Thursday, January 31, 2008

Frugal Confession- My Parents Were Ultra-Frugal

When I was about 11 years old, my parents were going through some really tough times financially. They were on the beans and macaroni plan before Dave made it popular. Every week, we would have pinto beans and mac and cheese for a couple of dinners.

One night, my mom was making beans and somehow accidentally scorched them. It made the whole house stink. If you have ever burned pinto beans you know that horrid smell I'm talking about.

In an effort to rescue the beans, they took them out of the pot and decided to make my great-grandmother's old recipe of bean patties. I kid you not. So, they took the horridly smelling, awful tasting burnt beans and you guessed it- battered and fried them right up. And we all had to sit down to dinner to eat these greasy brown patties.

It was the single most disgusting food I can ever remember trying to eat. My parents gave us ketchup to put on them, but nothing we tried could make these patties taste better.

Luckily they had a sense of humor about the whole thing and we ate mostly mac and cheese that night. Ever since then, it's been a inside joke in our family.

Most people would have thrown the beans out, but hey, even though we didn't eat them, we have a great family memory. Sometimes the ultra-frugal mishaps can be fun too!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Coping with Frugality Burnout

J.D. over at GetRichSlowly posted this article just in time, "How to Cope with Frugality Burnout." It was like a reading about my own life....! :)

He quotes Sara Noel:

"It can get tiring to make cheaper choices or overthink small decisions like what laundry detergent to buy. It’s enough to make you crack when you have so many other things to do every day."

I also like this quote on how to cope:

"Cut yourself some slack. If your budget is so tight that you feel deprived, you run the risk of giving up altogether. “Frugality doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” Noel says, and she’s right. As long as your remain focused on you goal, it’s okay to take a break from time-to-time. Just don’t overdo it. (Buying a DVD is a good way to blow off steam; buying a new HDTV is not.)"

Sometimes the best way to cope is to realize burnout is normal and to find others who have been through it to give you advice like this! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Frugal Confession- The Gazelle has Jumped the Fence


It's confession time once again. And it's a big one.

I am tired of being frugal. Really tired of it.

I don't want to sell our nice car, I don't want to have to price shop for everything. I still want to buy only things that we can afford, but I don't get excited anymore about extra money that goes toward debt. It's more like a sigh, and with a mouse click the money is gone to reduce some number on my computer screen. The luxury and expense of a anniversary cruise won't even fit into the picture of the next three years.

The love, the gazelle intensity- it's dying.

I want to go to Sam's and pick up fruit because its better there, without doing math on how much each orange will cost, and comparing it to see if Walmart is cheaper. I want to buy the fresh bagels, not the day old ones. I don't want to feel guilty about buying bagels in the first place when I could find a way to make them at home.

Can you tell I am tired? :)

Deep down I know that we will have to keep doing the frugal thing- and even when we have no debt, we will still need to be frugal. For us to get to the place where fresh bagels aren't too expensive, we need work hard and get this debt paid off. I know that, and I am sure we will keep it up, I just miss that all-fired-up desire to be gazelle intense. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Frugal Confession- I Pay an Extra $4 When Dining Out

When we go out for dinner (which is thankfully far less often than we did in the past!)- we commit the ultimate frugal living sin. We buy soft drinks.

It's almost $4 for two drinks these days. It's awful. We know it. Restaurants don't even put soft drink prices on the menu anymore- maybe they are ashamed that they are ripping people off. :)

I have to say, we have improved significantly in the restaurant soft-drink arena. We probably buy soft drinks only half of the times we go out for dinner now. It's just so hard to drink water for some reason. Dr. Pepper is linked with dining pleasure, a special treat, like dining out, while tap water is linked with cheapness and often tastes bad to me.

Sometimes I prefer water over soda but usually it's a conscious decision to save money that keeps me drinking water with lemon. We haven't gone to full-time restaurant water drinking yet. Maybe we will get there soon. We will definitely save more money when we do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

$10 off $75 at Home Depot

From Slickdeals.net:

Home Depot $10 off $75 and more

Go to link above.

Enter your zip or 19101

Go to Home and Yard tab, then House Improvement.

Coupon will be listed good to 1/30/08

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Frugal Trade-offs

Paidtwice has an interesting point in this post. Sometimes, what seems to be the frugal choice actually isn't the most frugal decision you can make when you calculate the extra expenses that are involved.

Sam's has the best price on chicken breast by $2 compared to Walmart, but Sam's is an extra 18 miles round trip, and with gas at $3 per gallon, it would cost me almost $3 to drive there from Walmart. So that chicken actually ends up being $1 more at Sam's. Gas used to be a necessary expense you never calculate, but these days it can actually be a deal breaker.

