I didn’t keep track of things very well last month. I was kind of overwhelmed with client work, but that also means I didn’t do much of anything besides work.
So, as best as I can recall, last month I:
- Had a free drink on my Starbucks card.
- Stocked up on gluten-free crackers and wraps at rock bottom prices at Aldi. We don’t have an one nearby so we rarely shop there, but sometimes stop by the one near my in-laws after a family lunch.
- Had another free drink from Starbucks, but for my birthday.
- Had a free small popcorn at the movies — again, for my birthday. I sign up for lots of loyalty programs just for the birthday goodies.
- Managed to put 12% of my net pay into savings in March. Maybe not great, but not terrible.
- Read 24 free eBooks from the library, and 2 free books on my Kindle app.
Maybe I’ll keep track more diligently this month. I can at least try!
I was still keeping my list, though.
In the last few weeks I:
- Used DuoLingo daily to re-learn French. I do this all the time, actually, but I’ve never thought to add it to the list. It’s free basic instruction, and although the Owl mascot is a passive-aggressive super freak, it’s a fantastic resource.
- We went out to eat for Valentine’s Day…but we used a coupon.
- Finally bought a piece of software (Scrivener) after a couple of years of dithering around. I’d almost purchased it at least three time before, but it was 50% off, so I finally did it. Here’s to (hopefully) more organized novel writing!
- Bought a cardigan sweater at the thrift store on clearance for $0.77. Like new, less than a buck!
- Gave Lennox a haircut. He has very long hair, so I just trim it right across the bottom. It’s just like trimming bangs, except on a longer scale. And it took me all of the length of an Onion A.V. Club video to do it, so it saved a few bucks and a lot of time.
- Downloaded a free Kindle First book. Although it’s an Amazon Prime benefit, I don’t always find the monthly book selections interesting enough to bother getting one. It doesn’t matter if something is free if you really won’t use it — or read it, in this case.
- Used a $10 coupon (sent for my birthday) to order my favorite peach tea in bulk at a discount.
- All that being said, sometimes you have to compromise. My husband and I share a car — which is very frugal, of course — so I often don’t have have the ability to run errands when it is convenient (especially with regards to my energy level). And there are plenty of errands which are impossible to do on foot (especially since moving to this crappy neighborhood) and just too difficult to do on public transit. (We live in Houston, not Chicago. Transit here is marginal at best. I ride the bus often, but it’s rarely convenient.) So a simple grocery trip must either be done late in the evening (when I can barely do anything) or on the weekend, when the stores are packed (when I may have a panic attack from the crowd). So this really sucks! I hadn’t had groceries delivered in years — not since I worked a regular office job — and I had no idea that the options had expanded so much. I ordered from Instacart today, and it was an excellent and not-too-expensive-in-a-pinch option. Since the first delivery was free, the service fee and tip was less than a cab ride — and the personal convenience was worth every penny to me, anyway.
- Used a $20 Amazon credit to order take out one day when I wasn’t feeling well.
- Read 15 eBooks from the library, and 3 free eBooks from Kindle.
Not too shabby, I guess.
Quick update…this week I:
- Used a reward on my Starbucks card for a free drink.
- Finally replaced our most worn (and slightly, I am ashamed to say, holey) sheets with some very soft organic cotton sheets from Target on clearance.
- Ordered a case of Swiffer sheet knock offs from the Dollar Tree. I haven’t paid full price for name brand ones in years, but someone keeps buying them out as soon as they’re restocked at the closest store! At least we have room to store them.
- Went to Target and actually purchased only the things on my list. That always feels good…but doesn’t always happen.
- Read 4 eBooks from the library, and one free eBook from Amazon Kindle.
Over the month of January we managed to save $525 over the normal amount we normally put into our household savings. So that’s a success for sure!
Still inundated by work, but the end is in sight. Whew!
This past week I:
- Repaired the hem of a hand towel rather than replace it.
- Was also able to reuse some old Command hooks by getting replacement strips. Definitely cheaper than replacing the hooks with new ones.
- We had been looking for a replacement for our small non-stick skillet for a while, and really wanted a ceramic lined one instead of the traditional (maybe unhealthy) kind. We hadn’t seen one in the size we needed for less than $30, but came across one at Tuesday Morning for $12! It was even a pretty green that went with our kitchen colors. We found out at the register that it was on clearance, so we ended up paying less than $10 for the exact sort of skillet we wanted. It really does pay to wait, if you can.
- Stocked up on some extra groceries to take advantage of some good sale prices.
- Read somewhere that the average person spends $147 on Valentine’s Day gifts and laughed myself silly. I’d say Lennox spends about $30 on flowers for me (never roses, roses are for chumps, haha), and I spend about $5 on a fancy card for him. Some years we go out to dinner somewhere casual, often my favorite Mexican restaurant — no reservations required, and only around $35. I’d say spending $70 at the most instead of nearly $300 is a pretty significant savings — and also a good example of the sorts of habits most representative of lifelong frugality.
- Got my eShakti order in the mail, courtesy of a very generous gift card I got from my Mom in December. I wasn’t sure I should really include it here, as I did spend about $60 over the value of the gift card, but considering that I got two custom size dresses and a custom shirt, I still feel like I got a good deal. I rarely get brand new clothes (that I don’t sew myself), so it feels like a real indulgence! However, considering that I do get higher quality clothes from eShakti that last longer and look better than regular off-the-rack clothes, I still think this counts. Considering how disposable fast fashion clothing can be — it rarely lasts more than a few washes, in my experience — I bet I actually save money shopping this way in the long run. I have a dress from eShakti that I purchased in 2010 and still wear, for instance.
- Read only one eBook from the library this week, mostly because I have been way too busy working to read at my normal pace.
