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37.5%

As in my car debt is now 37.5% paid off. Car Payment #3 has been made. 3 down. 5 to go. Almost 1/2 way there. I love these short term-high progress goals. So much better than a 4 year term. Paying off my heap of car debt is just another reason to look forward to summer.

I spent $98 dollars on diesel in January. This has been a pretty average month for gas consumption, both with my carpooling efforts and the amount of extra curricular travel. I consistently fill up this car every other week, as opposed to the once a week fill ups with my old car. Fill ups cost about the same, but thats compared to gas prices from the August/September of last year for my old car. I’m guessing prices were higher then, since diesel runs about .20 to .40 per gallon more than regular currently. Even so, I’m saving money from the increased gas mileage by not filling up as often.

Speaking of gas mileage, I continue to have high hopes. It’s holding steady at 33mpg, which is fine considering I do mostly city driving. Still, better would be, well, better. I keep hearing that diesel engines “break in” and improve as time goes on. This feels like an old wives tale to me. At the 2,000 miles I’ve clocked thus far, it remains to be seen.

My strategy for finding the best price on diesel, despite early musings, has been decidedly low tech. I keep an eye on the 4 gas stations offering diesel that are on my regular gym to work to home route. Typically, there is a significant price variation between just this handfull of $.20 to $.40. One station is usually, lower but not always. I watch for prices to start to decrease, and pounce when it hits what I know to be a “low”, regardless of whether I need fuel or not. No rewards points. No memberships. Just paying attention. By and large, I feel like this has served me relatively well.

I’m still happy with my purchase of the rapidly depreciating asset. Its serving its purpose as cars do, and with all this forward progress on the note, it has yet to feel like an albatross around my neck.

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Money Saving Monday: Persistence

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This is Rocco. Rocco is the most persistent creature I have EVER met. He certainly puts my tenacity to shame, and is a fitting poster child for this particular topic.

There is a great post on Get Rich Slowly called Nobody Cares More About Your Money Than You Do. You don’t even have to read the post. The title is self-explanatory. Although, it’s worth a read, it’s worth remembering, and putting into practice every now and again.

Sometimes I feel like everyone is out to get me. Financially speaking I mean. I know that’s a pessimistic way to look at the world. I try not to. What inevitably happens, though is when it rains it pours. I go through several circumstances all at once, where if I’d just let something ride, I would end up paying well more than I should have for no good reason.

Case(s) in point.

Medical Bill. We recently received a bill for $250 from a Doctor’s visit for The Husband back in November. The invoice stated insurance had paid up, or rather refused to pay up, and we were responsible for the total. I could take this at face value, assume that the Doctor’s office and the Insurance companies had exhausted all possible options, that we really did owe $250, and pay up. Or… I could ponder how odd it is that we would have to pay what appears to be the total of the bill for a routine office visit, and start making phone calls. I started making the calls. Two weeks, several phone calls, and altered billing codes later, we might end up owing $60. I’m waiting for the final statement now. Those phone calls were painful. Not more painful than needlessly parting with $190 though.

Traffic Ticket. Also in November, The Husband got a $160 speeding ticket while enroute to our Holiday Weekend. Now, The Husband was indeed speeding, but in our state if you haven’t gotten a ticket in a very long time you can request a deferral. Problem is, you usually have to request the deferral by contesting the ticket in person. He received the ticket several counties and hours away from home. A little web surfing, and an email later, deferral was requested. No trip required. This last week I happily paid our reduced rate of $85. As long as The Husband keeps the lead foot under wraps, all should be well.
Once again, a little persistence saved us $75.

Cable bill. While we don’t have Cable TV, we do have expensive cable internet service. Service that they constantly try to make more expensive because I don’t have Television, so most bundled discounts don’t apply. The monthly total had once again edged up into the $70 range. It was time for another phone call, in which I was told that if I purchased more services I could “save” myself money on the internet. Never mind that I don’t want the services. I calmly held to my guns. They transfered me 3 times, and the third representative (lo and behold) was finally able to offer me a promotional rate of $20 less per month for 6 months. I marked the date 6 months from now when I will need to call again and renegotiate.

