It’s time to take a look at the week to see what frugal plans worked and which ones failed. Ever since I started to share my frugal feats, flops, and funnies each week, it has made me even more aware of my attempts to be frugal.
Being frugal isn’t just for people who are trying to get out of debt (though I definitely recommend it if that’s what you’re working on). Frugality helps you make the most of your money at any income level. Learning to be frugal early on, before you start making the big bucks, will help prevent lifestyle inflation that often creeps in when you start making more money.
Here are my frugal feats, flops, and funnies. Be sure to share yours in the comments! 😉
Frugal Feats of the Week
A New (to us) Van
Our prayers were answered when we found a new van to call our own! After the problems with our other van (and since it’s not going to pass smog when it’s due in the spring), we were ready to invest in a new one. This is our first van above the $2K range.
In our pre-house goals, we had set a goal of $10K to be used to vehicle replacement, but we ended up only using about $5,400. The van is a 2005 (eight years newer) and only had 72K miles on it. It’s a definite upgrade. Replacing my husband’s car will need to happen at some point, but right now it’s still going strong.
We got a pre-purchase inspection, like we have every time we’ve bought a used vehicle and everything looked good. We’re hoping to have her for a long time. We’ll be starting off with a road trip over Thanksgiving break!
Other Frugal Feats this week:
–> Remember the cell phone drama I talked about last week where we accidentally closed the account of my husband’s missing phone with the $200 of account credit on it? Thankfully we were able to work things out. They let me use the credit to purchase a new phone, then applied the rest of the credits to my account. I liked Republic Wireless before, but I like them even more after such a quick and efficient experience with their customer service.
–> I discovered that if you’re new to the Amazon mobile app, you can get $5 off your first purchase from the app! That was a nice find just in time for holiday shopping. I was able to share it with my husband who has never used the Amazon app. You can get a $5 credit too. Just click on this link from your phone or tablet to get the Amazon app and then sign in to get your $5 credit! How’s that for easy?!
–> I finally did make some more homemade laundry detergent! After I admitted to you last week that all the ingredients have been staring me in the face and I used up all of the cloth diaper detergent, I stopped being lazy and just made it!
After procrastinating making my homemade laundry detergent long enough, I made up a batch today, in fact i made two. It reminded me just how easy it is. ☀☀Seriously the only "hard" part is washing the good processor when I'm done. 👕👖Off to do some laundry now! ✅Check out my instastory for more. Oh and my recipe is in my profile, but also here📍 HTTP://www.sixfiguresunder.com/homemade-powdered-laundry-detergent-zote/ . . . #laundry #laundrydetergent #homemade #homemaking #frugal #diy #savingmoney #makeityourself #instastory #momlife #moneysaving #debtfree
Frugal Flops of the Week
Now on to the frugal flops! I made a couple of rookie frugal shopping mistakes this week as I was Christmas shopping.
My kids don’t have regular pillows right now. When they were in toddler beds, they used the smaller size pillows (I think they’re considered travel size). I made them cute pillow cases that coordinated with some other things I had sewn for them. Then a couple of years ago during the Pillow Pet craze, I designed and crafted custom pillow pets for them (with robes and pjs to match).
Both my husband and I independently thought that pillows should be on the Christmas gift list for the kids this year. I started searching Amazon this week and found a couple of options. The one that was the best price for the highest quality was this set of two Serta pillows for less than $12. They had great ratings and the price couldn’t be beat.
That’s where I made my mistake. I saved them to the Amazon list where I was keeping my Christmas gift ideas, instead of buying them. A couple days later I was ordering some multiplication flash cards for my daughter to use on our upcoming road trip, but since they were an “add-on” item I figured it was a good time to buy some of the saved items from my Christmas list.
When I went to grab the pillows, the price had more than doubled for the pair of pillows! I was so bummed that I didn’t take advantage of the great deal. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it comes back!
Price fluctuations aside, can I just say that Amazon is so wonderful for people like me who live and hour from Target and who always shop with their kids? Sneaking three or four pillows into the cart with four little helpers just wouldn’t work.
Elusive Gift Card
I had another smaller online shopping flop this week though. I was looking for some things for my husband (I won’t say what, since he will surely be reading this;) ) and found some stellar clearance deals that were even more awesome stacked with a 40% off coupon code.
I knew I had a Land’s End gift card somewhere from when I returned something that I had used a gift card (in part) to buy. They refunded the majority of the amount to my credit card, but since the return exceeded the amount that I originally charged, they returned the remainder on a gift card that they mailed to me.
I looked around all of the places that I thought I would have put it, but to no avail. I couldn’t find the gift card anywhere. I remember that it wasn’t a ton of money, but it’s a bummer that I couldn’t find it when I actually could have used it. Just goes to show you that it pays to be organized.
On the upside, I did go through Ebates, so I got 6% cashback on my purchase. If you’re planning to do online shopping, then you should definitely go set up an account. You’ll get a $10 gift card when you make your first $25 purchase. Score!
Frugal Funnies of the Week
Hot Lunch Hopes
We are hardcore lunch-packers (see my tips here, even though I can really get burnt out on packing lunches daily. Buying a school lunch for $2.75 for three kids would add up really fast. That would be $8.25 per day, $41.25 per week or $165 per month. Wowza!
