The Catalyst for Homemade Bagels

May 14, 2010 I left my super-cushy job at the bank without another job lined up. Besides being a huge leap of faith it was the first major decision Bruce and I had made together since getting married. I was absolutely miserable, and by virtue of being my husband, so was Bruce.

Making the decision to leave the bank was easy, but executing it was a little more nail-biting. I was unable to find a suitable job for after I left the bank. Options like collections and sales, although lucrative and available, were off the table. Why leave the bank to do exactly the things I hated?

Obviously our income took quite a hit when my paychecks stopped. We had been living large – meeting friends at favorite restaurants twice a week, grilling steaks just because, and not questioning online purchases. All of that came to a screeching halt in May and we had to quickly adjust our priorities. The adjustment period wasn’t as difficult as expected. We were both sold on the idea of me working a job that I loved that we were able to meet dealing with a huge income cut together.

There were a few main areas that we attacked in order to save some serious money. First, we looked at our outrageous cell phone bill. I’m embarrassed to say that we both really wanted Droids and we were willing to pay out the nose for them – to the tune of $160/month. Now I’m a huge fan of Verizon’s pay-as-you-go plan and my bill is under $50. We’re lucky that Bruce is able to have a work phone, but if he wasn’t I’m sure he’d be using a burner like me.We also sold our second car. With me not working that summer and then taking a part time job as a preschool teacher we were able to make this work easily. Again, we were blessed that Bruce has a work vehicle. The amount of money we saved on car insurance would be worth any hassle that was created by only having one car.

Next we attacked our food budget and we went from eating out whenever the mood hit us to a meal plan and tight budget. This was one of the areas that we were able to make a big impact and it was exciting to see the numbers drop each month until they stabilized where they are now. The last major change for us was to stop playing with the thermostat! Seriously, there are stats all over the internet about how much money can be saved by setting it a degree or two higher in the summer and lower in the winter, and they are true. Sweaters are a one-time purchase, and nothing beats snuggling under blankets while watching a movie in the dead of the winter.

By cutting these four areas we were able to save a ton of money, and we were pushed outside of our normal comfort zones. I have always loved to cook and bake but never really had the time when I was working at the bank. Now that I teach preschool I’m able to spend a lot more time in the kitchen. This is not only good for our budget but also for our health! I stopped buying any sort of bread at the store a while ago and love that I know exactly what ingredients go into C’s food. One of her favorite things to wake up to in the morning is fresh bagels with homemade apple jelly.


Homemade Bagels

1/2 T yeast

1/2-1 T brown sugar, plus 1 T for boiling

3/4 C warm water

2 C flour

1 T salt

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and proof yeast. In the bowl of a mixer add flour and salt and mix for 10 minutes, scraping down hook as necessary. Let rise in greased and covered bowl on counter for 1 1/2 hours, or in fridge overnight. When ready, form into 4-6 bagels and rest under tea towel while you bring water and extra brown sugar to a gentle boil. Add bagels in batches, cooking for 2 minutes on one side and then 1 minute on the other. Bake in preheated oven at 425 for 25-30 minutes.

Although they only have to rise on the counter for 1 1/2 hours, putting them together the night before and then boiling and baking them in the morning means fresh bagels for everyone!

Working at the bank was not all bad. I made enough money to be able to afford buying a house by myself at 23, met Bruce, and learned what truly makes me happy in a job. Quitting it however, pushed me to find a job I love, gave me time to explore other interests (including lots of time with C!), and pushed me to learn how to make homemade bagels. Worth it? Totally.


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