These are just the most recent instances. I have a long history of picking up the phone, writing a letter, or just randomly questioning the salesperson for no good reason other than I’d like to not part with more of my money than I have to. A willingness to do this, to be just a little more persistent, has more often than not turned out in my favor. Does it work for you to? The next time you get a random bill in the mail, one you weren’t expecting, or maybe doesn’t look quite right, question it.

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Sunday Spending: Cooking The Books.

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Technically, I spent $100 on groceries today. I know, I know. That is well over the allotted last week $51 for a successful January.

However, technically there are only 2.5 days left in January. I bought food for the entire week, 4 days of which will be for February. This isn’t too much of a stretch. Even our meal plan only went through Tuesday. I had to get a little creative to come up with the rest of the week.

Here’s how I’m doing the break down.

Farmers Market: $62 for 2 dozen eggs, whole chicken, apples, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
From now until Wednesday we will eat $6 worth of eggs, $2.50 worth of spinach, and $5 of apples.
That’s $13.50 for January and $48.50 against February’s total.

Local Market: $38 for almonds, granola, flour, garbanzo beans, tortillas, milk, and chips. I’ll take all of this towards January’s total.

$51.50 for this week. I am a whopping $.50 over budget. I will take that, and still happily declare success!

This is a little bit of book cookery, I agree. I am ok with it for two reasons; 1) February 1st is Wednesday and that just makes sense 2) Without a little more spending we would have had a very unhappy week. We are down to bare bones. I ate frozen shrimp for breakfast this morning. It was tasty and all, but not my first (or second or third) choice. We’ve been participants in our own Hunger Games around here, with more than a couple incidents of grumpy, low blood sugar’d adults not super interested in calling on all our creative powers just to find a dang snack. The cutting of the grocery budget has not been my most popular scheme with The Husband.

The January win in review:

Week 1: Spent $442 on our big stocking up trip, declared the $50 per week limitation for the month, and set a high water mark of $650.
Week 2: Spent an easy-peezy $24, and banked the rest as a surplus.
Week 3: $73 spent, promptly using that surplus to stock up on yummy ground chicken, but still managing to stay within budget.
Week 4: $52, but felt the pinch of a emptying cupboards and dwindling supplies.

All that, plus our current mini-week, brings the grand total for January to $642.50. I’ve been so focused on the $50 per week, I forgot about the $650 over all limitation. I have $7.50 to spare! $650, or $642.50 rather, is still a huge, completely over blown grocery budget for most people. For us, it is more than $100 less than what we usually spend. I will say I felt every single bill of that one hundred. This was not a comfortable exercise. I’m going to muddle over it this week before we come up with the February plan. Right now, I’m looking forward to a homemade pizza dinner, and a return to fruit and nuts and all the other snacks that I love.

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Ridiculous Friday

Why is today ridiculous?

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Because I am ridiculously excited about trying my dogs on a brand new food from Champion, my all time favorite kibble manufacturer. Duck, Steel Cut Oats, Pears and Goodness? Yes, please! This is highly anticipated (at least by nerds like me). I may even try it with my raw eaters, just for a change.

Other things I am being ridiculous about?

The fact that I’ve scored free pallets and coffee cans this week for use in upcoming garden projects.

That I will spend tomorrow thrifting and lunching with very good friends.

Clogged drain fixed! No plumber required! Still a little basement chaos though…

Qualifying for a market research study on charity next week, which is not as cool as the one on dog food I wanted to get. Still, $75 for 90 minutes.

Nervous about my first 1/2 marathon that I just registered for, even though it’s 6 months away.

Still not buying an iPad, but kind of obsessing about it ever since I wrote that post.

Looking forward to global domination during Sunday Dinner with friends/Risk tournament. No, we won’t be playing on my vintage board.

Really wanting to buy a Cuppow and crochet a mason jar cozy.

That is just a sampling of the current things The Husband would definitely say I am being ridiculous about in my hyper focusy focus kind of way.

How about you? What’s making you ridiculous?

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Dog Food.

