Doing major grocery shopping efficiently is not an easy task, and needs a lot of preparation- bothwhile getting the delivery- and afterward.
Once you’ve mastered this – you get to enjoy the massive time+money saving skills you acquired, plus you raise your cooking skills+your healthy eating habits- to a higher level- simply because suddenly everything you need is visible and reachable.
*I know this preparing ahead is a pain in the ***. I am a full-time working mother of 3 (ok 2 are now grown up but I remember the days I had to manage to feed and take care of a 5 person household).
But- at the end of the day- let alone at the end of the month- these tips are huge time savers, and the time and money you save because you are eating healthier- well it’s a triple win situation.
let’s get to part 2:( part one is getting the groceries online, as described so vividly in the previous post I linked above)
Preparing a few days before online groceries arrive:
#1: going through your fridge: emptying fruit and vegetable cabinets!
But- if you still have some veggies hidden in the corner of your vegetable drawer, this is the time to be creative!
#2: going through your freezer- taking out long timers to see some sunshine!
“breadsticks” -had some pieces of 2 months old whole wheat bread that was no longer appealing. cut them to stripes, mixed in a bowl with olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper- and while baking focaccia in the oven- these went in as well.
*Yes saving electricity as well. (READ HERE MORE TIPS ON THAT- ALWAYS USEFUL TO BE MINDFUL).
#3: going through my pantry- (wow I forgot I had that pasta!)
Even the dry products in the pantry need some TLC.
Clearing and cleaning the fridge and freezer a few days ahead is important because:
it makes room for the products you ordered-makes much more sense than standing in front of a full fridge and trying to manipulate the new products in.
so much more environmental to use what you already have first…believe me 3 weeks is enough time for me to forget the treasures I have stacked in my fridge, let alone the freezer…(by the way the stuffed peppers you saw above- were filled with frozen quinoa and surrounded by tomato and bean sauce- matched together simply because I didn’t have enough space in the freezer for all the beans I cooked…turned out marvelous!)
knowing what you already have at home- saves you a lot of precious money! one of the clear benefits of online grocery shopping is the ability to add and remove products from your list until the last minute. believe me, I change my list every 2-3 days- when I think of a new recipe , when I check the fridge and find my nooch is gone, when I find out walnuts are on 35% sale, or when I find a hidden treasure of oats in my pantry.
Clearly, it is so much healthier to revisit your food items and check for unwanted visitors like ants and such. (dried dates attract ants in the summer like crazy! do yourself a big favor and keep them in the fridge during the hot months!)
obviously, a clean and tidy fridge-freezer-pantry are nicer to use and to look at as a general rule of living. thus more appealing to look for new healthy meals to prepare!
#4: check your cabinets for empty jars:
No use standing in front of 200 grams of paprika and having nowhere to store it. (Just a random example I came up with).
So, early retirement is getting closer and closer.
If nothing changes- my due date is at the end of this (short) month- February 28.
Being a walking irony that I am, the minute I wrote a mail to everyone at work announcing my retirement and inviting them to a modest toast on the 28th, someone at work told me he had heard that in 3-4 months a retirement plan is going to be published.
Now if this is true, this can potentially mean a lot of money I, of course, will not receive since my date is at the end of this month.
At first, I admit I got angry. then I got anxious, then I sat down and thought about it.
This is a lot of money we are talking about.
Should I try to postpone my retirement?
This rumor can be true- and it can be false too.
In the past two years, every 3-4 months a rumor similar to this one starts spreading among workers.
This could very possibly mean I would try to postpone my retirement in hope for a retirement plan to come along- and just sit there waiting for a year and maybe even more.
Of course, there is also the possibility that this rumor is absolutely true- which would definitely qualify me to be the next Alanis Morissette.
I have reached the point at work, where I simply cannot go on anymore.
I mean- if I had no choice, of course, I would go on, but working over 27 years in the same job- well that is a lot of time doing the same thing.
I have reached a point where I am so burned out, that my mind wonders everywhere but to the job I have to do- and this is not good. at all.
I am also very distracted all around, focus only on myself and my situation at work, I am anxious and snappy at home- and of course at work, and to put it mildly-this can’t go on any longer.
I decided that I am not going to change my plans due to this rumor.
Early retirement is a well thought about decision I made a few years ago, knowing fully well that I needed to frugalise my habits since my income will downsize to 60% of my current income.
I learned to be frugal, saved money, and although I have no specific plans for my retirement- I can’t wait for it.
I know that the common understanding is that early retirement should not be used toescape a job you dislike, and you should learn to deal with your situation until you conquer it.
And yet this is exactly what I am doing.
Another mistake I am making according to common knowledge is retiring with no plans. this- according to many people- is bound to drive me nuts.
While I totally respect that, and it might also be true; I simply cannot bring myself to make specific plans right now.
Mind you I am a very planned ahead person, I make lists all the time, I love having structure in my life and I am not scared of chores.
And yet- no plans.
I mean- I know I want to grow vegetables in my garden; and I am seed growing for a few weeks now:
And since I cook from scratch and clean all scratches- plus my exercise routine- and tending to the garden – not only the vegetables but all of it (I have a small house but quite a large garden – this will be time-consuming. And let’s not forget my beloved blog!
I am an introvert, and being alone has never bothered me- au contraire, and while I am not forgetting the possible void when leaving a management position after many years, I have been thinking about this ego downsizing a lot, read here:Early retirement Jitters-dealing with my ego.
I am spending a lot of time thinking about not being a big shot at work anymore, not getting a lot of urgent calls that need my immediate attention, not being needed at all,
This is not easy for me, certainly after almost all of my adult life after university, I spent at a job where I was always needed and busy.
But I am tired now, and cannot go on giving the way I used to.
It is definitely the time to retire early.
even without plans.
One thing I spent a lot of time contemplating was my cell phone.
I got my cell phone from work- including a plan, and now I need to return my phone -or buy it for 320$, and find a new plan.
