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.
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!”
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.