7 Frugal Wins (But No Fails Yet Since I’m Awesome) – August 2017

A’hoy gentle readers! We’re doing our first ever frugal wins post today (idea robbed from Frugal Asian Finance).

This is disguised as a general life update as well. I would have squished this into my family income reports but our August income report is going to take some explaining…

You know what’s funny? In our family income reports, I only write about what I spent money on yet I don’t discuss the money I don’t spend. I was only telling half the story!

When I was writing this I thought to myself…where would I draw the line of frugality? I think we’re pretty frugal already, there’s not much to cut if you look at our budget…so I came up with my definition for frugal wins.

Frugal Win

[froo-gull wen]

A fortunate event (or series of events) by the frugality gods that either granted us the ability to forgo the expense or an eligible money-saving alternative that we made within our own freewill.

7 Frugal Wins (‘Cause All I Do is Win 😉)

1. Dine Out Alternatives

We haven’t gone out to eat in about 2 weeks. We haven’t had a real sit down restaurant meal in 3 weeks. It’s unbelievable, I know.

Jared has the Epstein Barr virus (reactivated). We’ve been taking it easy. He had swollen lymph nodes for a week and the second week he finished his working day napping in the nap room (by the way, how unfair is it that Google has that.)

If you’ve read my month-long budget friendly Zero Day Challenge, then you will see I clearly have an appetite for good food. I don’t use the word problem because I don’t want to admit it’s a problem. But I do try to cut back sometimes, when I can. I have already accepted I will be spending $100,000 in eating out for the next 30 years of my life (which if you calculate with compound interest then that means I will basically eat $1 million dollars worth of restaurant food by myself.😬)

I found food substitute ideas through Ms. FAF and put my own psychological spin on it to trap myself:

Depending on the rarity and complexity of my food craving, I do a brief mental summary of “is this worth the $65 I will blow or can I make this myself at home?” If it’s Korean BBQ over  real charcoal flame, then it’s not something I can dupe at home. We do not have a charcoal grill. Charcoal takes a long while to get started and it is a fire hazard in our townhouse where outdoor backyard space is limited. There is also no way I can come up with 9 little side dishes in time.

But today, I had another craving for fries. I could have gone to the nearest McDonald’s and gotten an order of fries but I decided fries is something that is easy to make so I went to my local wholesale club and purchased 3 lbs of frozen beer battered shoe-string fries on sale for a fraction of the price. Frugal win!

2. Cut Our Phone Bill

We decided to lessen our dependency on AT&T. Jared’s phone is covered by his employer and I don’t use my phone much so we decided to go with a cheaper pay-as-you-go plan for just me. It’s going to be about $31 dollars a month now as opposed to $88 a month. The savings comes out to be about $684 a year. I can’t believe we waited months to do this. It was annoying having to deal with AT&T but for $684 in savings a year? I’ll even kiss your grandmother.

3. Home Haircuts

I lopped off about 4-5 inches of my hair. My hair grows really fast, I don’t know why. I save a nice bunch of coins when I cut my hair at home. I rather be eating that money in the food court next to the salon to be 100% honest. The walk-in salon places are intimdating. The reservation only salon places are intimdating and expensive.

Jared and I have never stepped into a salon. We’re shy people. I’m not in an office setting where my looks will take part in my success. I’m lucky to be blessed with a head of thick low maintenance hair that is obedient and easy to groom. Jared is an engineer – as long as he bathes 3x a week, he’s up to par with he rest of the engineers.

Mini Rant: Beauty isn’t easy to fake and a few swipes with a scissor isn’t going to do it. Our culture, symmetry, topography, the “average” of human features is instinctively scanned the moment another person looks. Beauty is biologically driven and devastatingly easy to gauge. We dedicated a section of our brain (the fusiform area) just for facial recognition. We can recall the average attractiveness of a room full of people within seconds because that’s how quickly we process human faces. I learned this as an undergraduate and I thought it was interesting. Of all the things we could use our brain for…it reserves a specific place for the human face. Not raccoon faces, dog faces or cat faces. Just humans!

4. Reusing Dog Toys

Poor Grace, her stingy tight wallet dog-mom refuses to give little puppers a new toy…😳

After we started feeding Grace little bits of table scraps – she stopped eating dog treats. She only eats her staple of kibble and the bits of human food we give her from time to time. Pretty cost-effective!

Now I stopped buying her toys too. It’s simply useless. She has an entire box full of toys – 5 of which she plays with out of like…35 toys? I know Grace enough I can pinpoint her favorite types of toys but it’s simply not worth it for me to keep buying them when the survival rate of those toys are so low.