So I started looking online. and found myself another phone.
A cheaper one, that has all I need- and is highly recommended for its price.
The cheaper phone is perfectly fine for my needs- I don’t play games on the phone, I don’t write my posts or anything else for that matter on my phone, and I only need it for basic communication with a few close people, and to listen to music on Spotify while I run or work in the garden.
I also need to take good photos for this blog- but no selfies. I don’t like taking pictures of myself. at all.
So after a lot of searching, I decided on the xiaomi redmi note 6, and this is no advertisement since I haven’t bought it yet- and I get nothing from any company concerning this phone- or anything else.
This phone is going to cost me 227 $ including a 2-year warranty. I am taking the 32 GB and not the 64 GB since I looked online and the word was that only heavy users and gamers have an actual use for that 64 GB and regular users can do fine with only 32 GB.
I also looked for a cheap cell plan and found one that costs 5.5 $ a month and gives 10 Giga of use and free interstate talking minutes.
Since my use is limited as I told you, and I have no love for talking on the phone, this should be enough.
Just to be safe I looked on my phone to see how many Giga I use currently so I have a benchmark- and found out I only use 3 Gb a month so 10 should be more than enough.
The last issue concerning my phone and the one that I hesitated about the most, was my phone number.
I have had the same phone number for a very long time. and my phone is 95% work related.
I sat down and went over my contact list, and hand-picked the few people I would like to keep in touch with after I retire. and the people I need to stay in touch with- plumbing, bank, doctor, etc. I don’t think the list holds more than 40 numbers. mind you I have hundreds currently on my phone.
So after a lot of thinking- I decided to change my phone number, and only notify the people who were on that hand-picked list.
This seems like a small and insignificant decision- but if you think about it – it’s like starting a new life completely.
I wonder how it will go.
3 weeks till retirement day.
enjoy- the cooliflower.
p.s thanks again pixels for a mood capturing photo.
I do everything in my power not to ask for help- any kind of help- from anybody, and aside from stuff like electricity and plumbing -and of course car repairs -I can think of a few more but trying not to let you zzzzzz away- I believe you got the drift.
I cook from scratch, clean my house, work in the garden and save the world.
*well, I haven’t gotten to the last one yet but I am definitely on it.
That is why I do not depend on anyone- or anything for that matter- to cheer me up every morning.
It is nobodies job to cheer me up -but mine.
I don’t expect my partner to do it, I don’t expect my kids to do it, and I most certainly don’t expect my work to pick me up-I have no expectations from my workplace none what so ever. (early retirement, anyone?)
So- the (legit) alternatives left were- not doing anything. meaning- let it be let it be and all that relaxed thing, which in my case means only one thing: sinking into misery-or- taking matters to my own hands!
Guess what- I chose the latter.
And I am here to tell you how this worked- because it did-and still does- so why not be generous and share the knowledge?
These tips are frugal, healthy, and environmental so.
#1: I keep a notepad on my nightstand, and first thing in the morning, every morning– I write something nice to myself.
something in the lines of “good morning love” -you get the drift. I also draw a heart in different markers. I know this sounds silly, but In the past, I used to think of myself all kinds of things, none of them nice and reassuring. none of the words I spoke to myself (in my head) were kind and loving. most of them were scolding and at times- hard times- even insulting.
I finally realized a few months ago that this has to change, and I promised myself to give myself a break.
One of the measures I took to train myself to be kinder to me- was the notepad.
The notepad you see in the picture below- hiding under the Ipad, is my second one already.
I found out I start scribbling notes to myself once I reach the pad, and this has become somewhat of a journal- unintentionally.
#2: listen to good music.
Sure- music is a matter of taste – but some bands are considered classics because there was something clean and pure in the sound they made, which made it timeless.
My go to’s are Pink Floyd (all albums except for “animals” -what happened there??) Deeppurple, led zeppelin, rainbow, Metallica, and women music writers like Kate Bush, Alanis Morisette, Tracy Chapman, and Chrissie Hynde. and many more.
Find music that gets you going and a pair of good headphones and simply enjoy yourself.
life is good (at least it is when you listen to music).
#3: cleaning the house:
Ok, I know what you’re thinking- but just try it. combined naturally with tip #2. full volume.
click for reading more on my green and simple cleaning routine.
#4: Talk with my partner.
he has a way of looking at complicated things in a unique way that simplifies them.
#5: when #4 is no help- I talk to my daughter.
I am proud glad to say this girl ( now almost 27) has turned out to be one of my “go to” people. she is smart and super funny and I like the way she thinks.
#6: read a good book
I am aware I sound like an introvert nerd. and I am proud to be one.
#7: cook ( and eat )something good.
I love food. I love eating. and I love cooking. and eating tasting the food while making it.
planning my next meal is one of my favorite pastimes. I make a big deal of food I know. I tell myself it’s a matter of respecting myself and my body. this is true- but I also really like to eat.
#8: working out
naturally located right after #7.
But I work out not to “get rid” of anything, because I don’t look at good food as something you need to “get rid of”, not to mention that many times working out makes me twice as hungry, but because I understand how important working out consistently is crucial for everyone- and when you get to 50+ -you understand the tremendous benefits of the years you worked out- so you keep going. this is my experience anyway.
simple and effective.
#10. having only meaningful conversations
I am an introvert, and small talk is a task I have great difficulty with. so I stopped having meaningless conversations- I avoid crowded places and meeting places, and when someone at work starts a conversation with me- If I am up to it- I make a true effort to turn the conversation to a meaningful one. I do that by looking at the person speaking to me, I mean really looking. and listening to the tone of his words. many times I simply ask about something meaningful to the speaker that is about to happen or has happened already, and dig under the surface of “it was great!”. turns out people are anxious to have this kind of conversations and leave my room thanking me -when most times I just listened -but not to the usual chit-chat- I can’t relate to this in any way- but to people’s real feelings and emotions that I can. sometimes.
