Happy Spring! New Projects

Happy spring! 82 degrees on the last day of winter…whaaatt?! A harbinger of a hot summer, I’m afraid.

It’s time to plan projects for the next few months. And we have monkey wrenches already.

We had two major goals for this year: a bucket list vacation to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and addressing the retaining wall on the south side of the garage. Weeelll, wouldn’t you know it?

During a ROUTINE ANNUAL EXAM, a tumor was found, in my abdomen, which required major surgery to remove. I cannot stress enough the value of such exams. It had been two and a half years since I’d been to the doctor, and this thing developed during that time, with no symptoms! Sometimes we think since we’re feeling fine, our bodies are fine. But things happen when you don’t even know it, and the doctors’ jobs are to be aware and find these things while they can still be taken care of. It was ultimately benign, I thank God, but the size of a large, unripe pear. It and the obsolete organ it invaded were removed. There will be a scar, a very large scar. Which no one but my husband and me will see. I’m okay with that.

Without getting political, I have a pre-ACA health insurance policy, with excellent coverage, and my out of pocket cost will be quite manageable, although a big part of our savings. I know the dollar amount, and we are just waiting for the bills to roll in. I’m keeping track of the EOBs online. I have several weeks of recovery ahead of me, doing quite well, thank you. I am trying to learn to “be still.” I have more time to plan, less time to work, and less funds. Challenge accepted!

First of all, we’ve scratched the retaining wall project. My spidey sense is telling me it will cost much more than my marked up estimate. (I usually add 15% to what early research indicates.) While this does need to be done, there are also neighbor factors involved (they have their own issues this year), and more thoughtful planning required (electric supply lines run through the area). This is not something I want to tackle this year, especially since it would take several months from first calls to completion, and be angst-ridden the whole time.

My health issue brought to mind that our self-promised vacation should be a priority for us right now. Since we’ve already saved for it, even with the medical bills, we’re going for it. We may revise our itinerary a bit, but we’ve decided to go.

Meanwhile, the funds will grow for the retaining wall project, while this year we focus on more mundane and less costly maintenance. I will be using service professionals for most, if not all, of my projects this year. My body needs to heal, and the projects are very specific. Plus, I don’t have the equipment. Landscaping will probably not be a big thing this year, except for general cleanup. I’m still developing the list, and hope to get started implementing right after Easter. I’ll be back to share that.

What projects are you planning this year? How have financial surprises changed your list?


Replenishing Your Freezer — Last of This Week

When you’re replenishing your freezer and pantry after “eating down your freezer,” it’s great to encounter an incredible sale.  This Saturday, HyVee had wonderful deals in a 6-hour sale.  It was quite an experience.

I braced when I saw the parking lot so full.  There were limited spots in the incredibly huge lot, and I have never seen that, even right before Thanksgiving.   Inside, it was chaos.  But I had my list, and was in my Happy Place, so the log jams, pokey people and sold out deals didn’t really take a toll.   A friend told me later that she saw how crazy it was, and went to WalMart to price match, instead.  Very smart. 

Here’s the remainder of my list for the week, and what I got. 

milk (1) skim 6-hr sale HV .99
bread S. Lee honey wheat .99 HV C x 2
fruit! bananas .29/# HV 6 hr sale x 2.62#
Hormel pork shoulder roast .99$ HV  out of stock
store frozen OJ .88 HVCoupon Limit 1
FLand sausage 1# .99 (freeze) x 2
shredded cheeses .99 8 oz.  (freeze) x 6
store 1/2 gal ice cream 1.18 HV (store for holiday recipe) x 2
Total:  17.41
Grand total for the week:  60.73

So, for about 70% of my weekly budget, I’ve come away with some fresh, frozen and staple items. I’ve made some very thrifty purchases, repackaged some of it for easy fixin’, and have made more progress in replenishing my freezer.

This is just one week.  Next week will see different deals.  And the weeks to come.  There is no need to pay full price, and no need to overspend on prepackaged “food” all the time.

“But can you make regular meals from it?”  I certainly can!  Having eaten down your freezer, you know you can, too.  It helps that I have fresh and frozen vegs already on-hand.  But if I didn’t, there were plenty of veg deals this week that I could have bought.  Broccoli for .99/#, frozen vegs for .88/16 oz pkg, and more.  Again, you don’t have to get every deal every week.

Today, along with some bulk cooking, I trimmed the pork loin roast, cut eight chops from one end, and repackaged into three meals of chops and a roast with seasonings.  They’re in the freezer now, nicely labeled and dated.  Later this week, I’ll make twice-baked potatoes with some of the 10# bag and cheese.  The sausage will stay in the freezer until we have a festive family brunch, probably around Thanksgiving weekend. 

The point is that I planned my purchases.  I didn’t just get all the deals on items we won’t eat.  Over two or three weeks’ sales, I have enough variety to be choosey with my shopping.  And I do sometimes get the unusual item for pennies, but I know how I want to use it, and I eventually will.

What did I do with the extra $25 this week?  Well, I could have gone back to get more of these deals.  I could have saved it for next week.  I could have picked up some items for the local food pantry.  I could have purchased a 5-shelf storage unit on sale at Menard’s.  What would you have done?