I think it has been a few weeks, maybe?

I was still keeping my list, though.

In the last few weeks I:

  1. 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.
  2. We went out to eat for Valentine’s Day…but we used a coupon.
  3. 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!
  4. Bought a cardigan sweater at the thrift store on clearance for $0.77. Like new, less than a buck!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Used a $10 coupon (sent for my birthday) to order my favorite peach tea in bulk at a discount.
  8. 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.
  9. Used a $20 Amazon credit to order take out one day when I wasn’t feeling well.
  10. Read 15 eBooks from the library, and 3 free eBooks from Kindle.

Not too shabby, I guess.

Small successes adding up.

Quick update…this week I:

  1. Used a reward on my Starbucks card for a free drink.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Went to Target and actually purchased only the things on my list. That always feels good…but doesn’t always happen.
  5. 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!

A week of replacing stuff, oddly enough.

Still inundated by work, but the end is in sight. Whew!

This past week I:

  1. Repaired the hem of a hand towel rather than replace it.
  2. Was also able to reuse some old Command hooks by getting replacement strips. Definitely cheaper than replacing the hooks with new ones.
  3. 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.
  4. Stocked up on some extra groceries to take advantage of some good sale prices.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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…

January marches on.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Used a coupon code for a $0.99 streaming video rental on Amazon.
  5. Got free tortilla chips and a free can of refried beans (which I coincidentally needed for a recipe) from Kroger.
  6. 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.)
  7. Read 7 eBooks from the library, and watched a DVD from the library, too.

Surely I will make it to February.

Catch up list.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Had a free chai using a Star Reward on my Starbucks card.
  3. 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?
  4. Took advantage of a 40% off sale to stock up on my fancy pants foundation make up and my favorite facial moisturizer.
  5. Got a sample of Emergen-C in the mail.
  6. Got a free bottle of BBQ sauce, a 2 liter Diet Cherry 7 Up, and a free cake mix at Kroger.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. Used $6 from survey payments to pay for my Seamwork subscription (twice).
  10. 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!

Ding-dong, the year is dead.

Wrapping Up 2016

2016 was not a good year for me. Or for a lot of people. Many of our heroes died. There were garbage elections in several places. It has been tough.

I definitely had a rough time on a personal level. My health was worse than usual: I had to have a tooth out, I had the second worst respiratory infection of my adult life, I had a foot injury. All of this had an effect on other areas of my life, too. It took over two months to unpack after we moved, and I got behind on my paid work. I had to let two private clients go this year, and haven’t been able to work as many hours outside the house as usual, either.

My 86 year old grandmother’s memory is finally starting to fail, my 64 year old father has become frighteningly frail, and our cat went suddenly blind this year. Misery not only loves company, but seems to have a house full of guests at the moment.

It has been a year of terrible decision making — both on the micro and macro level. I see both the American election and the earlier Brexit vote as an aspect of this, and our personal choice to move house. We decided to move over some pretty petty bullshit, without clearly thinking through the consequences, and it was a big mistake. But just like the US and the UK, the Crowder-Chan household will just have to deal with the consequences and make plans to better our situation later.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say that it wasn’t all bad in 2016, and of course it wasn’t — not in its entirety. It just feels like it was. Sure, I got to visit my family in Missouri for the first time in seven years, and I started work on my second novel. I read like a maniac this year, and plowed through 421 books. But does that outweigh the stresses and tribulations this year wrought? Realistically, no. No, it doesn’t.

The usual platitudes don’t help. “You’ve still got your health!” Do I? Please see above. “Next year is a blank slate — surely it will be better!” Will it? It looks pretty grim to me. “Well you’ve just got to stay positive, and…” Nope. Let me stop you right there. I don’t. Just let me wallow for a while. I have legitimate reasons to feel legitimately bad right now, and although this wallowing won’t be a permanent condition, I’m allowed to feel like shit when my world is shitty. You and Pollyanna can show yourselves right out, thank you very much.

2016 has been a garbage nightmare year. The best I can say for it is that it’s finally over.

Meanwhile, despite crushing depression…

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:

  1. Used $6 in survey money from Pinecone Research to pay for my Seamwork subscription this time.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. Had a free taco at Taco Bell because of…baseball? I think? It was free, so why not?
  5. 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.
  6. Got a free 4 pack of deluxe hazelnut fancy-pants Hershey Kisses, which will go into the Giftmas box as an extra present.
  7. 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.