In the two weeks since I last reported frugal feats, flops, and funnies, we’ve had our share of frugal feats and flops. Sometimes they’re funny, too, because it’s always nicer to laugh than cry!
As always, please chime in with your own frugal feats, flops, and funnies so we can encourage one another in our money-saving endeavors!
This Week’s Frugal Feats
As you might have guessed from the title, we scored some free stuff this week.
While I was on a school field trip with my daughter, I got a call from a neighbor. She said that she was cleaning out her pantry and food storage and she had some food that she would “never get through” before it expired. Since I have “all those kids” she wondered if I could use it.
I figured she would have a collection of canned veggies and some pasta, but it was a much more thorough pantry decluttering than I had expected. I left with 9 paper grocery bags full of food! We got lots of canned fruits, canned veggies, pasta sauce, cake mixes and frosting galore, pudding, hot chocolate, flour, peanut butter, jelly, powdered milk, and more.
She said that she had been storing food in three different places and kept buying more of the same, without realizing that they still had plenty. They are retired and don’t go through food very fast.
Tip: To avoid over-buying on groceries, plan your meals around the food in your pantry and be sure to make a shopping list at home as you are looking at your pantry and meal plan.
Last weekend, we took a day trip to visit my uncle and aunt who will be moving out of state soon. We always have a fun time visiting them. As they were packing their things for the big move, they ran across some things to offer me, including family heirlooms like my grandmother’s wedding dress and the first quilt that my grandma made as a child. There was also an assortment of decorative dinner plates and other dishes. Honestly, I haven’t even gone through the box. I figure I’ll wait until we move to go through it since there isn’t much I can do with it here in the basement.
My aunt asked if we were interested in the two twin beds they had in one of their guest rooms. It’s actually a pretty interesting set-up. It’s a twin bed with a twin trundle (two twin frames and mattresses, with one sliding underneath the other for storage, then sliding out alongside it for sleeping).
They also offered us some other appliances/furniture, but not knowing where we’ll be and what we’ll need, we declined those offers. We are really happy about the beds though. Right now our three older kids are in one room on a custom triple bunk bed that my husband made the kids for Christmas in 2014 and the baby is in a pack-n-play in our room. When we get our own house, we will have a girls’ room and a boys’ room, so we’ll need other beds. In fact, depending on what the space is like in our new place, the triple bunk might not even work.
Tip: How to get free stuff without asking
One of the keys to getting free stuff is being an outwardly frugal person. By this, I mean that you talk about the great deals you get or the awesome new way you found to save money. Don’t be wasteful and make the most of what you have. People notice stuff like that, and when they have something they want to give away, they will think of you.
Another keys to getting people to offer you free stuff is to be gracious when it’s offered. When someone knows you won’t be insulted by the offer of free stuff, but will be grateful for the thoughtful gesture (even if you don’t take the stuff), they are likely to offer you other stuff in the future.
Frugal Flops of the Week
Cutting the cord
I don’t know if I ever mentioned the death of our desktop computer. While I was at FinCon, my husband decided to clean out the desktop computer, as in physically open it up and clean out the dust (it’s mighty dusty when you live in a basement in the boonies). Even though he told our younger son (who just turned five) not to touch anything, curiosity got the best of him and he stuck his finger right into the computer’s fan, which broke and sent pieces flying which broke other computer-y things. Ugh. Not the welcome home I was hoping for.
We decided to wait to replace the desktop computer until after we get a house (and a van, but that’s a story for another day), so I’ve been working exclusively on my laptop. I leave it plugged in most of the time and usually use it from the couch.
On Saturday, I asked my husband to read through my weekly newsletter before I sent it out. He sat down in the computer chair and picked up my laptop. He turned the chair toward the kitchen to ask me something and -snap- the power cord was cut!
We’re not sure how it happened, but that curious 5-year-old also has the habit of spinning in that chair (all. the. time.). We’re guessing that the cord must have gotten wrapped around the chair base in his last spinning session, which set my husband up for disaster.
We ordered a new cord on Amazon immediately so it could start it’s journey toward us (not everything gets delivered in two days when you’re in the boonies). In the meantime, my handy husband used a wire nut and electrical tape to resurrect the cord for temporary use. It may look bad, but it works (and he promises me it’s not a fire hazard).
Lost phone and lost money
When we first switched out cell phones to Republic Wireless, there was a referral program for inviting new customers to give Republic Wireless a try (the referral program has since been canceled, though they do have an affiliate program). I can’t remember the exact details, but it offered something like a $20 discount to the new customer and a $20 service credit for the referrer.
That was great for us, because we already loved Republic Wireless (it saves us sooo much money) and we were already telling everyone about it. I love helping being find a great service that saves people so much money!
Side note: Seriously, if you feel like you’re paying too much for your phone, then you probably are and should most definitely check them out.
There was a maximum of $600 referral credit per account. My husband and I had our phone on separate accounts and we each accrued $600 in referral credits that year. Back then we were on the $10/month plan, so that credit lasted a long time.
Well, my husband’s phone turned into a work phone for his 9 to 5 job so that he could work remotely once a week. Somehow on the way back from San Diego, or shortly thereafter, that phone disappeared. We were pretty sure that it would turn up somewhere, but after a month, we still haven’t found it.
He still had nearly $200 of credit on his account, so we decided he should just use the credit to get another phone and then pay for his monthly service like a normal person. That would have worked just fine, except he made the mistake of cancelling the first phone line before ordering the new phone. When he cancelled the first phone, the whole account closed automatically since it was the only phone on the account.
He opened a help ticket to explain that he had not intended to cancel the account, only to remove the one phone and replace it with a new one. We’re still waiting for a resolution.
I guess losing the phone was the first flop, followed by losing nearly $200 of service credit. We hope Republic Wireless restores the credits without any fuss and then we can downgrade this from a double flop to a single flop.
While I don’t have a separate story as a “frugal funny,” I will use this opportunity to point out the value in being able to laugh at yourself and not get too bent out of shape. I’ve told you before that my husband and I don’t ever “fight” or get mad at each other. That goes for times like this too.
Getting angry or yelling doesn’t accomplish anything productive. Getting upset won’t find the phone or fix the power cord. The only thing it “accomplishes” is putting strain on relationships.
Instead of getting angry, we laugh or joke. There may be a period of mourning before we laugh, but our sadness is never hurtful or pointed at someone.
Actually this makes me think of my cute friend Brittany from Pennies into Pearls. Yesterday morning in her Instagram story (too bad those aren’t available for more than 24 hours) she shared how she had her dinner all prepped to make meal time a breeze.
In the evening she hopped back on Instagram and showed that the steak that had been marinating all day caught on fire in the grill and was completely blackened! A frugal flop for sure (and one that deserves some mourning), but she was able to laugh about it and see the irony in what she shared that morning. (PS- Following her on Instagram will brighten your day!)
Not all flops will turn into funnies, but when they can it really helps to ease the stress of a bad situation.
It’s your turn!
- What were your frugal successes and failures?
- Any funny frugal moments?