9 Frugal Wins and 3 Frugal Fails – Sep & October 2017


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Happy Monday! It’s been about 2 months since our last frugal win and frugal fail post.

In case you missed it:

7 Frugal Wins – August 2017

One Perpetual Frugal Fail

Ms. FAF brought up a good point, I didn’t want to throw out just any frugal wins and fails without stockpiling up some notable savings and practical lessons first. Our usual drill here is wealth building lessons and frugality through first-hand personal experience.

Frugal Wins

1. Airline Tickets

I’m so happy about this! We bought airline tickets for Christmas this year, early! Before they get really expensive.

Last year, we waited a bit too long (towards the end of November) before buying plane tickets for Christmas. Bad idea. It worked out cheaper to drive down to California instead. Jared, Grace and I spent 2 days trapped in a small sedan car. The snow was heavy and driving became a bit dangerous as we drove into Oregon. A lot of roads were closed so we had to take the long, scenic 101 down. It was a tediously, beautiful ride in a “that was a fun experience, but let’s never – ever – do that again” way. No dog (or human) want to be stuck in a car that long ever again.

This year, we smartened up. We spent $146 on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco for two adults. Last year, it would have cost us $250 for two adults because we dilly-dallied.

For the return flight, we held off booking a flight back to Seattle because airlines tend to add-on more flights later on so we waited a week before we caught a good deal. We booked the flight back for only $11.20 out of pocket – thanks to some credit card reward hacking. It would have been $158 originally minus the $11 in taxes and fees, which is still really good for a flight on New Year’s Eve for two adults.

The only downside is our flight to San Francisco takes off at 7 AM on Christmas Day which means we will be leaving for the airport at 5 AM or just spending the entire night in the airport itself. I’ve always wanted to sleep over at an airport 🙂 but Jared seems less excited about that.

2. Closing Windows During Winter

What our bedroom deck looked like last winter. Look at those stunning evergreens 🙂 those trees are much, much older than me.

Living with parents comes with a lot of benefits, my dad is helping us keep food costs low. But there are also downsides to his old habits. My dad has a tendency to open all the windows in the house; usually, it’s fine but things are getting nippy. It’s nearing winter so the temperatures have dropped down to 40s and 50s in Seattle.

Our downstairs Airbnb guests are pumping heat, the heat then goes right out the window because my dad insists on keeping all the windows wide open. Our double pane windows are completely useless against elements if they’re open.

To him, airing out has something to do with chi (Chinese word for energy). I don’t care what chi is – all I see is a very high heating bill at the end of the month. We finally convinced him to stop opening windows during winter after I showed him our heating bills before he came and after he came to stay with us.

Tip: Double pane windows make a big difference in utility bills. The difference is almost unfair. They’re usually very expensive to install so if you’re house shopping, look for double pane windows.

3. D.I.Y Repairs

Hubby also recaulks the bathtub. It’s not the caulking itself, it’s removing the old caulk that makes the entire chore horrible.

The sink at our rental property has been clogged for, well, about as long as we have had it. Hubby put it off for a very long time but I lamented to him that our guests were complaining. It was not professional. He finally spent this Saturday figuring out what was clogged. He cleared the P-trap in both of our sinks at home and rental, then he installed a new tee pipe on our own sink at home.

Figuring out the causes of clogs with the help of exploratory learning (oh, great Google in the sky) and YouTube is a big money saver. We did not have to pay for our plumber to come out. The only item that cost us money was buying a new tee pipe ($5.37) from Home Depot. It’s a frugal win in comparison to the $100 base fee every time our plumber comes out.

Related: Bad Plumbing? Slow Drainage? Ant Invasion? Should You Hire A PRO Or DIY?

4. City Subsidized Lights

The last porch lights on our rental died out and we both had the hardest time finding out what bulbs it supports because we couldn’t get the recessed lights out of the socket. Cue about 30 minutes on YouTube watching some random guys taking recessed light bulbs out of the ceiling…

You know why I don’t talk much real estate on this blog besides a brief mention of it in our monthly income reports? Because it is infuriating how much “bits and pieces” of work there is when it comes to ownership. Houses are work. It’s not for the lazy, and we’re lazy. Jared and I miss the easy days of renting to be honest, even when Airbnb is doing good.

Anyway, the city of Seattle subsidizes energy-efficient lights so instead of ordering from Amazon, we went to our local Home Depot to pick up a pack of subsidized lights for cheap. $8 instead of $11. We paid with our gift card (thank you credit card rewards, once again) so it didn’t cost anything out-of-pocket.

5. Sample Box Coupons

I completely forgot I had Amazon sample box coupons to use! I cashed out almost all 3 of my sample boxes so most of those items essentially free. I made sure to buy items that were staples like toothpaste, dog food, and shampoo.

