It’s time for our weekly story time where we share the highlights (and low-lights) of our frugal adventures. Saving money really can be an adventure, can’t it?! Whether you’re just starting to trim your expenses or you’re thrifty through and through, you’ll have some wins, some fails, and some funny times in between.
I had hoped to write last week’s edition of Frugal Feats, Flops, and Funnies while I was at a conference last week, but there just wasn’t time to squeeze it in. So this week, I’ve summed up the past two weeks in this travel edition.
I’d love for you to chime in with your stories in the comments. What have been your frugal feats, flops and funnies from the past week or two? Hearing everyone else’s great ideas and experiences is so encouraging and hearing your flops and funnies is refreshing too. 🙂
Frugal Feats of the Week
Before going out of town, I made sure to leave everything prepared and ready for my family. I made sure everyone had clean clothes and matched socks. I wrote out a schedule for all of my normal kid-related activities. I pre-made sandwiches and put them in the freezer so lunch-making would be quick and easy.
Thankfully, everything went smoothly while I was gone (besides having two kids get a rerun of the stomach bug).
When I got home, I was a little off schedule and disorganized. Since I’ve never been gone from my kids for more than 24 hours, it’s understandable.
For the first few days of being back we didn’t go to the grocery store. We were out of bread and I was too exhausted to make any. Still, I’m a big believer in the money-saving merits of packing a lunch. We’re pretty traditional when it comes to making lunches though. The sandwich is the “main course” nearly every day.
In the days since I’ve been back but before I went to the store, I’ve been creative with sandwiches.
One morning I made pancakes for breakfast and made enough to use them for sandwiches. My kids love them and have convinced the other kids at school that it’s cool (other kids used to tell them a pancake sandwich was weird).
Another morning I made peanut butter and honey tortilla roll-ups. Again, not something totally new for us, but still a lunch-saver.
I’ll admit that I did consider sending the kids with money for hot lunches, but not doing so saved us $16.50 for two days of school lunch for three kids. That’s only the tip of the iceberg though. Had I given in and paid for school lunches, it would set a new precedent. If I had justified buying school lunches this time, it would be so easy to do it again and again.
Pancake sandwiches and peanut butter and honey tortilla roll-ups kept us on the frugal, lunch-making train.
Frugal Flop of the Week
My husband joined me for the first two nights of my trip. We met at the airport and flew out together.
Except we almost didn’t.
Fighting rush hour traffic in the city, along with some construction and accidents, meant that I arrived at the airport after my flight was already boarding. I had planned to park in the economy parking lot, but waiting for the shuttle would have meant missing my flight, so I parked in the much more expensive hourly lot.
I sprinted through the airport in hopes of miraculously making my flight. Fighting back tears, I pleaded with some strangers ahead of me in line at the check-in counter to let me cut ahead and hopefully get on the flight with my husband. I was grateful for their kindness.
Thankfully, my husband, who had only light traffic from his downtown office to the airport, was able to make it in plenty of time to park in the economy lot and take the shuttle to the airport.
When he came home after two nights, he got the car from the hourly lot and left the other car for me. The expensively parked car, though it was parked for less than 48 hours, cost more than the car that was there for 5 days.
While parking ended up being more expensive than we had planned, it was still cheaper than missing a flight!
Frugal Funny of the Week
I entered a personal finance essay contest several months ago where the prize was a free ticket to FinCon (I was planning to go anyway) and a generous travel reimbursement. To say I was thrilled to be a winner is an understatement.
Originally I had planned on getting a roommate to split the cost of the pricey hotel, but since the travel expenses would be covered, I invited my husband to join me for a couple of nights (while my sweet mother-in-law watched our kiddos).
Between the hotel cost and airfare, I still had a few hundred dollars of travel allowance to spend on meals and incidentals.
After our first dinner at the hotel cost $40 for the two of us (and just for hamburgers, which weren’t even on the menu), I started panicking that the remaining travel stipend wouldn’t get us through the week.
Naturally, I bounced back into my normal frugal mode. Instead of spending an arm and a leg on breakfast or dinner, I’d have a granola bar or bagel left over from breakfast or just skip a meal. Even though I had money to spend, the high prices were tough for this frugal girl to swallow.
I could have taken a cab to somewhere else to eat, but that costs money too (and I’m a little weird when it comes to taxis).
My smart husband encouraged me to keep track of receipts so I knew how much I had left to spend, but I told him not to worry because I’d do it in my head.
Well, for lots of people not carefully tracking spending (especially on vacation) would mean over-spending.
This is where I’m weird.
Had I added up my receipts before arriving home, I would have known that I still had $180 remaining! To put that in perspective, that is more than half a month’s grocery budget for our family of six. I guess I didn’t need to forgo meals after all.
I guess it’s just hard to break a frugal habit!
Yet I left $180 on the table, which isn’t exactly frugal either!
It doesn’t stop there though. On the second to last day, I realized that our room (which was upgraded when we checked in because the hotel was overbooked) had complimentary access to the club lounge, which had free food around the clock.
You live, you learn.
How about you?
- What frugal feats, flops or funnies have you had in the past two weeks?
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
Hi Stephanie, I’m glad you had fun at FinCon. I just started my blog a while back and have been thinking about whether I should go to the conference. Could you please let me know if it’s helped you grow your blog or networked with other bloggers in any way? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!
* Your long-time blog reader: Ms. Frugal Asian Finance.
Lindsey Mozgai says
This week I started cooking on sundays to make all of my dinners for monday-friday ahead of time! Since I’ve been getting up earlier, I’ve been struggling to put something together for dinner and tend to opt for an easy dinner out.
Now, I have a quick dinner that takes all of the effort of putting it in the oven! Any vegetarian suggestions would be appreciated!
That’s great to get ahead on meals like that! As for vegetarian options, a lot of times I just leave out the meat in our regular recipes (or in part of it for my daughter). A favorite around here is bean burritos, of all things! I either use frozen or dehydrated refried beans. Burritos are quick and easy, so I don’t mind making them, even though they aren’t very exciting for me.
Way to go with the room upgrade!
Our big frugal win – Last week my husband had a work thing in Melbourne, and since it’s school holidays, we tagged along. We stayed in a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment in the city with floor-to-ceiling windows on an upper floor, and since it was work-related, it was all a tax deduction. There are always plenty of free things to do in the city. We wandered around for a while, visited a couple of art galleries, and made a trip to Daiso so they could do their Christmas shopping. The next day we went to the zoo. The kids were free because it was school holidays, and I was free because of I have a carer’s card (my son is deaf, which qualifies me as a carer, which means I get into tons of stuff for free.) And of course we packed our own snacks for the zoo, and self-catered for the apartment. It was a lovely couple of days away.
Frugal failure – I packed my husband’s coffee, which was in a glass jar. As I was unloading the groceries in Melbourne the bag split and the full coffee jar shattered. So we had to replace that. Next time I’ll remember to transfer it to a tupperware container instead, like I did with the sugar and the kids’ Milo.
That’s awesome that you could tag along on the work trip and do free things in the city!