The hard thing is that we live in an area where something like 60% of kids get free or reduced lunch, so my kids are definitely in the minority with their cold lunches. In the past they have questioned why they never get to have hot lunch and we’ve talked about how we would rather spend our money on other things like paying for daddy’s law school and saving up for a house.
A few month’s ago, we decided to use hot lunch as a reward for keeping their room clean for a month. It worked like a charm. The kids kept their room clean and we awarded them by applying money to the school lunch account. They were thrilled and could hardly wait.
Even though they were eager to get hot lunch, they didn’t want to squander their opportunity. They poured over the menu for weeks trying to decide which day would be the best. My two older kids chose a day this past week.
When I picked them up from school that day, the first thing out of their mouths was “Hot lunch was terrible!” and “I never want to get hot lunch again!” Apparently the cheese pizza had “way too much cheese” and the peaches were “hard and disgusting.” The only redeeming thing was the chocolate milk (you can’t ever go wrong with chocolate)!
I’ve had my share of complaints and whines about the lunches I make, so partly out of curiosity and partly hoping to feed my mama ego, I said, “Well was it at least better than bringing your lunch from home?” The answer was a resounding “No way!”
Next time they want to just use chocolate milk as a reward instead of getting a hot lunch. My budget and my heart were happy about that.
It’s your turn!
- What were your frugal successes and failures?
- Any funny frugal moments?
Lol my kids used to think hot lunch was sooooo cool…. until they got to eat it! Funny how that works out 🙂
I also hate how Amazon changes their prices from one moment to the next. I’m never sure if I’m getting the absolute best price or not.
Ouch vehicles can be expensive. My hubby has over 140k on his car and had to have new rear tires and struts put on his car. Over $900 for this maintenance. But the car is paid for. We look at mileage for shopping, chores, etc as it accelerates the need for maintenance and repairs on older vehicles.
Frugal success on Sunday night. Hubby gave each of my children a haircut. No putting miles on either vehicle, the clippers and scissors are paid for many times over. It took him about 10 minutes for each and both boys received great looking haircuts, then jumped in the shower to rinse off any itchy stray hairs. It would have taken longer just to drive one way to the barbershop, not even including the wait time. It was Sunday evening, I just wanted to relax after a busy day, so it was just easier to tell him to give the boys a haircut. It saves me hundreds a year, having him do the boys, and hundreds more having him do mine. So I joked that the amount we didn’t spend on haircuts in the last year paid for his car repair. Having the money available to pay for unplanned emergencies beats wondering how am I going to get to work without a car.
Wow, since you saved so much money on the van, you can put the rest of your car fund towards a replacement vehicle for your husband!
DS gets a small box of shelf-stable chocolate milk (UHT Pasteurized) in his lunch everyday (unless he wants strawberry). It seems to help keep him happy with cold lunches.
Congrats on the new van, and I am so glad you spent the $ to do a prepurchase inspection. Always money well spent and too many cheap out there, often to their own detriment. My frugal win this week- taking the time to inquire about a $100 charge that should have been $60. The company looked into it, adjusted it, and a 5 or so minute phone call ‘saved’ me $40 simply for being aware and nicely disputing the overcharge. Flops- I received a $5 Bill for an ongoing service I’ve had to unravel time and time again, only to get this weird bill where I don’t think there should be any. To be honest, I think I will take the lazy way out and just pay the $5, right or wrong. I don’t have the energy to untangle it for half an hour to save the $5! Other flop- Wal-Mart trip with kids. I took them with me to kill some time on the long weekend, it cost me an extra $15 between the impulse buy catnip and the gingerbread house kit I might have waited a few more weeks to purchase and surprise them. I’m usually better than that at sticking to our list!
Erin @ View From Our Terrace says
This week I scored some fun kid friendly Halloween decor at Target for $.10 each! I feel like I never get lucky with those deals, all the good stuff is usually gone.
I had a gift card that I held on to for years, and kept trying to give it away as a gift. No one wanted it. Finally my husband had a use for it, but then I couldn’t for the life of me remember where (or with whom) I had left it. I think my mother had used it as a gift for someone else. Who knows. Like you say, being organized certainly pays off!
It looks like those pillows have dropped in price again! Also, just a quick tip. There’s a website called camelcamelcamel.com and it lets you put in a product from Amazon to see what the price fluctuations have been in the past. I like to use it to see if I’m getting a good deal from Amazon. It shows the current price, and I can see if that is more or less than the average price, and how close it is to the lowest price. It looks like there’s also a way for CamelCamelCamel to send you an alert when the price drops, but I’ve never used that feature.
Ahh! Awesome Laura! I’m going to buy some now before the price changes again! 😉 Thanks for the tip. I’ve heard of that website before, but never remember to look!
I was going to say the same thing! Tune it to track the price of the bra I like, which occasionally drops down $14, which is bonkers.
Thanks so much for the information on camelcamelcamel.com! What a wonderful tool.
Lindsey Mozgai says
Last night we had a major frugal flop. I had a coupon for a 5.99 hair cut sitting on the counter, it did expire that day so we had to use it today. Left it at home, ended up paying $14 for my fiance’s haircut. It stung a little, but you live and you learn
Bummer! I hate it when that happens!