#11: saying kind words
Turns out people -all people- need to hear kind words- if they are true and not fake compliments. I know that if I decide to put the effort in it- I can find something kind to say to almost all the people I work with. and saying it to them- not all the time let’s not exaggerate here- makes both parties feel good . for free.
These were my tips. love to hear more. enjoy- the cooliflower.( thanks pixels for that really good mood photo for free).
I have been running for many years, and for a couple of years even participated in a few races (half marathons, 10k, nothing fancy) until I decided my introvert self overcomes my competitive self. I am by no way an expert on running, I am not a “running doctor” ( ok I am aware there is no such thing just wanted to emphasize) but I believe that the fact that I still struggle with some runs, I don’t have trillions of ultra’s hanging from (the belt) my running shorts and the most important thing- after many years I still love running and find it one of the most liberating things a person can do- is qualification enough to be connected to beginners- and hand out my simple yet effective tips- in a way perhaps a truly qualified expert- might not be.
*And the last word on races: I admit that training for a race is a great way to get yourself going in the morning, but I am now in a good place of self-discipline and until this phase goes away- I’m letting that introvert in me enjoy its victory.
#2: yoga: Sunday, Monday and Thursday: I’m using the down-dog app. just used the new year discount (60% off!) to upgrade to premium, after 6 months of using the free version. I do 35-45 minutes of intermediate 2 level- still can’t hack the da** crow pose or lolasana- and now they have this “elephant trunk” thing. come on.but- great workout -I absolutely love them. no affiliated anything.
#3: running: 2-3 times a week.16-20 k weekly total. this is finally evolving- after a long time of easy 2 mile jogs- (I Have tons of excuses, none of them are interesting or valid in any way)-I am back on track so to speak. only I don’t run tracks, or competitive, or in a group. I run alone. I have been running alone all my running life, can’t do it any other way. I know people swear by their running teams and coaches and mates -and say that they motivate them and get the best out of them etc.
For those of you who are introverts- no explanation is in order. for those of you who aren’t -well enjoy the group thing-and live happily ever after.
Over the years- being a very practical person -and one that dislikes making the same mistake 3 times (yes- two times does happen to me. a lot, sadly), I gathered 12 tips that work for me every time. basic, simple, frugal, environmental. and mental. check on everything a person might want.
#1: prepare a good playlist- and change it every week or two:
yes, I am aware that some people run without music- I simply can’t believe it. I love music and combine classic rock (Pink Floyd, led zeppelin, deep purple, rainbow, Metallica, with lighter stuff- queen, Alanis Morissette, Tracy Chapman, ELO, and when in need of energy boost- pet shop boys will get me going. spotify does a good job and the sound is great- plus very little ad disturbance- and I didn’t go premium. I also listen to podcasts on Spotify.
#2: prepare ahead – find a good trail or running location
check it out for potential dangers /water breaks/restroom breaks. also, measure it so you know how much you ran even if you wish to leave your phone at home -(I know I just wrote something crazy).
make sure your trail is not too crowded – takes all the fun out of running if you are stuck in runners traffic- and on the other hand- not too distant: if like me you like to run early in the morning- well then it’s a bit scary not to mention totally unsafe to start running at 05:30 in a distant place, all alone, in the dark.
Plus- having more than 10-15 minutes drive to your location in the early hours -is quite a turnoff – but- try to make sure you run somewhere pretty. feast your eyes and soul, why don’t you. if you can. try to find a park or river or majestic urban scenery. this takes some preparing ahead but It’s important. if you can find a trail that has some hills -even better.
the picture above is sunrise in my running location.
#3: find the best time to run.
I prefer morning time- by prefer I mean I always run in the morning- because I am a morning person and love the post-workout sensation and endorphins +the sense of doing something good for and with myself.
check out the hours at your preferred trail- for reasons of a crowd or creepy solitude- check above why.
#4: prepare your pre-workout snack ahead:
Something light yet nourishing- don’t stuff your face or you’ll regret it soon enough…
There are rumors about drinking a cup of black coffee 20 minutes before a run being beneficial- do your research. it’s fun.
#5: get your self a pair of good running shoes, and while you’re at it- a pair of running socks:
I have been running for years only with Saucony, good and solid shoes, I used to buy new ones every 9-12 months when I ran half marathons, but I have been running in the same pair for almost 3 years now- since there was only light jogging that didn’t impact the shoes so much. now that I’m back -I’m getting a new pair- and the previous ones are going to be used as working in the garden walking around- shoes.
#6: speaking of gear: don’t forget sunglasses and a cap when it’s hot- and gloves and a cap if its super cold.
it is no fun to forget how it feels to have fingers, or having earaches- or headaches- because your ears are frozen. it isn’t any fun either to squint because of the blinding sun the whole run -or worse- not see where you are going…
#7: dress appropriately: not too much- not too little!
When I run in the winter (early, very early in the morning) I see people dressed in heavy fleeces -almost coats. the temperature here is around 5-15 Celsius in the morning, (that’s 40 -60 Fahrenheit ) and while I agree this is cold- I believe going on a run overdressed- is not only killing the fun- it’s an obstruction of justice.
I mean- what you need to realize is while you may be cold at first- once you start running the body produces heat -and when you’ll be hot- you will have no one to carry your gear *that is assuming you are not the queen of England reading my post now. in case you are- you may skip this tip, your highness.
On the other hand- please don’t go being a hero: wear 2 layers when it’s cold, and remember tip #6.
*speaking of clothing– running in the rain can be pure fun- something we did as children and don’t do anymore- try it! but- be prepared: meaning- if you are in a trail a bit distant from home- have a bag with a change of clothes waiting for you in your car. don’t drive home soaking wet! and please- if its cold outside- check the forecast before starting a long run exactly when it starts raining. I find it exciting and fun to finish a run in the rain- knowing I prepared ahead and have hot water in the shower. otherwise- just do a long yoga session instead of running and next time remember to prepare ahead.
