Tag Archives: frugal

Frugal Friday: Be Your Own Advocate

IMG_1066 I work with a student who recently got into a car accident. He wasn’t injured, but his car was totaled. The insurance company was giving him the run-around and since English is not his first language, he was having a bit of trouble understanding what they were telling him. So, being the nosy helpful person that I am, I called the insurance company for him. I had to talk to three people before they told me that the girl who totaled his car was not insured at the time of the accident and therefore would not be covered. After I got off the phone, I explained to him that sometimes (American?) companies will give you the run-around and you might have to go through three people to get a straight answer. This was baffling to him. I explained that you have to be an advocate for yourself.

I am happy to say that my student got a lawyer and is now working out the details of the case, but I’ve still been thinking about the experience. I realized that I haven’t been an advocate for myself. I preach about being an advocate for your money and doing what is best for you financially, but I haven’t been an advocate for myself in all aspects of my life.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I’ve been having some health issues for the past couple of years. I’ve seen multiple doctors and to be honest, they’ve brushed me off. On the outside I am healthy. I eat insanely clean. I exercise. I sleep at least 8 hours a night. But I’ve had many doctors tell me that my problems weren’t real problems. This is extremely discouraging and to be honest, it had me feeling like it was my problem. I simply wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t eating clean enough, I wasn’t working out enough. But I’ve come to realize that it’s not just me. I need to be an advocate for my health. If one doctor doesn’t believe me, I need to get a second opinion. I need to ask the right questions and stand up for myself because I know my body better than any outside person.

Just like own bodies, we know what is best for us. We have to be an advocate for ourselves in all aspects of our lives— our health, our financial life and our lifestyle. This might mean calling the cable company and asking for a lower rate. If you aren’t given one, it might mean dropping cable all together. This might mean losing the facade of a big, beautiful home and downsizing to a more affordable place. This might also mean seeking out healthcare providers that sit calmly beside us and truly listen to our issues.

I know this has been a round-about story, but I want to encourage you to be an advocate for yourself. If there is an aspect of your life that isn’t working, I want you to know that you can seek out the help you need and that you do have the courage to do it. You can be an advocate for yourself. I believe in you.

love,
melanie

Frugal Friday: Are you willing to have less to gain more?

Airstream through the trees copy Often times people tell me, “Oh, I could never do what you do.” “I could never be a minimalist.” “I could never live in 188 square feet.” But what I really hear is, “I’m not willing to have less stuff to gain more time, money or pursue my other dreams.”

Since we moved into the Airstream, I’ve found myself less preoccupied with household chores. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to cook and clean each day, but instead of cleaning 1,000 square feet, I only have 188 to clean.

Since we moved into the Airstream, I’ve saved about half my paycheck each month. That’s huge. Prior to living in the Airstream I spent every cent I made, and sometimes more than that. Now I have emergency savings, a 401K and a Roth IRA. I didn’t even know what those things were two years ago!

Since we moved into the Airstream, we’ve also been able to support my husband’s dream of being a full-time artist. Paying rent just wouldn’t be possible (at least in the beginning) with the unsteadiness of the artist’s paychecks. We don’t worry about that now. Whatever money he makes, he invests back into the business or saves. We don’t need that money to live.

Moving into the Airstream has also given me a chance to think about my own dreams– whatever those might be. Two years ago I didn’t even allow myself to dream because I was broke. What’s the point in dreaming when you know you are going to have to get up and go to work each morning until you’re 65 or 70 just to support yourself?

By living in less and with less I’ve gained so much more.

What are you willing to give up to gain? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Frugal Friday: Frugality and Self-Care

Photo c/o Death to Stock Photos

Photo c/o Death to Stock Photos

When trying to save money it’s oh-so-easy to forget about also saving your damn mind. I know I’m not the only nutter who feels like “SAVE ALL THE MONEY!” one day and totally burned out the next. During times of high stress and pressure (that in my case is mostly self-imposed) it’s hard to remember that you need to not only take care of your bank account, but also you need to take care of yourself.