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A subject near and dear to my heart. For whatever reason, I know a lot about dog food. It’s a personal interest I’ve spent quite a bit of time educating myself about over the last 10ish years. I know. That’s weird. You can read more about my qualifications here, but let me reiterate, I am not a vet. I am not even a vet tech. I am not a nutritionist. I’ve been a lot of things in the dog world. Currently I’m just an owner, and maybe an over zealous average consumer. All of the following is my opinion, and nothing more.

There have been a few reader requests for more specific information about how much I spend on my dogs and what I feed them. Up until now, I’ve tried to keep my dog posts general, and not too preachy. I’m going to be breaking with that trend a little here. As pet owners, we all do the best we can. I still believe you should feed the best food you can afford, as I’ve said before. However, I do have strong opinions on what is good for my dogs and what is worth spending my money on. Sharing my thought process will lay the groundwork for a further explanation of our pet budget.

If you aren’t a dog owner, or even if you are, this material may be a little dry (no pun intended). Come back tomorrow for regularly scheduled programming.

On with the dog food geekery.

There are basically 3 choice in Pet Food: Canned, Kibble, or Raw

Canned. Let’s start here, because this will be the shortest. By and large, I don’t use canned food. Dogs don’t need it. Cats are another story. The contents are cooked at extremely high temperatures as part of the canning process, greatly diminishing the natural nutritional value. You are paying a premium price for what is mostly water. Water is important, but I can add it to their food myself for a whole lot cheaper. The only exceptions I make for canned food have been few and far between; mostly old dog rescues, who are so shut down they genuinely refuse to eat. This is not be confused with manipulation by not eating, a totally different condition. When it is used, it is as a dressing to something else; kibble or raw, and we transition off of it as fast as possible. I do occasionally supplement with canned products; tripe or sardines (ewww on both counts), but these are not complete diets.

Brands Recommended: None. Save your money. If you are going to use it to supplement, just stay away from grocery store brands.

Kibble. The mainstay of the dog food world. And why not? Its convenient. It’s easy to transport. It’s mostly affordable. No real prep required. Meat cereal is here to stay. That’s right. Meat Cereal. That is what it is. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but we should be real about it. It is a highly processed food product. Nutritionally complete (typically) because it’s been supplemented with a vitamin mix, which is (usually) manufactured in China. Do dogs break it down effectively? Maybe. Their digestive tracts are much shorter than ours, which is handy. That’s why they aren’t normally susceptible to things like salmonella, a topic for another time. Short digestive tracts also mean less time to absorb nutrition from processed foods. Like Meat Cereal. This is just one of the problems inherent in the kibble format. Another is the lack of water. Another is the break down of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and Amino Acids as kibble is jostled and mixed during transport and use. Then there’s the whole issue with varying degrees of quality. It’s pretty easy to hide garbage ingredients in processed Meat Cereal. Alpo may look the same as a bag that costs 3 times as much. Yet, there is a world of difference. You have to do your homework on who is making your kibble and what is going in there. Then you have to do it again. Just when you think you know your product, things change. Companies get bought. Recalls happen. As you do your research, a bunch of other questions come up: Grains or Grain-Free? High Protein? Biologically-Appropriate? Chicken? or Beef? or Venison? It’s a lot to process, and what you choose totally depends on your dog. Allergies? Age? Activity level? Even behavioral problems.

Brands Recommended: Orijen, Acana (both made by the same manufacturer Champion Pet Foods), Go!, Now! (also both made the the same manufacturer, Petcurean),Great Life, Canidae (some formulas more than others, but a reasonably priced option), Lotus (a baked option, but pricey), Fromms, Addiction, and Nature’s Logic.