She only likes soft toys…but she has sharp teeth. Out of the 5 toys she plays with, 3 of those have been torn open and now she’s just chewing on the husk of the (un)stuffed animals. There is 1 octopus stuffed toy that is half broken. Grace has another octopus stuff toy that is still intact but starting to show signs of wear. Talk about flushing money down the toilet…

I’ve sewed together toys for her before but the moment she gets it back, she tears it back open. In the end, I just gave up on sewing. We had to throw away a stuffed toy skunk because it was starting to smell (no pun intended). She was so sad. She hunched over the trashcan the toy skunk was in and begged for it back. We gave her the torn-off ear of the skunk as a momento and I think she ate it…

5. Ladder on Gift Cards

We have needed a good ladder for years. Our attic needs some extra insulation and I was hoping this is something Jared could DIY. I went on Craig’s List to find a ladder second-hand but for some reason the same ladders on Craig’s List was more expensive than if we brought it new from the store! That’s dumb…I guess Craig’s List isn’t always a deal.

Thanks to Amex Gold’s sign up bonus we brought a ladder for $150 with the $300 Home Depot gift cards we swapped reward points for. Using up the chunk of gift card was preferred since we didn’t have to spend any real money. You can’t invest gift cards to pace with inflation.

6. Living Near Thrift Stores

I live within walking distance to 4 different reputable and well stocked thrift stores. It’s awesome. There’s so much stuff that I can rummage through. They have 99 cent days, it’s crazy. Like sets of golf clubs for 99 cents crazy!

I couldn’t have planned my life better. Sandwich me in between thrift stores and an international food court/market and you will have the happiest girl in the world. That’s the best part about living in the out-skirts of a big city – greasy spoons and thrift stores. I go treasure hunting once or twice a week. It’s a bit like dumpster diving back in the luxury apartments of Belltown but a little more organized and high-class. Lily’s moving on up in the world!

7. Decluttering Our Hot Mess

I sold $100+ worth of our stuff on eBay already in the past week. It’s a clearance sale at our house!

I gave up on my apathetic “it’s just clutter” stance and decided to collect anything that I no longer valued and waving ‘buh-bye’ to it. It’s what’s been keeping me busy for the past week.  I’ve tackled a little bit everyday. I was at it half the day today. It’s terrible.

Where do I sign up to be a minimalist? I need to get on that game. Our bedroom looks like it’s going to explode with derivatives…

Jared has refused to take part – he wants to keep all of his stuff.

“Honey do you want to dig out the Nintendo DS that I’ve never seen you use and sell it?”

“Noooo. It’s my stuff!”

“Ok, ok…”

Jared is not much of a minimalist. He’s the hoarding frugal type, just like me. He doesn’t like change of any kind but I respect his feelings so I’m laying off his stuff. I have enough stuff to declutter for the both of us anyway.

Where’s Your Frugal Fail?

Didn’t I do this right? Someone ask Ms. FAF :p! You know I really did try to find a frugal fail but I couldn’t think of any. It’s been a streamlined month so far. -Knock on wood-

I actually did write out an entire section for my perpetual frugal fail but I had to separate the posts because it reached 1,500 and I wasn’t even done. That’s when you know something needs its own spotlight…spoiler: Luxe will love it.

Part II: Read up on my one particular frugal fail – aka what happens when you hate all your clothes. ;(

31 thoughts on “7 Frugal Wins (But No Fails Yet Since I’m Awesome) – August 2017”

  • I LOVE this post! (I’m not biased ^.^). Your frugal win stories are awesome! I feel like I just had a closer look at the TFG household and just had a great story time. Is it ok to be excited for the next frugal win post now? 😀

    I’m sorry to hear about the virus. I think you mentioned it at one point, but I didn’t know he had to take half day off to recover from it. >_< Good thing he works at Google!

    There's a recurring frugal fail? And it has to do with Luxe? You made me curious!
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…The Struggle For (Financial) Power In A Marriage

  • “Jared is an engineer – as long as he bathes 3x a week, he’s up to par with he rest of the engineers.” I laughed pretty hard at this- as the wife of a software engineer, I find myself lucky if he shaves every 2 weeks.

    My frugal win of the week was we booked cheap tickets through Southwest [after 2 hours of me thoroughly investigating 4 possible weekends] and my friend messaged me that they were having yet another sale. …So I looked at the tickets we already purchased and found that they were $35 cheaper PER person. After a 10 minute call to Southwest, they refunded me the difference! Mr. NA is very proud but says he would never spend 3 hours booking travel, haha

  • I have thick fast growing hair too. My child is jealous of it as hers grows really sloooowwww.