Sometimes that might mean giving yourself small rewards like a walk after a long meeting. Other times it might mean giving yourself a manicure or investing in a massage. For me, it means reading just for pleasure. I checked out Amy Poehler’s Yes Please* and can’t wait to dive in this weekend. It also means eating better. On Sunday I’m going to start Whole30. I’ve been reading It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways.* And I hope that the habit of eating mostly veggies and protein will give me the energy I need to push through a big work project.

What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Maybe I’ll even publish them in a future post!

love,
melanie

*Affiliate links. By clicking on the links and buying the product, I receive a small commission. The opinions about the products are my own. Programs like this help to keep my blog running. Thank you for your support!

Frugal Friday: Stress and Money

Photo via Death to the Stock Photos

Photo via Death to the Stock Photos

This week has been more stressful than normal which means a lot considering I usually run around in a constant state of insanity. I’m planning a conference at work, I’ve been seeing a nutritionist, so I’ve got some new food and workout routines and I’m of course, (attempting) to keep up with this blog. Although it’s stressful, I’m remembering my old buddy, Yoda‘s words “Do do not there is no try.” You all remember that time when I was a Jedi, right? Ha-ha.

In the past when things got stressful, I’d spend, spend, spend. I’d buy too many lunches and lattes. I’d “reward” myself too much. And I’d ultimately overdraft my bank account. But with my spending diet, the new year and living small, I finally feel that I’m beginning to turn over a new leaf. I’m not stress spending anymore. It’s taken me well over a year to learn how to not stress spend. It hasn’t been an easy process. Spending money is oh-so-easy. A few clicks on the computer when I felt like I “deserved” something or a quick little jaunt to Targé and suddenly I felt better. But what didn’t feel better was logging into my bank account at the end of each month.

And lately I’ve been finding better ways to cope with my stress. I’ve been doing light yoga, writing down my to-dos at the beginning of each day and trying to take weekends off work.

I’d love to hear about how you decompress and destress without spending money. Talk to me in the comments!

love,
melanie

Frugal Friday: Overcoming Frugal Resistance

Photo c/o Death to Stock Photos

Photo c/o Death to Stock Photos

I’ve been feeling a bit out-of-sorts with the Frugal Friday posts. I have the best of intentions to write a post for each Friday, but lately I’ve been a little out of it. I feel excited about other things and other projects AND OMG it’s almost the holiday season.

But my $100 Holiday Challenge has been helpful to snap me back into the frugal writing mindset. I haven’t been spending recklessly, but I haven’t been saving as much as I could either.

This week in the Link Love post, I linked to an article from Alexandra Franzen about getting through resistance and taking action. (I’m linking to it again, because it’s that good.) She writes, “The best way to get through resistance is to give the situation a whole new description, title, label… or name. A “name” that represents the essence of the experience.”

And just like resistance in all aspects of life, resistance in frugality needs to be named. We need to take back the painful phrases associated with saving money and change them into positive ones. Instead of saying “I only have $100 to spend on Christmas gifts,” (and how the hell am I going to do this?!) I’m calling it the $100 Holiday Challenge. It’s a challenge, it’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be fun too.  I have $100 to spend on holiday gifts! I’m choosing to do this! I’m smart and frugal and I can do this!

Can you think of a time you’ve rephrased your obstacles to overcome them? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

How Much Money Can a Small Garden Save You? An Update

How much money can a garden save you

This is an update on a post I published over a month ago when I thought my plants were done producing. Guess what? They weren’t done! And I’ve saved more than I thought initially! I’ve updated all the prices to reflex my bumper crop 😉 

Remember when I thought I couldn’t grow anything. Remember?! REMEMBER?! Well, I am beyond excited to report that my brown thumb has turned green, ya’ll. And today is your lucky day because I have a run down of the costs of my garden and, AND the cost if I simply went out and purchased the food. I am on fire.

