made a basic version as well as a pumpkin and apple varieties. Yum!
- Beans. Yep, just cooking up a big batch of them and freezing them in smaller serving sizes to use later for tacos and soups.
-This has been an incredible month to be a SAHM. The weather has been soooo gorgeous, so the boys and I have been able to get outside nearly every day. Half a dozen playgrounds are within walking distance, so we save on gas and I get to run or walk before/after play time. Lots of free, healthy entertainment!
-Halloween can get crazy expensive, right? Candy and costumes and decorations and parties abound. The COD household is not all that big on the holiday for those aspects; we’re happy eating a few Kit-Kats and watching Shaun of the Dead after the kids are asleep. (And we’re pretty devoted Walking Dead fans, but man, after the season 7 premiere I’m still reeling.)
We are keeping Halloween fairly frugal. I purchased one large bag of candy at Aldi for $7.50 to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Some years, I confess, I’ve just left the front light off so nobody would knock on the door. But I think the boys will like passing out treats to the neighborhood kids after we’ve finished our brief rounds outside.
We don’t really decorate for Halloween, in equal parts due to laziness, indifference, and frugality. Our front step looks rather forlorn with its lone pumpkin, but I finally carved a face in it today. Score!
Our costume situation is sweet: Liam, our threenager, gets to sport a dinosaur suit passed down from his cousin. God bless my sister-in-law for preserving and conserving so many clothes for us and our nonexistent (at that time) kids. He wore that thing for probably two weeks straight back in August when we brought it home (yeah, it had to be washed after some 90-degree days). He loves his dinosaur costume! Lucky little Caleb gets to wear a lion costume, the same one his bro wore the past two years. I did buy that one, and it was 15 or 20 bucks at Target, on sale. Three years running, so I’d say we’re getting plenty of mileage out of it! We already took advantage of the library’s Halloween parade, in which kids walked around the shelves in costume, collecting candy and little treats.
All in all, October has been pretty great. Frugal slip-ups have the power to cause us headaches, but if we keep a close eye on them, we can acknowledge mistakes and do better next time! Our frugal wins (and yours) should also be recognized because they can encourage us in our next steps. Nothing buoys success like prior successes.
What are your recent frugality wins? Tell us in the comments and we’ll give you a virtual high-five!