My advice: Find 3 or 4 kibbles of different brands, with different protein sources that work well with your dog (and are in your price range) and rotate through them every few months. Kibble can be your base diet, but supplement to overcome it’s deficiencies. Something along the lines of:
High Quality Kibble + Essentail Fatty Acids (salmon or anchovy or sardine oil) + Enzymes (yogurt, or raw milk or cottage cheese) + water (always water) + miscellaneous fruits/veggies + raw (keep reading) = a vastly improved diet

Raw: The most controversial choice. If you aren’t familiar with it, you are wondering “Feed the dog raw meat?”. Well yes, essentially. But, no it’s not that simple. Raw diets are based on raw meat, with ground organ, bone, veggies and supplements, usually without grains, processed into a nutritionally complete, easily fed format. It usually comes in a patty or nugget for ease of defrosting. These diets are available at independent pet supply and feed stores. There is a whole lot of variation in price, ingredients and processing. Obviously, food safety is a bigger concern, but really no more of a concern than cooking your own meat. Proper handling protocols should apply. Wash bowls and hands vigorously. Once again the topic of salmonella comes up, which is not a concern for dogs, but is for people. If you aren’t squeamish though, this is, in my opinion, the best way to feed your dog. Where kibble is processed, raw is biologically available. Nutritional absorption rates in the 90% range. Kibble is significantly lower. Raw is better for dental health, due to the presence of live enzymes, which also make it better for digestion. Moisture is inherent in the food, and more easily absorbed. All around, it’s the best choice. However, it is certainly more expensive. You are getting a lot more bang for your buck, but if cost is a concern, there are limitations. If feeding raw exclusively isn’t feasible, even supplementing with raw by either adding it to kibble or by feeding the occasional raw meal will benefit the overall diet.

Brands Recommended: Brands of raw vary regionally. I like Darwins, Northwest Naturals, Answers, Primal (non-poultry varieties), PepperDogz (not the beef), Vital Essentials and Raw Advantage (which does contain grain). Avoid anything labelled ‘Pathogen Safe’, as it is pasteurized with a process called HPP. Much industry debate about this process, but it changes the meat on a cellular level, and does not possess the same advantages as un-processed alternatives.

Other Categories: I am intentionally skipping a couple other options: Dehydrated and Homemade Diets. Dehydrated diets are cost prohibitive in my opinion, with no real benefit over raw. Homemade diets are a whole ‘nother can of worms in regards to nutrition and vitamin concerns and formulation. I’ve disqualified those because a) I don’t use them and b) they would require a whole additional post.

Since I sound all Negative Nancy about much of this, you are probably wondering, what do my dogs eat?

The answer is mostly raw, some kibble, and lots of variety and supplements. Half my gang eats 100% raw, because they are older and don’t tolerate kibble well. The other half eats 50% raw, 50% kibble. This is due to both budgetary restrictions and convenience. Kibble is supplemented with raw goats milk to add enzymes and moisture to the meal. They also receive leftover veggies or fruits, salmon oil, homemade broth, failed yogurt attempts, and whatever else we may have around. For the kibble eaters, I switch the protein source every few months (between fish, venison, buffalo, or duck), and switch the brand whenever it makes sense. The raw is switched up much more often. Breakfast is usually a different brand and protein source than dinner. They switch foods without any issues whatsoever.

This set-up is really not as complicated as it sounds. My dogs have been eating this way, with minor variations, for most of their lives. They are all at ideal weight and we have avoided many of the health problems common in their breeds. I don’t think this is an accident. For me, after years of research, label reading, and anecdotal evidence, I am convinced this is the best I can do for them. Ultimately, that is what’s important.

Further Reading:

Whole Dog Journal. A wealth of information on health, feeding and nutrition. They publish a yearly dog food review for kibble, raw, and dehydrated foods.
Also checkout any of the above links to manufacturer’s websites. In particular, Answers Pet Food offers a lot of information about nutrition.
See my previous dog posts for even more information on caring for dogs, in a budget minded sort of way.

If I haven’t yet lost you, all this will segue nicely into next week’s post about the specifics of a large portion of our budget, labeled ‘Pet Spending’. *gulp*

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Weekly Goals: Basement Chaos

Clogged drains, laundry line, tomato starts, misplaced shelving, and meditations about ripping up carpet. These are just a few of the exciting things currently going on in our finished basement (aka the Under Haus). Any guesses as to what this week’s goals are going to be about?