#8: this is a super important tip! -if running alongside a road- with headphones and some good music- run facing traffic– meaning- you can see every car/bus/truck aiming at you!
this is not always possible- happened to me today- the sides of the road weren’t equal- one was considerably narrower than the other so I had to run looking backward every 3 minutes – pain in the a**!! try to find a trail where you can make sure you can see traffic before it sees you.
By the way- this can happen in the park too- if running in traffic hours- cyclists and other runners- perhaps (?!?) faster than you -are around, with the sole intention of bumping into you. try to be aware -in spite of good music+ the famous zone you might get into when having a good run.
#9: Emmmm keys?
If you are asking yourself “what about them keys?” than you need to get out of the house all happy and inspired, only to find out you have shorts with no zippers or pockets to put your house or car keys in, and you listened to advise #7 and only wore necessary light clothes with no pockets- and so you are now destined to run your whole run with the keys in your hands like some kind of idiot/burglar.
Well no you don’t!
An old trick is to untie one of your shoelaces, and tie it again – with your key ring -then tuck the connected keys- under the tied laces. next time you buy running shorts- remember to check if they have a key pocket, it’s a tad easier.
#10: this is the best tip of them all: prepare your post-workout snack before you head out!
this is a precious tip people- because it touches the very essence of human nature: we need meaning. we need a goal. we need foooooooooood!
by preparing ahead you will achieve setting that goal- (“this treat is waiting for me in the kitchen..I can finish this run …I have something to look forward to”) that is , of course- just until you get to that famous runners zone- then you can live on air and nothing else.
Plus- when you get back home tired and hungry- this is not the best time to start looking for something to eat. chances are you will end up eating something less than super healthy, chances are- mostly carbs. sometimes not of the best quality even.
This is not only bad for your health-(post workout fuel is super important for building muscle- check this out!) but also for your mood.
You just finished a great run, had a great time with your body- connected you might even say. respected- for sure. now what? just because you neglected to think of post-workout fuel- you go back to disrespecting your body (and yourself?)
*Plus- if you are anything like me- thinking about food- specifically my next meal- is one of my favorite hobbies- so.
If this is summer and you fancy a smoothy- please don’t make it ahead. sorry- unless you freeze it- it turns disgusting sitting idly in the fridge.
Prepare everything you need for that smoothy- bananas, soy milk, dates, greens, apples, chia seeds, etc- cut and organized so you just have to pop it in the Vitamix and bam.
Fancy soy yogurt with oats and bananas? great idea! make sure everything is waiting for you to cut and organized it- I wouldn’t mix them ahead- but this is a matter of taste.
If you feel like a proper meal- vegan omelet style- go ahead and cut your adding -I would dare suggest even to fry your adding ahead- and have them waiting for the batter in the pan. make sure you have whole wheat bread or focaccia, and avocado or tahini or hummus -some good protein to spread on.
add a salad- make sure the veggies are washed and ready to cut.
Want to go wild? eat a hearty bowl of beans. add quinoa.
have a salad with quinoa. crazy. wow.
#11: please please don’t over do it!
search and consult and find a good plan that fits your health and fitness level. many beginners burn themselves in the first month or two- it is easy to burn out your unused muscles and end up doing more damage than good. take it easy- you have a whole lifetime to enjoy the beauty of running!
#12: Don’t give up!
It takes time to build a running habit and to get the famous high everyone is raving about. don’t worry- be persistent and take good care of yourself, eat well and rest when needed, don’t overdo it- and enjoy! running is healthy, frugal, exciting and fun!
Up until that moment, I felt gorgeous .I look at the mirror and smile at my reflection, I go to work feeling good about my appearance, and the whole issue -has stopped being an issue for me for-until those remarks.
I am 50, for crying out loud -(if you are wondering- I did cry out loud later in my car on the way to work) – and I still care so much what my mother thinks of my personal choices. wow. does this ever stop??
When I was 18 I left home- at first came on weekends, then came on holidays -and since I moved up north- almost 14 years ago- I don’t make the trip that often.
For years I had difficulties enjoying family dinners- although my mother puts a lot of effort and money into the fancy side of hosting: she has expensive cookware and makes many gourmet dishes -but I have genuine difficulties enjoying that food , and for years I didn’t understand why.
Looking back, I realize that my difficulties had/have a lot to do with my unresolved issues with her, issues that led her to say something so offensive- in my opinion- to me.
That got me thinking about my relationship with my kids: am I guilty of the same behaviour? am I letting any of my children believe they are anything short of marvelous?
Should we tell our children our honest opinion about how they look -what they wear- their choice of friends- their school skills?
I mean- should we give them our honest opinion if they never asked for it to begin with?
Is this our “obligation as parents”?
“If we don’t tell them the truth- how will they improve? ”
It’s been over a week since that visit- and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
I can’t ask my children a direct question -obviously- I can only try to reflect on my relationship with them, and hope that the fact that I honestly think they are themost wonderful human beings to walk the face of this earth– is a good sign that I probably didn’t base my relationship with them on criticism instead of reassuring them that they are wonderful and capable- and therefore can do whatever they wish- even if they sometimes fail.
I have no idea if this is the right way to go – and don’t get me wrong- I’ve had my share of arguments with my children- harsh things were said, and I regret saying 99% of them.
I wish I were a perfect parent, I wish I was that laid back mother earth always calm and relaxed waiting at any hour to feed them with their favourite food and listen to their troubles. I most definitely am not that kind of mother- and honestly I never was.
I work full-time at a very demanding job- lame excuse I know and yet- I almost never waited for them when they came back from school, most of the time I was so tired my eyes closed while they were ranting about their teachers, and I can only say to my defense that I did the best I could.
I hope so.
I hope I never offended them in a way that made them question their choices, their appearance, their partners: themselves.
If you are wondering whether I confronted talked to my mother about the way I felt -well, no. I didn’t.
I know some may think avoiding difficult conversations such as this one is the wrong way to go, and that you cannot build a healthy relationship when one party has unsolved issues that are repressed .
