Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Frugal Twilight Walk...

Laced up my walking shoes and zipped up my fleece for an evening stroll to the Office Depot last night. In my pocket were the two loyalty credits sent to me on a quarterly basis.  Totally $50, I was off, via foot, to buy 1,000 self-sealing envelopes for my legal practice.  Not needed until January when I sent out an annual newsletter to 2,000+ households, I wanted to get them for "free" now and have them on hand.  Coupons, walking instead of driving the Honda, earbuds in with some Brad Paisley, it was a perfect frugal.

On the return trip the sun was down, twilight was upon me, and out of the corner of my eye -- movement on the edge of the wooded research park that is two blocks from my house.  Instantly my mind said - doe!  I stopped, focused my eyes, and then my jaw dropped.  No, it was not  doe but rather a very tall and proud coyote who stopped and looked intently in my direction.  There I stood, and then s/he turned and went into the cover of the trees.  On a busy city intersection, mother nature holds on.  Madison awed me yet again.  And that is the upside of opting to walk to use coupons for office supplies.  Good for my wallet, my health, and my appreciation of Mother Nature.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Transplants in a Frugal Garden

Slowly I am sprouting a green thumb.  Over the weekend I took a frugal approach to filling in the front yard.  Last year we removed the ugly old pine like shrubs and worked to decrease the "grass" -- which really only takes up time for mowing and gives nothing else of value to our little family. The far end started as a potted veggie garden this Spring, but working full-time over the summer left the garden as an after thought.

With fall temps blowing into the area, I realized I needed to get moving on transplants.  Perennials re lovely, coming back year after year.  But the price can give the frugal buyer sticker shock.  In prior years I have put in plants from other corners of the yard that came with the house, or even free plants set out by neighbors.  My most recent transplants have far more sentimental value -- I brought them from my mom's house.

She parted our world this past February, and with her house on the market I had no time to waste.  Internet reading suggested I move the peonies in the fall, and I brought along some ferns, hostas and a tiger lilly.  Into each new hole my daughter dropped some compost from the backyard.  In went the plant, we covered and then watered.  This little part of the garden will be my mom's -- her plants (fingers crossed they make it), the three rose bushes an aunt and uncle gave us in her memory last Spring at her service, and the loving hands of her grandchildren.

A frugal way to grow our garden, a lovely way to think of my mom when I use the front door, and the most precious items from her estate.  Time permitting, I may bring more plants in the next few weeks.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Facebook Freebie

Thursday I went to the high price salon for a hair cut, an infrequent indulgence.  It's location, quality service, and pure pleasure justify the expense in my frugal budget.  With tip, I walked out with a fresh cut (I go about 3 times a year) for $65 -- which included a brief, but enjoyable head/neck massage.

My eagle eye noticed a sign -- like us on Facebook or do a status update here, leave with a free gift.  I had already done a status update, so I asked "what do I get".  Turns out a travel size of my Aveda Shampoo.

Facebook, sometimes I detest it, sometimes I love it.  Keep your frugal eyes open for how you might be able to use social media to help your budget.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kids Clothes in a Frugal Home

Early one morning this week I pulled my son's navy blue sweat pants from his closet.  Hmm, hole in the knee, not quite right for school.  I set them aside and was delighted to find another pair of navy blue sweat pants.  But, they too had a hole in the knee!  We settled on a pair of jeans, and off we went to school.  Mental note made, a trick of all Mama's out there -- buy him new sweat pants, find time.  

A night or two later I was sorting through his closet, pulling out the items he had outgrown. Then I pulled out a bin of items a childhood friend gave me a year or so ago.  I thought, look in here before you do any shopping, you might find some things.  Well, it was like Christmas morning with birthday cake on top!  Pair after pair of sweat pants, hood sweat shirts, a black tee-shirt he declared "oh, so cool!"  And with that bin opening, I no longer needed to shop.  This friend has lightened my Mama duties so many times, heaping bags of boy and girl clothes into my trunk.  As her son enters 8th grade, mine has just started kindergarten......and apparently boys like sweat pants!

Handmedowns are a cycle in my frugal mind.  To receive also means to give, and give I have been doing.  Off went a huge box of infant clothes to the daughter-in-law of a women I met at a book reading.  Three bags of boy 3T will be picked up by yet another childhood friend who has a son just over one.  And our daughter's items are given a second (or third or fourth) life by the little sister of a former preschool classmate of our son's.

My children, especially my son, love looking at a necklace I picked up years ago in Ireland.  It is the Celtic Knot.  It symbolizes no beginning and no end, just constant flow.  That is how I like to think about the used clothes of your children's youth.  Sure, we buy a few new things here and there.  But for the most part we embrace and enjoy the generosity of others, and pass it on to others.  My trips to the mall are nearly nonexistent, our clothing budget hardly a slice of the budgetary pie, all allowing us to maximize their 529 college savings.  That is one thing we won't be able to acquire second hand.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Frugal Cafe au Lait

Fall is in the air, and if like me you are saying good-bye to iced coffees and hello to warm and creamy cafe au laits.  No need to break the budget with these treats, you can have one at home with an open mind.  All you need is a hand immersion blender and a wide mug.  Heat your milk of choice (I use the microwave) and then use the blender to create froth.  Pour along with coffee from your home machine, and voila, gourmet coffee without the high price.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Making The Most of a Gift Basket

Recently we returned home to find a gift basket on the doorstep.  From a vendor my husband had ordered from for his electronics design practice.  Most of the time the thank yous are gift cards for Starbucks, which never go to waste.

This was much bigger:

A BBQ theme, and not the type of thing we'd use much around here.  But I put my frugal hands to use.

One pile of cardboard and ribbon for the preschool art basket.  Another pile of goodies to share with the Sunday Dinner Village Community we join (friends who gather weekly for a meal), and one for the house.  The only item tossed was the plastic wrap.

And now the metal basket has a second carrier in our back bathroom, filling a job that needed filling -- at no expense.

Make the most of what comes our way.  Donate it, share it, keep it, recycle it, but never through much if anything away.  That's the frugal way, at least in our home.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Ahoy (Frugal) Mama"

From toilet paper roll to spy glass, loved the creative play our youngest child explored as we walked up to gather her brother from the neighborhood public school.  Spy glass, pirate girl, taking in her surroundings -- all at not "toy" expense.  Kids can turn the most mundane into the most creative. Think kids educational toys are expensive?  Think again.

When she is done it will go into the preschool donation pile (for their art table) or my compost bin.  Either way, it's usefulness will continue.  That's how we roll in our frugal house.

For those following along, we are one week in to using the neighborhood public school, and are delighted with the experience.  Maybe we needed that difficult private school drama to fully appreciate the magic of Madison public schools.