Frugal Living, The Beginning, Uncategorized, Zen Routines

Money Monday

Mondays are pretty pleasant. It took a lot to get here but I took baby steps. I don’t generally go to work on Mondays unless my home care company has a needed shift to fill. Most of my work is done on Friday and Saturday so when that dreaded Monday comes for everyone else, I can sit back and relax.

In the past, I didn’t structure my free time so my mind would take over and I would get everything from hyperactive projects to sadness to take up my time. I finally got smart and learned to structure my time a bit so that I get things done and yet rarely stress about any of it. Today, for example, is Money Monday.

Money Monday is pretty easy because we do these steps for a Zen Life 365:

1) Put everything possible on online autopay. Everything from the Mortgage, Credit Cards, Utilities, Solar, Car payment, and phone service is put on a payment schedule online so we plan well for our budget.

2) We don’t carry cash. This makes tracking easier and we are instantly accountable.

3) We use Google Drive (Linked to our family email) to build spreadsheets and store receipts so that each of us can view the expense record from anywhere.

4) Receipts are scanned with our TinyScanner app using our smartphones as soon as it’s in our hand. The rule is that we don’t leave the parking lot until it’s done.This work done right away means that we don’t have to worry about keeping physical receipts including the mess that goes with them.

5) Every Monday I sit down with a cup of tea in the afternoon and enter our expenses into our monthly spreadsheet. This takes just a couple of minutes because we prepped well enough and because we don’t spend nearly as much as we used to.

This year we have goals to pay off our credit cards and one of our vehicles. We are saving money by eating frugal vegan meals and by avoiding needless little shopping trips where we would be tempted to buy more than we need. Instead, we stocked up on what we need and have more time to spend at home as a family together.en

The Beginning

Week One Projects

Food: I make some meals over the weekend so that I can just pull it out and heat it up during the week.

          Vegetarian Chili


And this is what it looks like when it cools down:


Then I made green chili and substituted TVP chunks for the traditional pork.

I bought vegetables at Carl’s which is a store that gets outdated or surplus food. Carrots were 79 cents for a 2lb bag of baby carrots. I took them home and roasted them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. At the end I drizzled Worcestershire sauce over the top. They are already gone. Today I’ll cook the red cabbage, potatoes, and carrots and freeze for soup.

Knitting: I’ve been making cotton dishcloths to practice my knitting skills. I’m also working on a set of potholders for the kitchen with a skein of yarn I picked up at the craft store for $1.

Gardening: I was lazy and didn’t get the garden ready when the sun was out. Now it’s raining and I have to wait. I’ll be planting beets, zucchini, onions, spinach, and such. Next year I will plan better and be able to grow and freeze more.

Zero Waste: I’ll be focusing on avoiding buying packaged or processed foods. I have cloth bags for my bulk items and use cloth for the larger grocery bags.

Baking: I’ll be mixing my first batch of sourdough starter this week. I like the health benefits of less of a glycemic load than yeast breads have and I can buy one less ingredient by not having to buy yeast or worry about it not being active anymore. I’ll be sharing recipes as I go and welcome comments.

Learning: The curious child and I are starting a notebook of things we would like to “investigate”. We’ll start the list today and add as we think of things. Each week we’ll choose a topic to research and do projects.

Exercise: As weather permits we’ll be walking the dog after work/school and sharing pictures when we choose a local trail. Melvin is anxious to get started.


The Beginning

My Zen Life

Creating a simpler life doesn’t happen in a day. Over time we hone in on what we really want and leave the rest behind. Life is more peaceful. We are mindful in so many ways and we work towards the simple experiences that bring us joy rather than expecting things to fill us up and make us feel fulfilled. We are working towards authentic.

We are working towards zero waste.
This means letting go of most processed food, buying in bulk, and making meals from scratch. It sounds hard but it’s been relatively easy.

We are embracing doing our own work.
I am making gifts by going back to needle crafts, upcycling things we don’t use anymore, and creating something from nothing. This engages my creative side and I so enjoy it. Now I am putting more thought into gifts. I like that and so do the recipients. I also do my own work around the house and yard including gardening. It’s grounding.

I am buying clothes at the local thrift store.
Instead of just clicking buttons online I am buying more mindfully. Wearing second-hand clothes doesn’t bother me. I look for good quality and classic style that will last. Some of my greatest joys are a simple frugal purchase.

I buy produce at the local sellout store.
These are the fruits and vegetables that aren’t perfect. I totally enjoy paying so much less for produce and saving it from the trash pile. I feel strongly that we have simply become too picky because there is an abundance. Then there is the challenge of using what there is to create recipes for the week. Sometimes if there is a surplus I take them home and freeze them.

My Zen Life is also about meeting other people. Each day of the week I will be writing on a different subject and on Friday I will be giving the list of impressive articles that changed the way I think.