So, PHEW! What a whirlwind series of events with the sidewalk/erosion/rain garden! The total for that whole….thing….came to just about $6,500. Not anything at all that we planned for this year!
Our aggressive budget changes have proven effective, I am happy to report. We have replenished the emergency fund, paid off the electronic gift credit card balance and the lawn mower credit card balance, and are managing quite happily with reduced expenses. We expect to have another vehicle paid off within a year, as well as the loan for the erosion work paid off early. AO#2 expects to pay off what he owes us for the 0% credit balance for truck repairs, ahead of schedule, and he makes timely payments on the truck loan, so there’s no problem there.
A few months back I conducted freezer and pantry inventories, and found I had more than enough foodstuffs to last two months, with the addition of fresh produce and dairy. Well, we’re still working through some of that inventory. And, yes, I have purchased more as the grocery budget has allowed; I found it difficult to stay within the food budget, but applied other unused funds to that. I have frozen some bargains and free items, but am judicious in how much I am getting. I have surprised myself with my restraint in not buying some bargain items (because I already have 20 meals worth of chicken breasts, thank you) and in finding ways to use others in creative ways (creamy cauliflower soup in the freezer for next month). I made refrigerator pickles with a gifted cucumber….eh. I found less expensive hair and skin care options for us, and they work great. The point is, we have been able to still live abundantly with tighter budgets. Sure, it would have been nice to go out to eat, or to a movie in a nicer theater. But honestly, we weren’t lacking in any way. We’re now able to “lighten up” on the budget reigns just a little.
Before The Very Big Hole happened, I was addressing a myriad of smaller, frugal fixes around the house, one of which was the dusk to dawn light bulb solution. The experiment with one exterior light fixture went very well. Last week I purchased three more and installed them in the other fixtures. $18. There were interesting results. The sensors are all aimed the same direction. Sunlight comes around the corner of the garage, hitting the fixtures at different times. But by that time (afternoon), the sun is already high in the sky, illuminating the neighborhood and reflecting off the street, driveway, etc. So I am confused as to why two of the bulbs turn off sooner than the others; they are not even adjacent to each other. They do eventually turn off, but it’s well into the afternoon when that happens. I’m not sure if the bulbs are defective or what. I have set aside some late morning time this week to examine that better. I do still have the packaging and the receipt. They were nearly $6 on sale this time, so, yeah, I saved all that.
The Next Thing. I meant to this summer trim the river birch that is starting to grow over the gutter line. I didn’t think that sapling would grow so tall in such a short time, either! This summer has been uber hot, then uber rainy, and then the other issue drained my brain and my body. So next week when it cools down a bit, I plan to bring the pole trimmer into the master bedroom, hang out the window, and cut away! I got gutter screens at Menard’s last week (rebate for full purchase price on the way), and we want to get those up across those gutters by the end of October. They’re the same kind we have on the gutters near the crabapple tree, and those work pretty well. $2 for yard bags.
After that, we’ll be getting the yard prepped for winter (cost of yard bags and ibuprofen). Lots of trimming, redistributing clay soil, bagging, tying bundles, etc. And after THAT, I have some inside projects to get started on. But I will leave you with this picture from 17 years ago. We still have the plants, and while we missed the monarchs for a few years, they are back in big numbers! They are camera shy, but we enjoyed some of them on the plants outside the kitchen window during dinner the other night.
Right now there are giant bushes behind these plants, and they don’t allow these to grow and bloom this nicely. Those bushes get cut way down very soon. You try different things, right?