    I am jealous that you are nearby 4 thrift stores. We have some around (in driving distance) but the stock is usually not worthy. Which makes me sad. I miss the thrift stores I used to have when living in SF. But now they all turned into really expense clothing exchange store. Sigh. Oh ya, we did find a good thrift store next to a state college. I need to go back.

    Yay on all the frugal wins!

  • Haha, if I work directly with software engineers do I get to use the bathing rule? We are already a jeans/t-shirt floor, and I have been seeing some shorts/hats and even a socks WITH sandals sighting last week. I like how they set the bar low, if I wear a tucked in polo (which is rare) I get asked “why am I dressed up”

  • I hide my dog’s toys and from time to time we bring it out. It works like magic every time. After a short while, Buddy forgets about the toys and when we bring it out, it’s like new toys to hims again haha.

  • Lily, props on all the frugality, but yall need to live a little =) I can understand if your guys’ income was tight, but it’s not. So if you love good food and eating out, do you think maybe you guys are crossing over from the frugal camp to the “cheap” camp? There have been a lot of posts about that as of late. It’s definitely a fine line, but I wouldn’t sacrifice good memories and some of the creature comforts (especially if it’s on your top 3 enjoyable things). I used to calculate the opportunity cost on every little thing just like you (for example the $100K you decided you’re going to probably spend on eating out, in your life time). I don’t do that anymore. It’s just seriously not worth the mental drain. And especially given the fact that if you’re already going to spend it, you should spend it and try to reap as much joy out of it. Because once you start feeling guilty about it, then it’s kinda a double-loss. Might as well feel good about it if you’re gonna spend the money.

    • I totallyyy agree and understand your point Tim. We’re not under financial pressure so it comes off like..why? Hubby tells me that too. I was going to write a separate post on this and the external factors that kicked me into such a guilt ridden phrase. (Also I think I’m just a little cheap too 😓)

  • Ok I seriously need to do an ebay cleanse. I found all these fancy perfumes from my perfume obsession days that I could probably sell off for at least $150 (total).

    I used to go the home haircut route…I actually just found all my home hair cut kit yesterday! Now I just try to save time because cutting my own hair would take 3 hours! I usually get the cheap(er) chinese salon haircuts, but it is awkward having the ladies try and make conversation with me in chinese and I’m like…my chinese is so bad please just speak English @[email protected] I shower everyday but sometimes it probably looks like I haven’t because I come into the office dressed like a hot mess (“chic” sweatpants) sometimes and no one cares.
    Jing recently posted…What to Look For In A Savings Account

    • “eBay cleanse” haha that’s the perfect frugal term.
      I know what you mean with the Chinese salons. They look at me expecting perfect fluent Chinese but I speak at a 3rd grade level.

  • Lily,
    Good job. Proud of ya. I know I have a 2.7 frugal GPA but I’m only frugal about certain things. The Mrs. and I love to eat out and we eat well at home, too! I’ve decided that we can control our expenses only so much until it’s no longer enjoyable. I guess I’ll be working longer or at least until the kids are out of the house.

  • I love this!! We stopped buying our dog toys when he was younger too. He just ripped them open to take the squeaker out and then, since it was “dead”, he didn’t want it anymore. Dang dog.
    I think Ms. FAF should make this a link party (is that right?) because I’ve been wanting to do this too since I’ve been reading hers!!
    Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle recently posted…4 Reasons You Should Have A Monthly Budget Meeting

  • All the frugal wins!! Great job : )

    (Most) dog toys have such a limited lifespan. The pupper I was sitting last week absolutely destroyed this monkey when my Mum was getting him all excited. He also really loves chewing the Chuck-it stick, which is unfortunate; it really makes running him a lot easier!

    I guess my frugal win was house sitting 😛 Food paid for, money for hanging out with a dog in a fantastic house – win win win!

  • I’m impressed you cut your own hair Lily! Those are great frugal wins! I like to dye my hair or highlight it otherwise it looks flat and disgusting, but that being said I only go twice a year. My husband recently started cutting his own hair (we bought some clippers on Amazon) and that saves him $12 every few weeks lol.

    As for trying to be minimalist, I am convinced that because we live in a small place there’s no way I can declutter so much. And also my husband doesn’t let me throw away his stuff either which I am also convinced is more than mine. I think he has more clothes than me lol. I think I am also making excuses..sigh!
    GYM recently posted…PF Blog Round Up: Weekend Spending Edition

    • $12 a few weeks is quite a bit of beer money! Sounds like those clippers are great investments. My husband does the same too. Eventually I’ll be out of stuff to sell and it’ll be all his junk haha.

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