Of most pressing need is a backed up shower drain in our downstairs bathroom. This is, of course, the shower that we use. So far all The Husband’s efforts involving lye, vinegar, snakes, coat hangers, plungers and boiling water have been for naught. I *really* do not want to call a plumber. Last time we did that it was $150 for about 20 minutes of total visit time. Granted, problem was resolved. There is that.

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While not a proper goal from last week, I am very proud to report that my tomato seeds are in! I am happier with the hum of electricity usage than I’ve probably ever been. Plus, it makes for a much better picture than a clogged drain.

For last week’s official goals, there was..

Sell Stuff. Not as industrious as I would have liked, but I did get the main item I’ve intended to sell for a very long time listed. Just in case, any one is interested in a retired American Girl doll, I’ve got one for a little while longer. No selling of any of my thrift failures as of yet. Because I am back on the ebay bandwagon at all, I declare success.

Apple Butter. Two batches from edible, if ugly apples. The end result tastes caramely good. Hands down win. We also ate apples in oatmeal bars and quiche and pretty much anything else we could disguise them in.

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Run a full Marathon. Sadly, no. Foiled by snowpacalypse. The Y was closed for 3 days last week. My total was a measly 20 miles. Less than last week even. I think I get a mulligan due to weather.

Spend $50 on Groceries. Heh. I win. I say again, one. more. week.

Coming up…

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Furniture painting. I bought this chair for a whopping $.50 during a recent half off furniture sale at Goodwill. Originally, I intended to re-purpose at least one of the legs for desk organizers. This proved to be entirely unnecessary. Now, The Husband is fixing up the seat with a wood glue and a big clamp. I’m thinking a little purple spray paint and it will look lovely in the corner of my bedroom. I’m worried there won’t be enough paint. It’s a borrowed can, which if I use all of, I will have to replace. (Don’t worry J!) Perhaps I should go buy paint anyway, because I have set of shelving left over from…

Garage/Garden Shed Fallout. We did another round of preparation for Chicken Coop Construction involving a shuffle of stuff from shed to garage from garage to dump or Goodwill or, for a small percentage of items, into the house. This is contributing to basement chaos.

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Look! A whole week’s worth of projects right there. All these things need to find a home or purpose or leave. Gigantor shelving unit has a couple options. Will I paint it and put it the office? Or reorganize and use it for canned good storage in my basement closet? There is also a sudden abundance of materials for garden stakes (shims and chalkboard paint anyone?), caulking, a random growler container for beer, and other flotsam and jetsam to be dealt with.

Run Do Over. I’ll be taking that do over, thank you kindly.

Start Costco Cancellation Process. The further narrowing of my Big Box world. This is the subject of an entire upcoming post as it will be a fine dance of using my rewards check, while avoiding the membership fee. I need to determine when that has to happen, and plan for one last monster Costco goodbye visit.

It is not even worth mentioning that I will obviously, without a doubt, 100% be sticking to my grocery budget. $50. And that is all.

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Buy….

…don’t buy anything at all.

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Photo credit to JuhaIhalainen, as I don’t have my own iPad to take pictures of.

I want an iPad.

There I said it. I want an over priced tablet computer. And I have all sorts of justification for it.

We are a 1 laptop, 1 TV family. Seems totally reasonable, right? After all we are only 2 people. Yet, its increasingly difficult to balance my Financial Empire managing and blog blogging with The Husband’s need for a computer in the kitchen for recipes and all the mini-projects he is tasked with. Right now we play a somewhat frustrating back and forth of “Just give me 5 minutes” or “Let me scribble this down”. Trains of thought are interrupted. Flour ends up on keyboards. Patience is tested.

An iPad is totally the answer. A mini computer for someone to browse, while the other types. Perfect for the kitchen, or watching your own streaming Netflix, or reading up on how to grow fennel, or, or or…

That’s a need, right?

Yes, I am being an elitist here. There are other, cheaper tablets, serving essentially the same purpose. Heck, the Kindle Fire may even be a loss leader. The problem (and the beauty) with Apple products, is they just work. My MacBook works with my Airport Extreme , works with my Apple TV, works with my Magic Mouse. This involves little to no intervention from me. For someone who has less than zero patience with such things, it’s completely worth the premium price when it just works.

