Tuesday, September 9, 2014

6 Frugal I Did and Did Not Do in August

When you write about budgeting and saving money as much as I do, sometimes people get this reputation for being an extreme cheapskate and not spending any money at all. 

So. Not. True.

My shoe closet is proof of that.

I’m taking my cue from other frugal bloggers and posting a list of ways we saved and spent extra money. Some of these things may be big. Most are small. They all add up.



Six Money Saving Things I Did In August


For our family, saving and spending money is a series of tradeoffs. We save some to spend some and we spend some to encourage us to save some.


1. Dehydrated fresh mushrooms before they went bad. It was an experiment that worked. Sorry compost bin, you lose these round of Eat Me Now or Compost Me Tomorrow.

2. Cleaned up on Back to School Sales. I tend to save more more money with sales and seasonally shopping than coupon. Once Meijer stopped doubling coupons, I can get just as good a deal or better buying those rare coupon things like dairy free milk at Trader Joe’s and Aldi (Aldi has organics now!) Fortunately,still keeping my habit of skimming the on line Sunday sales flyers, Target coupons and my printable coupon database while leisurely drinking my morning coffee and petting Lacey paid off. There was a perfect storm of Back to School, Back to College sales I made work. We needed printer paper and I got a rare one free roll of Magic Tape (we’re good for more than a year on tape with this.)  I also finally replaced our very old and very flat King size pillows and worn sheets using Target Cartwheel (my first time) in addition to a sale. 

3. Bought a black long sleeve formal gown I needed for a concert band concert on eBay. New with tags! I found out in the middle of summer that the dress code for my concert band performance is black tie.  I didn’t have many choices because I needed to buy a black long sleeve dress in the middle of the summer – not an easy thing!

  • I wanted to rent a gown from Rent the Runway. Not an option since they won’t shorten the dresses for fun size gals like me.
  • I didn’t have time to sew one because I needed that time to rehearse and relearn how to play my flute for the concert.
  • After checking many, many stores and coming up empty, eBay was my last shot. It came though and was cheaper than the rental price. Nice surprise!

4. Made a double batch of powdered laundry detergent It takes less than 20 minutes to make High Efficiency Laundry Detergent (learn how here. )  but I didn’t have that in the July when I was relearning how to play my instrument, spin rifle (I hadn’t done either since high school!) and learn a bunch of flag corps routines. That’s why I keep one bottle of liquid HE detergent on hand. My washer doesn’t like it but it works in a pinch.

This laundry detergent recipe will work in regular washing machines too.


5. Stayed with family outside the city instead of the band’s host hotel for my Cleveland performance. I saved money on a hotel bill to make an expensive trip slightly less expensive. The drive was was inconvenient since I was over 30 minutes away from our rehearsal and performance spaces. I also had to get up earlier each morning for the drive in but #6 made up for any fun with my band mates I may have missed.

6. Had the best night drinking cheap wine and blathering with my sister about everything and nothing until the wee hours of the morning. It is rare we get to hang out just the two of us. Luckily, our schedules cleared while I was in the area for my performances and we got together. After giving my sister her birthday gift of wine glasses, she said we should test them out and keep it classy since I accidently I left the brand stickers on the bottom of the glasses. We decided to go with it as a theme for the evening. We sat on her porch drinking gas station wine (Barefoot) with a plastic cork I removed with my knockoff Swiss Army knife and used old bread twist ties as wine charms.  Best. Night. Ever.

Keeping it classy!
You might have seen this if you
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Six Money Saving Things I Did Not Do In August


It also lets our families - and you – realize we’re not poverty stricken even though I write so much about saving a buck. We do the frugal stuff above so we can go do the stuff in the list below when the mood strikes.

1. Bought and used HE washer cleaning tablets instead of a DIY version.  Liquid HE laundry detergent makes my washing machine stink.  I don’t know of a DIY washing machine cleaner that works and of course the washing machine cleaners never go on sale/coupon. 

2. I went on a Cleveland community marching and concert band trip. While I saved in some areas like my lodging and my surprise concert gown, it was still a spendy endeavor. I had to pay fees for our rehearsal and performance space, buy a color guard uniform and a concert dress, buy a color guard rifle and practice flag, rent a car, gas,meals, social stuff, and unanticipated prescription for a rehearsal injury. I told my hosts to not bother feeding me since my schedule isn't own. I also didn't want to be rude if they made something special for me that I couldn’t eat because they didn’t know lactose was hiding in it.  (Hidden lactose is a learning curve even I’m still trying to figure out.)
Sure, it would have been cheaper not to go at all but it was such an incredible experience to march in a band full of band, music, and color guard professionals who finally get to write a show with all of the cool stuff they create for their students.

I pushed myself learning difficult choreography to perform in the drum corps style show I always wanted to perform in but didn’t because my band was a military style marching band. Last but not least, I surprised myself and walked a little taller after proving to myself I can still spin a color guard rifle which I hadn’t done since high school. The positive reaction from my husband, friends, and the neighbor kids watching me practice in the backyard didn’t hurt my confidence level either.

Little 4’11 me spin that big long rainbow streamer flag too! It is 10 feet long on a pole made from an uncut length of PVC. It took a ton of muscle.

3. Went out to eat often for just because and eventually for Husband’s birthday. There’s not much to say here other than it wasn’t cheap fast food. I’m not apologizing for it, just acknowledging it.

4. Bought Husband A CASE of running socks. That’s right ONE CASE. Husband is a runner. He puts so many miles on his shoes, he keeps a spreadsheet so he knows when they are too broken down and need to be replaced. Then he wears the broken down for running but still supportive shoe as regular day wear. The same can’t be said for his socks. I sew holes and ripped seams in his socks when I can catch them but there comes a time when there isn’t any more sock to repair.

5. Saw Doctor Who Deep Breath at the theater on IMAX after seeing it several times at home because we recorded it. We like Doctor Who if you can’t tell from my 22 Doctor Who Party Food and Beverages post (read it here.) We like Doctor Who on big screen IMAX even better!

6.  Lacey’s Emergency Room and Vet Bills Lacey suddenly got sick. Scary sick. She almost died sick. I took her to our vet one morning because she was vomiting and had diarrhea. Our vet took blood and prescribed antibiotics for a gastric infection. That afternoon Lacey went quickly from the spunky girl was in the vet’s office to refusing food and her peanut butter covered meds. She was lethargic and had bloody diarrheas. Without question, we rushed Lacey to the 24 Hour Veterinary Emergency Room. I sang Lacey our special song before we left her there because I wasn’t sure if I would ever get the chance again.

Lacey spent the evening on IV antibiotics and waiting for our vet’s blood work to come in.  The following day we did a hospital transfer from the Emergency Vet to our Vet Hospital for continued IVs and care. Three days later Lacey was well enough to take a bunch of meds and  transition from a bland diet to solid food at home. We loved on a now perkier Lacey more than you can imagine. We loved on us back.

We were willing to pay anything for Lacey’s treatment and we did. Thankfully we got her to the Vet Emergency Room in time and her infection was treatable but it was spendy. We will be reimbursed by our pet health insurance but man, after paying the final bills, I sure am glad we pay for what many think is a frivolous pet expense.

What about you? Did you have some frugal victories this month? Frugal defeats or splurges?

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