I am a strong believer in this exact attitude as a general rule .
But in this case-I am hesitating.
I understand some people believe it is ok to give their opinion- harsh as it may be- without sugar-coating it in any way.
Truth is something I value highly, and it seems to be very double-standard of me to be a strong advocate of truth when it suits me- and to deny it and call it unfair and cruel criticism when I am being told something I find offensive.
Plus- I tend to think that trying to change your parent’s behaviour at a certain age- has a less than 5% chance of succeeding, while more than 100% chance of turning into a major argument involving buried issues from both sides.
I am still thinking about it.I would love to hear your take on this.
Being an avid frugal person, I used to avoid online grocery shopping, thinking the produce will not be as good as the produce I hand pick , the prices will be considerably higher, and I will not get that “vibe” you get when strolling along the supermarket aisles -that “vibe” that sends you to the kitchen raving with new ideas and recipes.
Well- turns out I was wrong- I mean totally wrong- on all 3 counts.
#1: turns out my online supermarket declared that they hand pick the best produce for their online customers, and that turned out to be true. on the rare occasions that I discovered a few over ripe bananas or something like that- Immediately wrote to the customer service online- and they reimbursed me that instant.
#2: The online prices are a bit higher than shopping at the cheapest supermarket, but: atthe end of the day-the cost is lower. let me explain:
A.Let’s all admit– when we go to the store- specially a supermarket- we tend to buy morethan we planned. the carefully made list turns after a few minutes to a mere guideline- at best. I know for a fact that there wasn’t even once that I managed walking down the vegetable and fruit aisles without suddenly remembering “I had to get strawberries or a specific brand of these lovely mushrooms”. this does still happen to me while shopping online- but not as frequently as it did while going to the store .
B. “oops- I forgot (this or that)!“…this happened to me soooooo many times…it is embarrassing to even admit that there were times I went to the store to get something and left with a huge grocery bag- that had nothing to do with the original things I needed to buy….this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me anymore: I start making my online list when I see I need something, and keep adding and changing throughout the 3 weeks between each delivery.
C. Items on sale and wise shopping: stores have their ways to get rid of certain items by presenting them as a “great deal!!” when actually- if you were to browse through the other companies selling the same product- or even the same brand selling this product in a bigger bag -you would have realised the deal provided wasn’t such a big deal. i found out that I was much more frugal when shopping online- looking- and finding-items I actually needed to buy- and were on actual sale- than my go to the store days.
D. When I shop online I am not tired or hungry – I have the time to ask myself if really need that product- or am I deluding myself about that 3 layer meringue “I am definitely going to make”. I also have the time to actually go to the pantry and check if I have the product at home or not.
E. What about that cost of fuel?
#3: The “vibe” issue- that is true- my ipad /phone can’t transfer the smell of fresh organic produce. but luckily I learned to use my imagination and get thinking about recipes while assembling my online shopping list- mind you the gap between each online order at our house is between 3 to 4 weeks.
Of course there are downsides.but the upsides in my opinion- outweigh them considerably.
I can’t avoid the fact that after 2 weeks- most of the fresh produce isn’t fresh anymore.
although I have great tips for keeping my fruit and veggies fresh, I am not superman- and cannot turn time backwards.
So- I look at this as an opportunity to be creative: I am out of tomatoes and cucumbers? no big deal- I will sprout a fresh batch of sprouts and add walnuts and quinoa instead! I am out of tofu? I will soak beans instead.
I look at every situation of food items shortage as an opportunity to go through my pantry and find forgotten treasures-or be innovative with what I have left. this is also a great opportunity to make sure groceries aren’t piling and expiring.
for example- make a bean stew: (with lots of garlic!!super healthy!)
Quick fix no fresh produce situation bean stew:
1/2 bag- about a cup before soaking- dried beans -soaked at least overnight then cook until tender (but not mushy). I usually have cooked beans waiting in my freezer . saves time.
1 can -canned tomatoes
1 garlic head -at least!peeled
2 large onions-diced
4-5 potatoes- regular or- even better– sweet potatoes.
frozen turmeric (I peel and dice fresh tumeric and freeze it in ice cubes on the very day my groceries arrive. this ensures I have fresh tumeric for at least a month.
My frozen vegetable stock- I batch cook and freeze ahead
condiments- salt&pepper, paprika and friends- to taste.
Start by pan frying onions in some vegetable oil, add the potatoes, then the garlic, let simmer for a few minutes then add boiling water to cover, add the canned tomatoes, let simmer a few minutes, add the pre cooked beans and condiments +tumeric, and let simmer until you taste and fall over with delight.
*Last tip- add a little bit of brown sugar -I mean a tiny bit- like 1/8 of tsp -the canned tomatoes are a little acidic and the tiny amount of sugar helps balance the overall taste.
I believe I cut up to 30% on my grocery bills since shopping only online, not to mention tons of time.
Try it-maybe it will work for you as well. the cooliflower.
Aspiring towards early retirement , for me, meant adjusting to a different life style- and a different spending regime- but- and this is the important point I am emphasizing- the change needed to be permanent- not “only until I reach early retirement- and then- the sky’s the limit “.
And why is that, pray tell?
Because if there is one important thing I’ve learned , although by not being a financial wizard of any kind- is that the power of saving money, is sometimes even greater than any stock-real estate- bank investment.
Give me 5 seconds I’ll convince you:
#1: Learning to save , and implementing it on your everyday household spendings- is entirely up to you. as opposed to investments of any kind- where you many times need to trust the impossible combination between other people (owning the business or establishment you are investing in) and luck (which , for me; has been a very discomforting thing to trust)
2: The state agents– such as taxes of any kind or shape- that are usually a “good friend” when you try to invest your money and make a few $, cannot interfere with your intentions to cut back on your expenses, actually- learning to cut back on your expenses has many tax deterrent benefits- for one thing- no VAT …
#3: learning to save is a skill that can improve your whole conduct– not only your bank account. think about polishing your decision -making process, your self confidence (as a direct result of gaining control over such an important aspect of our lives- the monetary aspect), and as a side effect- improving your math skills- and brushing the dust off some of your brain cells!