That’s about it for now! Back to the salt mines…
My list is for two weeks together this time. January is always my busiest month (and this month has been busier earlier than usual, due to IRS deadline changes), so I have been more focused on client work than anything else.
In the past two weeks I:
- Signed up for another free/reduced price eBook notification e-mail newsletter. I read so voraciously that I need more than one! Have also decided to track how much I spend on books this year to establish (and stick) to a budget. I’m only tracking the expense for now, but I expect it will be an eye opening figure…like the six months I spent tracking my fabric purchases several years ago.
- Took on a couple of extra client projects — both one-off projects that shouldn’t take too much time, but will bring in just a little bit extra income. This was maybe ill-timed on my part — January is already kind of kicking my butt — but the opportunity was there, so I took it. I’ve also, of course, been working extra hours at my regular job.
- Opted not to spend $99 to restore the files saved in our cloud back up when we got a new computer, but to spend the time to download the files in batches instead.
- Used a coupon code for a $0.99 streaming video rental on Amazon.
- Got free tortilla chips and a free can of refried beans (which I coincidentally needed for a recipe) from Kroger.
- Got a free one year subscription to Real Simple by joining a new survey company. (I like the pictures…but not enough to pay for them.)
- Read 7 eBooks from the library, and watched a DVD from the library, too.
Surely I will make it to February.
I’d started these posts as a kind of internal accountability thing, but lost the thread somewhere along the line. I’m going to try to be more consistent in the weeks to come.
Since my last post, I did a variety of things to save money:
- A bunch of things I never bother to put on the list, but always do: hung at least part of every load of laundry (even without a clothesline, on racks in the house), kept the A/C up high during the day time (or the heat low), drank mostly water or tea at home.
- Had a free chai using a Star Reward on my Starbucks card.
- We got a Visa gift card when we upgraded our Uverse service, so we used it to have several dinners out. Can’t beat free meals, right?
- Took advantage of a 40% off sale to stock up on my fancy pants foundation make up and my favorite facial moisturizer.
- Got a sample of Emergen-C in the mail.
- Got a free bottle of BBQ sauce, a 2 liter Diet Cherry 7 Up, and a free cake mix at Kroger.
- Used wrapping paper and gift tags bought on clearance last year. Also snapped up some holiday print Hello Kitty wrapping paper for $1 at the Dollar Tree.
- Used credit card points to pay for more than half of our holiday gift shopping. (And we never, ever charge gifts. We pay all cards in full every month.)
- Used $6 from survey payments to pay for my Seamwork subscription (twice).
- Read eleventy billion eBooks from the library! Almost. OK, 33 eBooks and one physical book. Still a lot!
I was obviously still keeping some notes (there’s no way I would remember this level of detail over two months, obviously), but just never got around to posting here. Here’s to a frugal 2017!
The entire year of 2016 has been a giant dumpster fire. I don’t even feel like elaborating, but to say that I’m gutted by the election would be an understatement.
So, here’s my half-hearted list — which covers two weeks this time, as I was out of town last Friday:
- Used $6 in survey money from Pinecone Research to pay for my Seamwork subscription this time.
- Used stuff I already had for a Halloween costume. I had actually purchased the scarf specifically for a Rosie the Riveter costume a while back, but changed my mind and wore something else instead that year. Glad I saved it! Our annual Halloween tea party got canceled (because of my toe injury), but I got to wear a costume to work. I admit that I did spend some money decorating doughnuts to look like vampires for my co-workers, but it was a lot less than I normally spend on my party. So, good for savings…bad for morale. Well, good for office morale — but not my personal morale.
- Used a coupon code to get $5 off and free shipping on a blanket scarf. This was not a necessary purchase, but I made a new knitted winter hat last year that didn’t match any scarves I already had and this will allow me to wear it more. (I like to match. It’s not a crime.)
- Had a free taco at Taco Bell because of…baseball? I think? It was free, so why not?
- Got free samples of lotion and toothpaste in the mail. The toothpaste was full travel size, which surprised me — I expected just a little sample.
- Got a free 4 pack of deluxe hazelnut fancy-pants Hershey Kisses, which will go into the Giftmas box as an extra present.
- Read 8 eBooks from the library. Escapism for the win! It may be all we have left [dissolves into hysterical laughter].
Well, hopefully next week will be less emotionally taxing, but I wouldn’t count on it.
After a couple of weeks of improvement in our spending, I had to go and have an accident that put me in the emergency room one night, and will have a few follow-up appointments. Thank goodness I have health insurance these days. I didn’t for many years, and even though our deductible is enormous and ridiculous, at least I can see a doctor when I need it. If you’ve been insured for a long time, you may not realize that without insurance, doctors charge you right up front — as in, you pay or you don’t see a doctor at all. And a regular office visit is generally $200 and up!
So this week’s list is to the point:
- My accident impaired my mobility, so I did almost no shopping at all. I sent Lennox out for groceries, and that’s about it. (I did buy a DVD from Amazon, but it was only $5 and it was a replacement for one someone borrowed and never returned! At least it was a bargain.)
- Since I last posted, I read 8 library eBooks and watched one DVD from the library.
- Took advantage of my need to move around less by catching up on some client work. Found a little silver lining there!
- One of my clients came to pick up her payroll reports and brought me a box of macarons. Free cookies are always a nice bonus! They were wheat-free, too — most macarons are made with almond flour — so I could eat them.
Needless to say, the apartment is still kind of a wreck. I have never unpacked so slowly in my entire life. It’s excruciating. Next time I am outsourcing everything I possibly can. My only goal for the weekend is to get the dining room table put together. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t lose another toenail! Heaven forbid. I shouldn’t even joke about that.