Price of Seeds Cost at CSA* or Harris Teeter Amount Produced Price if purchased
Heirloom Tomatoes ($1.79) (unavailable at Home Depot, link to similar product) $2.99 (for 2)* 53 $79.24
Squash ($1.35) $2.99 (for 2)* 0 $0.00
Zucchini ($1.19) $2.99 (for 2)* 16 $23.92
Bell Peppers ($1.59) $1.99 (for 2)* 133 $132.34
Banana Peppers ($1.59) $0.43 151 $64.93
Onions ($1.59) $1.27 2 $2.54
Pumpkins ($1.43) $6.99 3 $20.97
Cucumbers ($1.35) $0.79 21 $16.59
Sunflowers ($1.35) $2.29 7 (about 2 cups) $2.29
Brussels Sprouts ($1.59) $3.49 0 $0.00
Supplies
Potting Soil (used sparingly to start seeds, previously purchased) $0.00
Gloves and a trowel (given as birthday gift) $0.00
Plow (borrowed) $0.00
Fencing to keep out critters ($34.97)
Garden Safe Insect Killer  ($5.79)
Garden Safe Fungicide ($5.47)
Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Fruits and Vegetables Granules ($12.47)
A cucumber plant when my other cucumber plants died (gifted from my FIL) $0.00
Tax
$5.14
Total Spent Total Produced (plus tax) Total Savings
$78.56 $366.82 $288.26

Additional Notes:

Garden Start Up Costs
I kept my start up costs very low. I didn’t create raised beds and my garden was by no means
“pretty.” I can’t keep up with Martha here. This isn’t rural New England!

Quite a few people around the blogosphere make a big deal about the start up costs of gardens. There’s very low start up costs if you keep it low. And yes, there is no guarantee that anything will sprout (just look at my squash!), but if you are successful, growing a garden can be a fun way to save on grocery costs.

Store Pricing
I used my CSA’s veggie pricing when available because I think it more accurately reflects the pricing of local produce. When not available, I used the pricing of a local grocer, Harris Teeter. (Yes, I know veggies might be cheaper somewhere else, this is just a good estimate, ya’ll!)

Novice Gardener
I think it’s also important to note that I am totally a beginning gardener. This is my first time keeping anything alive– including houseplants! I know there will be bad years and good years, but I believe with experience my vegetable gains will increase, thus increasing my savings.

The time factor
Yes, growing a garden (even a small one, like mine) takes time. Most weekends I was out there pulling weeds. I watered the plants almost every day (unless it rained). P.S. We have well water, so there was no cost for the water. But growing something, ANYTHING, keeping it alive, then eating something I grew with my own two hands has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. EVER! And that includes getting my Master’s degree.

Have you ever planted a garden? If so, were you successful? Do you think it saved you money? Did you make an insane chart like I did? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Frugal Friday: 101 Free or Cheap Things to Do This Fall

rp_101-free-or-cheap-things-to-do-this-fall-1024x679.jpg So you guys, this is a total cop-out. I totally jumped the gun on the fall thing and published this post way too early, but you know what? I’m posting it again because this week homegirl is tired. And now it really feels like fall. Here we go again, ya’ll.

This post was originally published in July of 2014.

“You guys. Fall is almost here. Target has put out their insanely large, insanely cute display of Back to School supplies. I’m trying desperately to stay away from it. I’m also preparing to teach a course this fall. So crazy. Feel free to refer to me as “professor.”

I’m also still on this saving money kick, but it hasn’t been much fun. I’m the kind of person who needs something to look forward to– like a trip! Since a trip is out of my budgetary reach and the summer is almost over (boo!), I created a list of free or cheap things to do this fall. I hope it will keep my spirits up, give me me something to look forward to and maybe even get you inspired and excited for fall?!