Frugal Confession- I Love Expensive Makeup

I have to confess- I am in love with department store makeup. It all started after my first semester in college. I had just finished finals, and my roommates and I decided to reward ourselves with a makeover at Dillard's.

I had never even thought to buy makeup at one of those expensive-looking counters. But a free makeover sounded like fun. I had always used drugstore makeup and was never really happy with it, but after wasting tons of money trying other inexpensive kinds I gave up and stuck with the cheapest stuff I could buy.

Until I got my makeover. I went to the Clinique section, got my makeover and was a convert. Never had I known that makeup could feel light and soft! I bought the foundation and eyeliner, at $20 and $14 respectively. I have been a consistent buyer ever since, spending $35 about every 6 weeks on makeup of all things.

I used to think that just because I could buy four $5 foundations for the same price, I was overpaying. And so, when funds were low, I would go back and try to spend $5 on foundation. I would wear it for a few days and then end up buying the $20 foundation because it was so much better, effectively wasting my $5 on the cheap stuff. I used to have the mindset that quantity equals quality. But I think I have found something un-frugal that is higher quality that makes my life better and easier.

Occasionally I will find a good brand at the drug store when I am doing my almost free CVS shopping, but I tend to go back to Clinique over and over again. I haven't changed my ways yet. And I am not sure I can.

My name is Mandy, and I am a Clinique addict.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Money Making Opportunity for Writers

NewsTarget.com, a citizen journalism website is looking for writers. They want news articles that are factual and impartial, generally health based, and are current news. If you are accepted as a writer, you use your own AdSense account and collect all money from hits from Google- what they claim is usually $5-$25 per article in the first 72 hours and average $1 or less per day after that. Of course as they grow, the more likely you are to gain revenue. After 30 days you are free to post the article anywhere else.

From the website:

What kind of article content is NewsTarget looking for?

We are seeking factual news reporting articles. We are NOT looking for opinion articles or satire pieces. Articles should not contain opinion statements. However, our overall focus is to promote natural health, green living and disease prevention through nutrition. We are also looking for articles that cover the dangers of conventional medicine, pharmaceuticals, the FDA, processed foods and so on.

Find out more here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Consumer Reports and Gyms

Trent over at The Simple Dollar did a great write up about the latest issue of Consumer Reports.

One of my favorites he mentioned:

"Never join a gym without using a free trial period. Most people who join gyms - and sign long, expensive contracts - don’t stick with it. Try getting a free trial - even a week-long one - and use it a few times. Do you honestly see yourself sticking with it? Hopefully, the answer is yes, but if the honest answer is no, don’t spend the cash. (p. 32)"

I got to try out my gym for one week before signing up. I think it was a brilliant move on their part. I liked the gym but I wanted to try the classes and meet the instructors before I committed to a year of membership.

I only wish we had a Bally Total Fitness in our town! Bally and DiscoveryHealth are giving away a free 8 week trial membership! Sign up for their National Body Challenge and get a certificate for 8 free trial weeks at the gym. I was surprised to see them give this away, since you would think that eight weeks would be as long as people needed to see they wouldn't actually stick with it. I think it's quite brilliant though, because they are getting people they wouldn't get otherwise, and if only half stay that is way more than they would have had if they hadn't offered it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Frugal Confession- I Hate Kids Meals

One of my favorite childhood memories is going to McDonald's and getting a Happy Meal with a special magic doll as a toy. I remember the special box with arches for handles. I loved getting a Happy Meal.

I guess that's why I feel really cheap when I won't buy my own kids a Happy Meal. It's ridiculously expensive. I can't bring myself to pay for two kids meals at McDonald's or anywhere else. Since we have two boys, rather than buying a kids meal for each of them, we often buy larger portioned individual items and split them, or they share with me.

The price of kids meals at sit-down restaurants are usually $3.99 and up, and we save a lot of money by buying side dishes and sharing. It's the McDonald's kids meals I feel bad about. We spend $3 to feed both boys when we go there, which isn't very often. Kids meals would cost us $6. I just wonder if maybe I am being too cheap and I should splurge now and then and go for the kids meal so it's a special treat, and they have memories like I did of the Happy Meal. Or maybe I could just pull out an old toy they don't remember after we go to McDonald's instead... :)

Do you have any Frugal Confessions? Please share them with us- just leave a comment or post about it on your blog and use Mr. Linky to leave your link! Find out more about Frugal Confessions Thursday here.