Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Frugal Life: Nature Walks, Coupons, and Hotel Splurges

Twas another Sunday in our frugal home.

My Husband tended to urgent needs of client.  The day doesn't matter when you are a dual entrepreneurial household. Crisis management under way, even if it is a Sunday.

I ran errands with the kiddos.  Wisely burns off some of their energy with a nature hike at Madison's Owen Park.  Free and full of nature at it's best, allowing them to show of the knowledge they've acquired with Science Friday camps at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Then it was a flurry of stops.

Office Depot - my legal practice is out of file folders.  Toss the 1/2 inch three-ring binder needed for our oldest's first grade school supply list.  At the register present a $20 coupon for the loyalty rewards program, pay the $5 difference with my 1% cash back credit card.

Next up, the hardware store where $23 was paid for one LED flood light for the backyard. Worth the up front expense when you consider the reduced power it will draw and longevity of use.  Add in a $5 hummingbird feeder, again giving the kids an outlet for the science knowledge they've acquired this summer.  It was basically free, because I had a $5 coupon form the store's loyalty program.

Then to Target for a mismatch of pantry items and cat foods.  After a quick look at the shoe section, we headed to the check out with our 5% off Target debit card and coupon for the cat food.  Yes, the store can track my purchases, but they know what cat food I buy and give me coupons.  Bonus -- 1% of my purchase is donated to the kids's school.  The brief exposure to the shoe section there reinforced prior decisions to pay for high-end shoes.  We dropped the bags in the car (cloth, for which I receive a 10 cent discount each) and we walked to Morgan's Stride Rite.

Twenty minutes later a professional had measure each child's foot -- missing from Target was such a device, and professional.  I spent $190 for 5 shoe boxes -- fall shoes for each child, a clearance pair of tennis shoes for our oldest who needs to leave a pair of gym schools at the school, and new rain boots for each.  With a coupon there was 10% off the regular priced items, and my loyalty card received lots of punches.  Overall -- I am happy to pay for the quality and speed of this store, and will not bother with Target's shoe section again.  Time is money in my mind.

On the way home I swung by the drive-thru of my favorite coffee shop, MOKA, and used a gift card a former clerk gave me last week on her last day.  $2 for 20 ounces of iced coffee, fueling up for an evening of solo parenting while my frugal other half tends to a client's crisis.  Might we work weekends?  Yes.  But we also booked a night at the newly opened Legoland hotel in Winter Park, Florida for late December and didn't flinch at the cost.  The excitement on our kids faces upon hearing of the stay?  Well, it was the upside of a frugal life.

Homemade chili and zucchini bread are in the mix for a healthy and frugal dinner at home.  Thank you coffee boost!  And that my dear reader is a frugal Sunday in our home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Crying Uncle: Saying Good-bye to Traditional Frugal Ways and Hello To Smarter Frugal

What is frugal?  For years I've written about it being the efficient expenditure of time and money.  And these past few weeks have forced me to Cry Uncle on several of my more traditional frugal ways.

The Purge of 2015 is on hold.  It will resume after the start of school.  Why the change?  Children's birthdays!  Oh my the inflow of stuff is amazing.  One child's birthday has passed, another looms. For now I am just swapping out an item for those that come in, making no progress on our efforts to rid our home of 2,015 items in 2015.  But I will pick that challenge back up once the school bell rings.

Then there is the lawn.  Having grown up in a lower-middle class, blue collar home, I mowed lawns starting at about age 12.  My husband who grew up in a more affluent home never mowed a lawn, his family had a lawn service.  Since buying our home and push mower, I've taken a great deal of frugal pride in mowing my own lawn -- great exercise, no gas used because of the push mower, out there connecting with nature. And then this summer happened.

My husband's business is morphing into something greater than his former freelance engineer practice: there is a partner, a new web site, a line of new clients, notice of upcoming international travel; they are hiring of staff.  In short, he is busy, but he never mowed the lawn anyway, so what gives?  At the same time my legal practice has kept me hopping all summer long.  Even with reduced part-time hours my revenue was the same as earlier in the Spring when I was full-time.  I have been as efficient at the office as possible, meaning I only have so much left to expend elsewhere.  And with the call of a cell phone I have handed over the lawn duty to Kevin of Cutting Edge Lawn Care.  Now I can remove another task from my to-do list, allowing me more time to focus on the kids when I am not at the office, and when I am at the office not spend time figuring out "when will I mow the lawn?".   Yes I could do the work myself, but there is a hidden fee there.  This new cost will be $36/week.  Money well spent, and a perfect example of the frugal life -- efficiently spending money as well as time.