My problem though is not the price tag. It’s not even the brand. It’s the Conscientious Consumerism of the thing. The knowing participation in planned obsolescence. The creation of more e-crap for my own convenience.

These things are manufactured in China under questionable (but perhaps improving) labor practices, with parts likely strip mined from around the globe. It is largely not recyclable. I don’t want to even think about the fossil fuels expended in it’s creation and transport. All so it can be shipped to me to further the efficiency with which I handle my first world problems. For a few years at least. Until it is rendered useless by the passage of not very much time, and technology advancement. This is true of the iPad and the iPad alternatives.

Still, I want one. Need is questionable.

How would I lessen the blow? How does one improve the responsibility of such a decision?

Buy Used? The way I see it, this is only helpful if I’m buying from someone who is not going to turn around and replace the item. If I buy an original IPad, so they can rush out and buy an IPad 2, it may save me money, but it’s still a net new add to the world of stuff. If that’s what I’m trying to avoid, it would have to be a specific circumstance. Someone looking to unload their tablet because it has proven not useful to them. Nosiness would be required, and there’s really no guarantee.

Buy Local? In most areas I don’t think that’s even an option. You can buy your IPad from any variety of Big Box locations, or Apple directly. Independent electronics retailers are few and far between. We have a local(ish) chain I could patronize. By local I mean Washington and Oregon locations. This would soften the blow ever so slightly, but prohibit me from using Amazon rewards and gift cards we’ve been squirrelling away from just such a purchase. Amazon is my remaining big box exception, so I could do it. It does nothing to improve the ickiness of the purchase though.

What Else? Buying used doesn’t really help, and buying local is going to cost me significantly more. What’s a fiscally conservative, socially responsible girl to do? My answer so far has been not to buy. Like my mother told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”. With a small, twist I think that application works remarkably well here. As long as I can’t think my way into any sort of good alternative, regardless of ‘need’ being real or just made up in my head, I am choosing not to consume. Yes, it’s an item I really, really want. It’s even an item I can afford. Right now, it’s one I just won’t buy. Maybe that helps my karma just a little, and it certainly keeps money in the bank account.

The Husband and I will have to make do with talking to each other, coordinating, and agreeing to watch the same thing on TV. Poor us. (with added sarcasm)

What would you do? Am I the only one that is squeamish about electronics purchases? Hmmm…. Maybe I don’t actually want the answers to those questions.

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Money Saving Monday: Zoe Muth

Zoe Muth & the  Lost High Rollers (9/9/11)
Photo credit to thezenderagenda.com

This is about inspiration. Like last week, inspiration to make the choice to not. In our consumer driven buy-buy-buy culture, examples of that can be hard to come by. As I previously mentioned, I saw Zoe Muth live a couple weeks ago. $17 tickets. (Yay!) Expensive drinks and food (Shoulda skipped). Overall a lovely show and a good time.

I’m somewhat new to Zoe’s music, but absolutely loving it. It’s twangy country western from Seattle. If you’re into that sort of thing, check her out. Even if you aren’t, there’s some lyrics worth taking a peek at.

This song has been on heavy rotation at my house. It’s fueling my ‘don’t buy stuff’ fire. Emphasis added by yours truly.

Whatever’s left. From

Take me down to the back side of town
Down by the railroad tracks
I don’t want to see what they are trying to show me
I want to see what’s slipped through the holes and the cracks
And you can take what is new
All I want it something true

You can block the sun you can stand still while we run
And make better time with every step we take
I thought I could live on what I had to give
But now you tell me I’ve made some mistake
Am I the one who’s been misled
Holding on to the hopes that the others left for dead

Chorus.
What will we do when our strength and our money’s been spent
Will our love survive by some strange accident
I want to hear you say
When something is broken or something is bent
I want to hear you say
We can make do with whatever is left

We swore on the buttons of our coats
And the laces of our shoes
Our backs to the wind a broken world ours to mend
We didn’t have much else to lose
Just a song to sing
If we’ve still got that well ain’t that something?
Chorus.