#4: well naturally- it’s cheaper – all investments cost money. you pay the investment company- the bank-the lawyer who writes the cotract etc’. besides the money invested-you almmost never avoid paying for the chance to make more money from your investment. and yes, a lot can be done to minimise these charges- compare and double check before making any investments- you worked hard to earn this money!
learning to save money, on the other hand- is free as a bird.
#5: and this is the most important aspect , I believe- is that rare are the people thattheir financial situation improves once retiring early. I am aware that some people pursue other careers, go viral on youtube or get a bazillion subscribers on their blog- but many of us ordinary people will need to adjust to 60% -70% of our previous income, and without making major life style changes, you might end up not managing at all.
I automatically think of another major lifestyle change- that needs to be permanent : change of eating habits towards healthier eating.
Many people get blood test results and listen to their doctor advising “cut back on fats/sweets/processed food etc- for a while“.
Many other gain weight and decide immediately to lose 5 pounds pronto by restricting something from their diet for a while.
Same goes to “12 week exercise routine” ‘ and other short term ways to deal with life changing situations.
What happens afterwards?
If you understand that your whole life is going to change- whether it is your income- your health or your diet, then please please take a moment to contemplate the momentafter.
Why bother ahead? because understanding the change is about to become permanent and not “until I reach a certain point”- be it early retirement or a certain weight or a particular race- is a huge factor in preparing towards that change cognitively- and emotionally.
Ok- now that I laid my humble opinion on lifelong major changes, it is time to revisit my household 2018 expenses -so as to learn a thing or two- or three- about my spending habits, for better or for worse.
*Last thing- the advantages of reflecting back on the past year of household expenses are obvious in terms of learning about your decision making, but also- we all tend to calculate certain obvious expenses into our monthly expenses sheet: food, gas, electricity, water, phone, cable, internet etc. when looking back at the whole year -you get to revisit other yearly expected expenses we tend to forget about: such as school fees, car shop , presents for the kids -etc. these are considerable expenses that need to be taken into consideration even on our monthly finance sheet- divided into 12, ofcourse.
*One last thing- my partner and I divide the household expenses equally- we don’t have a joint account because he doesn’t mind spending money (YOLO and all that s***) -read here how this works for us: Why I believe in seperate accounts.
So what you see here is not a basic household full expense sheet: I pay the electricity +internet bill and he pays an equal amount for water and property taxes. we split the food expenses equally. I pay for my pool entrance by myself (it’s my thing) and he pays for his cable tv ( I don’t watch any television- read here why I believe this is a great decision I made :How to get up early).
We each pay for our apparel, books, etc- and split our youngest’s education fees and aikido classes expenses between us.
You will notice a difference throughout the year- my second kid was home for a few months before going off abroad- and he is an avid carnivore so..also add to this my annual birthday +holiday presents for the kids- 1500$ total.
January 2018: 830$:
health insurance- 75$
pool entrance card (10 entrance )- 120$
(at this point the electricity bill was once every two months this changes soon)
electricity : 200$ (for 2 months)
gas- 30$+20$ toll road (this stopped throughout the year)
surgical procedure – 1000$
health- 75$(in a few months I will learn that I had to stop paying so much and began taking off some of the insurances)
phone- 20$(soon this bill will shrink considerably- wait and see)
March 2018: 963$
martial arts- for my youngest- 200$
April 2018: 4935$
pool entrance- 125$(I will be reimbursed 125$ at the end of the year so )
vaccinations for guatemala- 15$
*car for my oldest child- my share- 4000$
May 2018: 767$
the machanic alarmed: I had to change the tire- 350$
car shop- 200$
pool entrance- 125$
restaurant- my mothers birthday- I treated- 100$
IRobot parts- 60$ (will be good for another 2 years!)
*health- managed to let go finally of some of the insurances- 15$
coffee shop- my middle son insisted on eating something- he is not a frugal person to say the least of it! 15$
new baking oven- the previous one lasted for 6 years and collapsed- 300$- my half
sealing the roof before winter- 500$- my half
Guatemala – 2200$(flights +ninos de guatemala)
school books- 30$
school payments- 300$
internet-35$ (told you- managed to haggle with the company and lowered the price)
vipassana donation- 350$
martial arts for the youngest- 205$
health insurance for guatemala- 90$
train ticket to the airport- 6$ (instead of paying a bundle for long term parking and waiting for 45 minutes for the shuttle to the parking lot!)
new entrance door- the previous one almost fell apart…- 400$ -my half
Ok- now for some conclusions:
#1: the expenses are definitely not consistent: some months ended with a total of 557 $ and then there was that month with nearly 5000$. We (OK-I ) tend to forget unexpected expenses happen all the time– this year I pitched in financing a part of my oldest kid’s car, we had to buy a new baking oven, seal the roof and buy a new door. I also payed for a surgical procedure and had to pay for a new car tire. when you calculate your monthly spendings- remember those unexpected always come at a bad time and put some money aside ahead. reflecting on my expenses helped me realise that throwing a number based on usual everyday expenses is accountable only for half the actual expenses…(to be real with myself I summed the total amount (11,507$) and divided it by 12 (months)- 959$. this is my bench mark for next year. not my expected 600$ -this is the number I had in mind when going over my everyday expenses in my head.
#2: haggle -haggle-haggle! I haggled with both health supplier and internet supplier and lowered my bills.
#3: money is there to serve us- not the other way round.this year I gave 4000$ so as to buy my daughter’s car. sure- she could go on riding 4 buses (from home to work to university and back home)- but I managed to help make her hectic life a bit easier-and I am very glad I could do that.
Minimizing my wardrobe and travel habits meant cutting down drastically on my shoe collecting habit.