Related: A Thrifty $ Amazon Haul

4 packs of toothpaste – $0
free-items-amazon 2
Dog food – $0
free-items-amazon 3
More dog food – $0
free-items-amazon 4
4 packs of Dove Men shampoo and conditioner – $3.86


6. 100 Free eBay Listing

For basic sellers, eBay gives you 50 free listing a month. But they run 100 free listing promotions often so if you keep your inbox in check, they send that offer. I currently have 74 items on sale.

Definitely made more from flipping than blogging…aha…maybe I should look into monetization efforts.

My 60-day average is $718 which looks great but it actually fell flat of my $1,500 goal. I’m spreading myself a bit thin across Airbnb, Rover, eBay, and blog – so I should cut myself some slack. *Pats thy self*

I am almost out of clutter which is great and things are moving along. Thrifting is fun when I have the time for it. The accounting is the hard part. Soap asked me if I got the idea from Girl Boss (show?) – I have no idea what that is…I’m not a boss, I’m a (semi) normal, happy girl.

7. Leftover Frozen Food from Airbnb Guests

One of our Airbnb guests left a ridiculous amount of frozen food (pizza pockets, chicken nuggets, fries, taquitos — oh my!) I’m guessing they couldn’t take them on the plane back so I…ate it. Haha. Free food is free food!

Related: 10 Benefits on Hosting Your Own Airbnb Besides Money!


8. Healthy Cheapskate

Did you know I won the 3rd place in the cheapskate contest hosted by Doubling DollarsI walked 5.8 miles home instead of taking the bus since my electronic bus fare transfer timed out.

In my defense, I timed it well and would have made it but the bus itself was 5 minutes late. I had to walk 5.8 miles – it’s a matter of principle.

Tip: whenever someone says principle, they really means money. 😁

Almost every day this past week, I’ve been ditching the bus and walking home. It’s only 1.6 miles and I can use the exercise. My weight is nearing the highest it’s ever been. I’m currently 108 lbs when I’m usually 100 lbs.😬

What happened to my kick-ass metabolism…curses getting older – curses!

9. Regifting for a House Warming


We’re shameless re-gifters. The house-warming date snuck up on us so I threw some things together. It turned out great because they were items I received for Airbnb last Christmas. I’m not sure what the family was thinking though, they gifted us bath bombs – our Airbnb guests shouldn’t be using bath bombs or soap bars. Keeping things in easy to pump bottles is the only thing a host should do or else there will be a scattered mess. I don’t exactly encourage bath in the first place because then I would have to scrub the tub after they’re done…

We regifted the bath bombs and handmade bath soaps and our friends dug the novelty of the craft. They’re like those cute pencil erasers that you collect as a kid. Too cute to use.


Frugal Fails

1. Issuing Partial Refund on eBay

I sold a sweater of mine and the buyer left me a glowing review but the next day she messaged me that I didn’t tell her the item had a hole in the sleeves. She asked for a partial refund and I issued it, it was completely my fault. I’m thankful she was so understanding, I don’t know how I missed that. (Well I have a clue, just spreading myself a bit thin hehe.)

Related: Frugal Fail? – Acquired a eBay/Thrifting Addiction


2. Not Selling My Website

As I mentioned before, my friend Soap and I had an eCommerce business for a year. I folded after seeing how completely impossible it was to scale up. There was also a ton of smaller issues like dealing with taxes and time zones. Soap being from Canada did not make the paperwork easy for my husband.

I kept our website open and posted it for sale. It was worth $2,000 according to our volume of sales but I had no biters without wanting me to be directly involved in the process of setting up. No, thank you.

I lowered it to $300, after what looks like a perfect match fell through, I just folded. It was not worth risking $140 in new charges that would have deployed in a few more days.

I definitely could have put in more effort curating sales but this blog has been a large and delightful time suck.

3. Jared’s Hair Cut By Pros

We do cut our own hair. But this is the first time Jared will be getting a real haircut in a salon. He is currently rocking the beach bum hair, don’t care (aka Jesus) look right now.

His appointment is today and it will cost about $40 after tip. Not frugal. Thankfully it’s a one-time thing. Jared’s going to a professional this time because his parents have told him to get a haircut for 2 years now. A nice, clean haircut is supposed to be a present for his dad’s birthday next week.

haircut-for-men-thin-hair-curly, haircut for balding men, thinning hair men
Update! That’s his $35 haircut by Laurie Workman in Seattle. Beautiful work. Highly recommended. What a handsome boy.


It’s always nice to have more frugal wins than fails especially when those frugal fails are relatively minor compared to the wins. Our frugal fail total lost us less than $200 but just one frugal win (the plumbing situation) saved us at least $200 already. It’s also fun to reflect on how little these frugal fails are in the long run. Hubby and I had a tough time coming up with fails because we always try to be as efficient as possible.

