August was an unexpected tough month for us budget wise. The beau took a mini vacation with his family to the Thousand Islands and I ate out a couple of times after my Thursday night trail runs. It’s hard to resist Blaze pizza and a cold beer! On top of that, I bought a new pair of hiking boots, the beau got his 6-week massage, I renewed my ARE membership and tried out a hot yoga class, and we bought tickets to a Mets game. Luckily, for other items such as utilities and essential oil expenses we came in under budget, so it helped even things out. But food-wise, we were about $350 over budget. Ugh!
When I posted on social media last Monday that we didn’t have any money left in our food budget, I should have clarified: we did have money for groceries but we didn’t want to spend it on groceries. Any “extra” income we have each month I deposit toward debt and the idea of further dipping into that stash (remember, we’ve already taken an additional $350 out), was not appealing to me. Sunday night I told the beau “zero dollars spent on groceries for the remainder of the month.” And luckily, he jumped on board! P.s… thank you to the three people who privately reached out to us asking if we needed help or offered to buy/give us food. Seriously, the kindest. AND these people aren’t the closest of friends, just goes to show how kind their hearts are = I need more of them, meaning those three people, in my life!
Back to food: not willing spend a penny on more food meant we needed to get creative and use up items from our freezer and pantry. Let me tell you, two out of the four dinners were some of my favorite we’ve cooked in a long time!
Monday: pasta with jarred TJ sauce and TVP
Tuesday: a tomato curry over basmati rice (we veganized this recipe = a keeper!)
Wednesday: we used a frozen (very old) package of kale from a previous Field Goods delivery and turned it into a creamy pesto sauce, served over pasta with sauteed mushrooms and roasted cherry tomatoes – this is going to be a repeat recipe for the two other bags of kale in the freezer!
Thursday: while I grabbed a bite to eat at the potluck ARE STS BBQ, the beau was home and whipped up some quick seitan ribs with a side of cabbage and farro salad. NOT what I was expecting! It looked so delicious, I had to give it a try… and there was so much, we got a couple of leftover meals with it into September.
Lunches mostly consisted of shakes and oatmeal, breakfasts mostly consisted of leftovers.
Other new recipes we tried this month:
- a creamy carbonara via Bosh : oh, this was bangin’! Definitely a keeper, but I definitely have to switch back to a nut milk that doesn’t have any vanilla in it.
- although this isn’t a new recipe, I only make it once or twice a year: tomato cobbler with cheddar biscuits
- a red ratatouille risotto also via Bosh: delicious! I only wished the zucchini was cut into smaller pieces (I’m not the biggest zucchini fan) but other than that, great flavor. I’d make it again at least once more this season.
- a Thai quinoa salad with a ginger peanut dressing: found this recipe via Pinterest but never saved it – it was great but we don’t need a specific recipe to move forward. Pretty simple flavors, a great summer / cold meal.
- slow cooker enchilada orzo: we veganized this recipe and while it was easy to make and convenient for a Friday evening, it tasted very similar to the taco pasta I make probably twice a month, but not as good. It was creamy, the beau does love orzo, but it just didn’t do it for me.
Two nights of the month we spent camping, which meant cooking over a fire. Two meals we tried for the first time in our cast iron pan were nachos and pizza! The pizza was so so good! One tip we learned: divide the dough and make two pizzas, otherwise you’ll get one THICK crusted pizza. We didn’t complain though, the flavor was delicious and the dough was crunchy on the bottom and fully cooked thru, we’ll definitely make pizza again. The nachos were pretty easy as well, we made a nacho cheese sauce prior to leaving and brought it along in the cooler. Stack, warm and eat.
I’m very much so looking forward to September and starting fresh. We’ve got some big goals for our debt and I made a new spreadsheet to track our progress; I don’t think there’s anyone more excited than myself to start paying off the bills! Ha! When it came time for me to start paying back my student loans, I set a goal and crushed it! It was difficult because I was basically making minimum wage but I made it work, often picking up more than one job. Now that I’ve inherited the beau’s student loans (what’s yours is mine when you get married, right?), I wanted to do the same. He’s got about double what I had, he’s got a car payment and I have a pesky credit card balance from years ago when I was careless: $89k in total. You’ll hear it here first, folks : we will have that balance paid off within 5 years!
I know it’s not easy for a lot of people to talk about their debt and finances (including the beau), but that’s not the case for me. I’m open about it because I feel like EVERYONE has debt and EVERYONE has the potential of financial freedom. And I feel like if adults / parents talk about finances, then children, students and college graduates would be more equipped to make wiser choices. Having been a loan counselor at a local college, I know a lot of students are clueless at graduation in regards to money AND what starting salaries are for their given field… let alone how much money they actually borrowed to get a degree. Not once did I complain about my loans and I’m not complaining now about the beau’s: we earned the education and need to pay the bills.
Follow along as we crush our goals and set ourselves up for financial freedom! 1/21