Instead of coveting every smart-looking shoe I laid my eyes on- I began looking for a combination of fashionable -comfortable- traveling-walking-hiking -easy to clean -quick drying-not super expensive shoes.
I did find a pair -and I am here to let you get acquainted with them.if this is of any interest to you- than continue reading.
*I remind you that I do not get anything from anyone, not any shoe company noramazon, this is my true and honest opinion, I paid full price on all my shoes, and I am sharing all this just because I am such a wonderful person.
Meet my Palladium shoes.
These lovelies are 4-5 years old, and have been through a lot.
The most surprising part was how well they climbed the Acatenango- a very slippery uphill and downhill hike, and they were marvellous!
Can’t forget that they look really good too- so no need to hide your hiking shoes under the table at dinner time.
Another huge plus- is that they are very light weight , made of sturdy material, and as far as I’m concerned they are sure winners- since they are totally vegan and not over priced. they wash in the washing machine and dry very quickly.
*Mind you they are notwater resistant though!
The true advantage of taking one multi-purpose pair of shoes on a trip is obvious (they are on you- nothing to put in your bag (and shoes take a lot of space)+ there is always that strange feeling you get when putting walking shoes in your bag- even if it is in a separate bag- it always feels a bit dirty…so none of that.
*These can be worn 2 ways- as ankle high- and calf high.
I think my point is made.
If you have any other ideas for multi-purpose shoes in a reasonable price -please share.
I am fully aware that some people are not winter fans. but I certainly am.
As a garden owner- the sound of rain makes me happy, as a fireplace owner- temperature drop makes me happy as well.
Winter does have its downsides, that is true, but careful preparation and awareness can minimise those down sides- and we are all about minimalism, right?
A fair warning: the advice about to be distributed here is old, granny-like, non fashionable, and super effective!!! so if you are all about “what are people gonna say when they see me do this or that”- well then- perhaps you are wasting your precious time reading this post. or change your attitude and start doing what is good for you-even if it not considered “cool” by the “right people”.
#1: Get a hot water bottle!
This is my hot water bottle- fancy, I know.
When I get up at 4 am , in winter time, the first 2 things I do are getting myself a hot cup of black coffee, and-since the boiling water are waiting for someone to make use of them- I fill my hot water bottle- and snuggle quietly , waiting for my senses to fully wake up so I can start my day.
Don’t dismiss this till you’ve tried it.
This thing can warm you up in seconds, it helps with back aches and stomach aches (warming up the place), sore muscles , etc.
Plus- it’s super cheap. and to maximise its utility simply warm up double the amount every time you make yourself a cup of tea, and when it gets cold- use the water for your plants,, cleaning or whatever.
#2: Always leave a window open!
There are tons of people around me that make sure all windows are sealed tightly as soon as temperatures drop a little. whenever I try to explain to them that this is exactly the reason they are all sick-they allow germs to gave close and immediate access to many people at once without even the slightest chance of anyone escaping due to lack of air- they look at me astounded and say : but its cold! if you are cold- you get sick!”
Well I am no doctor, but I believe it is basic knowledge that “disease is spread by infection-not by temperature drop” . if anything- as far as I know- low temperatures prevent/delay germs from spreading, since basically germs are fond of warm temperatures-and dislike cold ones.
I am certainly not advocating snow baths or anything- just make sure that wherever you are- there is an open window for fresh air ventilation. even a small window.
And if you are cold- than I would frugally advise on a fire place, or if you don’t have one yet- use tip #1!
#3: wear layers!
Besides it being very fashionable , this is a super efficient way to get warm -(something to do with air being caught between the layers )- and -if temperatures change -you can accommodate yourself by taking off or adding layers as you wish.
#4: keep your feet warm!
This is something I used to always hear from my mother- “keep your feet warm and your whole body will be warm!”- and I must say she was right. about this anyway…
Plus there are such cute socks around- why let your feet freeze?
#5: When your throat hurts- gargle salted hot water.
This is something I did as a child’ did with my older kids, and still do!
It might not be the most pleasant thing on earth -and yet it is effective!
I put 1 tsp of salt in 1 cup of boiling water, make sure all the salt dissolves , and when possible to gargle- gargle the whole thing .
If you are trying to avoid pharmacy bought lozenges for whatever reason -and I can think of a few- than this is your perfect natural replacement!
#6: Drink a lot of tea! tea will cure anything!
Well personally I believe this is absolutely true.
When ill -drinking lots of fluid will help you feel better, when cold- it will warm you up. when in need of emotional comfort-this is a soothing cup of niceness, and when adding ginger and lemon- it’s also very healthy.
#7: When ill- eat “chicken” soup ( I mean vegan “chicken soup, of course).
I am aware that some people believe that a “proper chicken soup” (meaning made of actual chicken) is necessary for you to get better from a cold , but I believe the benefits are not in the chicken, but in the hot -vegetable containing -fluid, so just make a pot of spicy veggie soup, feel free to add some miso/lentils for extra taste . (if we are on the subject- here is a link to a great recipe by the “minimalist baker”– great vegan recipes!-misosoup- the minimalistbaker.com.)
#8: If your back aches- don’t lay still all day!
I used to believe that when your body tells you it is unwell-you need to listen’ and rest-rest-rest.
I still believe that is true, but recently I experienced a bad back ache, and when searching on -line I discovered that the immediate total rest in bed I imposed on myself- was in fact delaying my recovery. (just reminding that I am no doctor or chiropractor whatever- use your brain as always to decide whether to use my tips or ditch them. or simply search online for yourselves. just in case -here is my disclaimer)
Apparently- according to what I read- when your back aches, you need to keep it in motion, massage the aching spots and gradually -in a few days- it will get better. when in Guatemala, I had a bad back ache, and it didn’t get better until I looked online for back -ache exercises ‘ and massaged my lower back with the only thing I had that resembled the tennis ball they recommended for massaging- a bar of soap , wrapped with a soft wool sock. I used the bed cover at my homestay as a “yoga mat” -for the back exercises, and after a few days of light exercise and massage- I could get on the 3 flong flights back home…
*Add tip #1 to your exercises and you will feel much better in even shorter time.