I also notice how completely nonsensical I am – I’m willing to say bye-bye to $300 but I will walk 1.6 miles so I don’t have to pay $2.50. I hope I’m not the only person that does that.

28 thoughts on “9 Frugal Wins and 3 Frugal Fails – Sep & October 2017”

  • My MIL likes to keep the windows open even when it’s freezing cold outside or scorching hot outside too! We’ve also told her it’s not good for our utility bills, and she knows it now. Ahhh are we twin families? Our parents cook almost the same thing and do almost the same things around the house. @[email protected]

    I think your dad is also growing a garden in the backyard. My MIL is doing the same thing. We have green onions, radish, and some other veggies. I’m just glad we have some free veggies right here at home lol.

    You have so many frugal wins. Sounds like a victory to me! xoxo
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…5 Things I Stopped Doing Thanks To My Personal Finance Blog

  • Yes, same with the window thing here even though it’s getting chilly. I too love travel having with credit cards. We are obligated at some point to visit the great grandparents in Canada and China after having our son, so we have been taking advantage of Chase bonuses to rack up points (3 credit cards for 150k points in the past 6 months, teehee). I’m also a fan of Chase freedom. Do you have the freedom unlimited card as well? Sign up bonus is $150 for $500 and extra for authorized user I think. I can send you the link if you want to check it out
    Sylvia | Mommy Over Work recently posted…Lady Bloggers Share Top Tips to Overcome the Blogging Hurdle

    • Hahaha I know right. I’m digging into a jumbo fresh from the oven from the freezer lasagna right now. Oy, I really need to stop. This will be the last unhealthy thing I eat. Really… really…until Christmas 😆

  • Trying to time the purchase of plane tickets is a full-time job. It’s crazy how much fares vary. Our plane tickets from Buffalo to Orlando on the day after Christmas were $450 EACH! And that’s a steal compared to the flight from Toronto to Orlando. My mom’s flight from Atlanta to Orlando – $39. Go figure!

  • We have a vacation rental and our guests only leave nasty beer like bud light, I mean you can’t give that stuff away.
    Hubby keeps our thermostat at 60 and tells me to put on a sweater.
    We did a garden this year with eight new raised beds and had a lot of blueberries which filled our freezer.
    We are not flying anywhere for Thanksgiving or Christmas and as it is driving distance and staying with family, that keeps our travel expenses lower. A lot of DIY projects this year, and a couple left for winter prep before the snow flies here. Hubby gave me a haircut this weekend, I was overdue, my ends needed to be trimmed to get the splits and be evened up. He does it for me every couple months, my boys get their haircuts monthly and hubby cuts his own. I don’t see how he can do such a good job sitting on the bathroom counter with two mirrors, but he does his own pretty good. He braided my hair yesterday before work and my coworker commented he did a nice job and I told her he cut it this last weekend, she said she is coming to my house as she needs a haircut. I texted hubby and told him he should start doing it as a side business and he said he was already too busy with his current job and the projects at home. But he is good about it, he already cuts my mother’s hair and has given haircuts to a couple of my friends, so if she actually does stop by he would tell her to have a seat, get his kit bag of hair tools out, cape her and give her a haircut. My one friend does send him a birthday card and a Christmas card to say thank you, so it is appreciated.

    • “Hubby keeps our thermostat at 60 and tells me to put on a sweater.”
      Haha oh I can relate, that was one of the first things hubby told me when we moved in together. I think your husband would make a good stylist! Perhaps a side hustle haha!

      • Your husband keeps it at 60 as wel? Better not tell my hubby as I tell him it is not normal. Mine also is big on shutting off lights in rooms not being used. He always chases the kids upstairs to turn off the lights if they are not in their room. And showers, he is big on reminding them that they don’t need 30 minute showers, he tells them he is going to shut off the hot water if they are taking too long, he does take the electric and gas bill seriously. I mentioned the side business of doing the hair to him and so have a couple friends of mine. Thing is he would need to be licensed and would have to put in a certain number of hours either working for someone under supervision or in a school. A serious pay cut compared to his current job. And then he could not be so picky on whose hair he will do. He told his sister in law he wouldn’t touch hers as it was badly damaged from overprocessing with the bleach and bad color job. He didn’t want to be blamed for it looking bad as it was already destroyed. So I guess it is almost like a hobby, but one that saves money versus being an expense. A couple months ago we were invited to a barbecue at a friend’s house and she told us a time to be there and asked that hubby bring his shears, and last night my mom asked if she could come for dinner tonight and she mentioned she really needs a trim. So for the number of haircuts he does, it wouldn’t make good financial sense as he still wouldn’t accept money from friends.

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