Take the old make it new
Make it over, make it do or do without
Take what you find from what others left behind

The ashes and the bones and the echo of that shouted word
That I still don’t know
But somehow I still cannot let it go

Chorus.

Or take a listen

Ok, so it’s not just about stuff. There’s a more important relationship theme in there, but with a non-consumer spin. I can get behind that when it comes to people, and certainly when it comes to how I spend my time. Thanks Zoe for the addition to my personal soundtrack!

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Sunday Spending: Squeaking By

Welcome to Sunday Spending, my (mostly) weekly check in where I come clean about the ridiculous amount of money I spend on groceries (and the like) in my on-going pursuit to both maintain a budget and eat/buy with a conscience.

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Somehow, almonds did not make it on the grocery list. I only discovered this as groceries were being put away.

We eat a lot of nuts around here. We are protein craving people, and nuts are an easy, portable source for snacks and lunches. Being out of almonds is a kind of a big deal. I could stop and pick some up on the way home from work tomorrow. But, I wont. We are holding the line. They were not on the list. They are not in the budget. I am following last week’s good advice choosing not to spend the extra $6. Not because it would be the end of the world. It wouldn’t. Just because. We have stuck with the budget this far.

We will instead eat the all but impossible to shell walnuts for as snacks this week. It will burn calories prior to consumption. There’s the silver lining.

In general our cupboards and fridge are looking pretty bare. We are having to get creative. A new CSA box shows up tomorrow, so that will help. Right now it’s down to a visually appealing, although not readily accessible assortment of beans.

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We did actually buy food this week. I swear.

Whole Foods: $21 Because we were in the neighborhood. We got flour, eggs (free with coupon), tortillas, coarse salt, granola, and chips.

Stumptown Coffee: $14 We ran out of our stash of stock piled coffee. Trying Stumptown as an experiment.

Pride & Joy: $11 This is my new, significantly cheaper source of raw milk. Available for pick up locally every other week.

Local Market: $6 Regular milk for mozzarella making.

Grand Total: $52. The budget was $50 + $3 carry over from last week. Whew. See why there will be no almonds?

The pickings are slim. One week left. One week. In one week, I will have successfully cut my grocery budget down by $100. I have home made yogurt and jam a plenty. The Husband is busily crafting crusty bread and english muffins. Add our stores of tuna, peanut butter, oatmeal and eggs. We will survive. Success is imminent.

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Saturday Link Love: A Tale of 2 Jobs

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Future Chicken house. Pretty happy there were no ladies living in it this week. Next year though…

A week of being snowed in means The Husband doesn’t work. At all. Something as simple as the weather decreased his monthly income by 25%. Lame. And the nature of the beast.

It’s times like this I appreciate Corporate Servitude. Corporate Servitude that enables me to be at home all week, still filling my function, staying off the icy roads, and greatly lessening the blow of The Husbands sudden lack of employment. I may dislike it greatly, but it sure is a cushy place to land.

In further contrast, today I will end my week of quiet work at home with a shift at The Pet Store. I will chat up customers, stock bags of food and then carry it out to cars. I will bag and smile and straighten, like I would have been doing all week, icy roads and snow and all, if I hadn’t had the opportunities I did and made the choice I made. Work from home is a luxury I certainly would not have had. Such is the nature of that beast.

With all that on my mind, I have only 1 link to share today.

Originally found via Rowdy Kittens, NorCal Katie writes a thought provoking piece on life and death… and jobs, at least in reference to how we spend our time. My favorite quote is…

I didn’t want to spend the next 30 years working for someone else’s bottom line as a corporate servant in exchange for money and have little time to do what I really want to do with my life. I’d rather have time than money, but that’s just me. (I also really dislike being told what to do.) I want to write, take pictures, garden, be creative, and help people.

Amen, Sister!

My struggle is making my life match that desire. Without a momentous life changing deus ex machina, how does one transform their life into what they want to do? Vs. what they have to when there’s a little snow?

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