These are the 8 great natural tips for today- feel free to share any great tips you have!
As I grow (older and )wiser, I realise that there is so much truth in the simple & common phrase:”your perspective shall determine your experience”.
Every incident I bump into – or bumps into me- I breathe, contemplate its consequences, and try to look at it in a positive way.
What I learned over the years is simple- bordering embarrassing to share -and yet I will share nonetheless:
If I get myself worked up about something unpleasantthat happened , things will generally deteriorate quickly into “a situation” that needs “handling” , “getting over”, and “stop obsessing about”.
whereas if I breathe, try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective- or simply from another perspective- I can mitigate my disappointment-anger-frustration, to minimum, and sometimes- (has happened)- even end up laughing at the whole thing .
Traveling to Guatemala last month, I decided to book all my flights with KLM, a trust-worthy and reliable company, that had the best mixture of :minimumtravel time- best price- yet reliable company .
The flights to Guatemala were set in perfect order and timeline: 3 flights with a 1.5-2 hour wait between each flight -just long enough to make sure a slight delay won’t leave you at the next airport and short enough to let you get to your destination in reasonable time. ( by the way many travel companies advise not to book ongoing flights that are less than 2-3 hours from your previous flight, and some airports are so big and confusing- that you thank yourself for following this advice..)
But- the flights back home- from Guatemala- had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam.
My first reaction was- “what??are they serious? I will be tired, anxious, homesick, unwashed, wearing the same clothes for over 24 hours and crunched up from the previous flights!”
But then I decided to let go of my fixations and try a different angle:
Why not change scenery and enjoy what Amsterdam has to offer? 10 hours is enough to leave the airport , get to the city and see some interesting things!
So I searched on line, and found out that the well-known Rijksmuseum has an interesting new exhibition featuring a talented photographer called stacii Samidin, who photographed many typical coffee shops -a place of refuge, culture and relaxation.exhibition open until january 20, 2019.(entrance fee 17.5 euros fod adults) .
(this picture is from the rijksmuseum site-wanted you to get a glimpse )
The rijks itself is a very interesting museum, and I spent about 3 hours wandering around and totally enjoying myself.
Then I went to get myself something to eat.
Amsterdam has many options for vegans, and this lovely place is a 7 min walk from the museums. cosy and inviting vegetarian &vegan soups&salads place. reasonable price I believe (I paid 5.60 € for this bowl of very filling tasty hot soup).
*The easiest ( and frugal, of course) way to get to the museumplein (where the major museums are conveniently located very close to each other):
Step out of Schiphol, turn right, and you will see many bus stops. look for platform B 15-19, (bus 397 to the museums), and apparently right there next to the relevant bus stop (B17) there is a small red van- with a nice ticket vendor- you ask for a round trip to the city( museums), pay 10 euros -(please don’t throw your ticket- you will need it for the trip back) and wait maybe a minute or two- and the very convenient bus arrives…
It is a 30 min ride, and the stop is right on the threshold of the museums. now this is why I think taking this bus is better than taking the train.
While I love the idea of a 30 min walk from the train station to the museums, some days are rainy and cold for a 30 min walk, and sometimes you don’t have the extra time for the walk. (and sometimes you are simply not up for a walk).
But what about my luggage???
How can you wander around with all your stuff ? well you don’t have to.
I paid 6 € and left my now 10 kilos duffel at the baggage storage at schiphol, and enjoyed my luggage free 6 hours in Amsterdam .
The baggage storage is located at the bottom floor -go to the Information booth between arrivals 1 and arrivals 2- and in front of you -there is a staircase. go down and see the very organized baggage storage. just don’t lose your ticket- this is how you claim your baggage back- take a photo of it just in case. (as you can see I follow my own advice as a way to promote my advice).
I returned to the airport tired but very pleased with the unexpected gift I gave myself- a totally different culture from the one I just had the pleasure of visiting, which made it super fun to visit especially on this connecting flight!
People- life has many surprises up our allies. it’s up to us to either reject them- and get upset and angry -or embrace the unexpected change of plans- maybe you’ll end up getting a great day!
*Ok -I simply couldn’t let you all leave without sharing my version of that super tasty soup I ate at “soup &zo” in Amsterdam.
I have no idea if my version is the way they prepare this soup at the restaurant- but it turned out great and easy to make- so go ahead and try it:
*4 sweet potatoes-peeled , diced and boiled till tender.
*400 ml coconut cream . or coconut milk. or soy milk.
*curry paste- to taste- I like it spicy- taste and decide -but the curry is a must!
*2 large onions -diced
*3 or more garlic cloves- the more the merrier
*4-6(or more- to taste) cups of vegetable stock /water -you can add some soy milk if you like
*100 gram bag of peanuts: I didn’t have peanuts, so I substituted for plain natural peanut butter (yes I did- and it turned out great!)
*3-4 ripe bananas! yessssss bananas
*coconut oil -a few tsp. or canola oil. or vegan butter.
*salt , pepper, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric- use your favourite condiments- add to taste
Start- like all soups start- with frying the onions +garlic+”opening” the curry in the few tsp of coconut oil .add the peanuts and immerse- then add the liquids( veggie stock and coconut cream). after a few minutes- add the boiled sweet potatoes and the rest of the condiments.
Blend everything together with a hand blender- (I have the brown hand blender and I love it- I blend soup while on the stove!).
let simmer -all the while tasting and correcting and blending with a wooden spoon.
when you are satisfied with the taste- give it that extra thing- with adding your smashed bananas. simmer for a few minutes more- and turn off the gas.
If the soup thickens too much while cooling down – add more liquid- water or soy milk if you wish. or vegetable stock.
This freezes really well- just label it or you will find yourself in front of the freezer wondering what that orange thing is.