  1. Set some fun fall goals
  2. Donate school supplies to a child in need
  3. Volunteer
  4. Donate your gently-used winter coats to someone in need
  5. Enroll in a class at your local community college
  6. Take a hike
  7. Admire the foliage
  8. Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice in your morning coffee
  9. Get up early to admire the sunrise
  10. Learn to knit!
  11. Get an early start on making Holiday gifts
  12. Host a pot-luck Friendsgiving (a Thanksgiving with friends)
  13. Put pumpkin in everything!
  14. Visit a pumpkin patch (or do what my mom did and tell us we are visiting a pumpkin patch, but really just go to the grocery store and play on the pumpkin display)
  15. Go on a hay ride
  16. Visit a corn maze
  17. Carve pumpkins
  18. Don’t forget to roast the seeds!
  19. Rake the leaves
  20. Jump in the leaves!
  21. Winterize your home (or your Airstream!)
  22. Visit the library and check out Autumn-themed books
  23. Bake a pumpkin pie
  24. Share the pie with your neighbor
  25. Camp in your own backyard
  26. Chop wood
  27. Find the perfect walking stick
  28. Build a fire pit
  29. Make hobo packets
  30. Roast marshmallows
  31. Tell ghost stories
  32. Enjoy a pumpkin beer
  33. Go on a bike ride
  34. Go on a fall-themed picnic
  35. Learn to can vegetables
  36. Plant winter veggies
  37. Or plant bulbs for next spring
  38. Do lots of autumn-themed crafts
  39. Donate or sell the summer clothing that you didn’t wear
  40. Pear down your winter wardrobe
  41. Host a clothing swap
  42. Or swap online on Swapdom
  43. Sell your wares at a flea market
  44. Go apple picking
  45. Bob for apples
  46. Make candy apples
  47. Learn to make apple cider or jam
  48. Pop popcorn and drizzle it in caramel
  49. Drink hot apple cider
  50. Drink hot chocolate
  51. Break out your crock-pot
  52. Make pumpkin chili!
  53. Don’t forget the cornbread!
  54. Eat your weight in fall veggies– squash and Brussels sprouts and cabbage, oh my!
  55. Get excited for fall fashion
  56. Break out the flannel
  57. Pull on those wool socks
  58. Don’t worry about bad hair days, just put on a beanie!
  59. If you are a lady, pull on those thick tights (and don’t worry about shaving your legs!)
  60. If you are a dude, grow a beard!
  61. Cuddle up in your oldest sweatshirt
  62. Wrap up in warm blankets
  63. Watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  64. And A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
  65. Go to bed earlier
  66. Visit the fair or a fall festival (save money with these tips)
  67. Host a Halloween party
  68. Make your own Halloween costume and challenge yourself to use only stuff you can find around the house
  69. Dress up your pet!
  70. Craft creepy snacks like this Slimer Smoothie
  71. DIY candy
  72. Watch your favorite scary movie with a friend
  73. Read scary stories under the cover with a flashlight
  74. Listen to the Halloween station on Pandora
  75. Make spiced nuts
  76. Slurp on some soup and grill up an old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich
  77. Make beeswax candles
  78. Discover your local farmer’s market
  79. Slowly sip a cup of hot tea
  80. Pretend that you like candy corn
  81. Discover the real meaning of Thanksgiving
  82. Be more grateful by creating a gratitude journal
  83. Make turkey hands! They’re still fun, even when you’re almost 30!
  84. Simply sit outside and enjoy the cool weather
  85. Join a local foraging group and forage for wild edibles
  86. Make acorn soup
  87. Or mushroom soup from the forage
  88. Make real cranberry sauce and put it on french toast!
  89. Pour maple syrup on everything!
  90. Enjoy the Harvest Moon on September 8th
  91. Invite your friends over and create fall-themed cocktails
  92. Make a pine cone bird feeder and keep those birds fed all winter
  93. Paint your nails an autumn-colored hue
  94. Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos and honor your deceased loved ones
  95. Break out the board games and your favorite jammies
  96. Give your mum some mums!
  97. Attend a high school football game
  98. Join a sports program for adults
  99. Participate in a zombie crawl
  100. Or a Turkey Trot for charity
  101. Take lots of pictures to document your memories!

Are you ready for fall? I’m feeling a little more ready and hopeful after this list.

What are your favorite fall-themed free activities? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie