This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Note: There are affiliate links to the books, products, and services mentioned below.
We did haircuts at home
One of our biggest frugal hacks in recent years has been to learn how to do haircuts at home, at least for Matt and the kids (I often will still get mine cut by a professional twice a year because the at-home route didn’t work great for my super thick hair).
We bought this highly rated at-home haircut kit about a year and a half ago, which includes clippers with 12 attachments and haircutting scissors, among other things. The first time I gave Matt a haircut was kind of terrifying because I obviously didn’t want to really mess it up, but after watching a few YouTube tutorials on it (this one is a favorite), I just went for it one day…and it actually turned out really good! I estimate that every time we cut Matt’s and our boys’ hair at home, we save between $50-$60, and considering they need haircuts at least 4-5 times a year, that ends up being a decent chunk of change.
Another way to think about it? The clippers had paid for themselves from just the first set of haircuts alone.
I had Matt pick up forgotten grocery items on his way home from work
Even though gas prices have gone down considerably in the last couple months (thank goodness!), I’m still very mindful of our gas usage since it’s still a large chunk of our monthly expenses. Other than a small, very expensive grocer in our town, our closest grocery store is a Walmart in the next town over. Since Matt works in that town, whenever I just need a few things from the grocery store, I have him pick them up on his way home to save on gas since he’s out that way anyway.
It takes a little over a gallon of gas for us to drive in our minivan out to Walmart, so every trip I have him take for me probably saves us around $3. Considering he usually stops by once or twice a week for me, that adds up to an extra $20 or so in our pocket every month.
(The gas is something I also take into consideration when I just need one thing and we’re both at home. Even though the local grocery store a couple blocks away from us is extremely expensive, sometimes it’s worth it to pick up just one thing from there and save ourselves the $3 in gas. For example, if I just need milk and it costs $3.89 at my local grocer rather than the $2.99 at Walmart, it’s still worth it for me to pick it up from the more expensive store because we save $3 in gas by going to the one right by our house.)
I used Rakuten + our business cash back credit card on a large business order
Even though we’re currently paying off a big hunk of credit card debt, having consumer debt is extremely rare for us. In fact, this is the only time it’s really happened in our whole marriage, other than a couple months where we had to carry over a bit of a balance until we could cash flow the rest of a couple big hospital bills we put on a card. I think credit cards are a bad idea if you’re continually carrying a balance on them and paying interest on them, but I’m all for strategically using credit cards to save money, earn points, and get rewards. In fact, it’s the main reason we hardly spend any money on our clothing.
Therefore, I often will charge large purchases to our credit cards in order to take advantage of the rewards program, then I’ll pay them off in full immediately after. For our flower farming business, we have some large expenses that come up every year, most often in the spring and fall. We have the money budgeted for those expenses, but if I can save money, why wouldn’t I?
Case in point — whenever I go through a retailer (aka, not my wholesaler, who requires a minimum dollar amount) to buy seeds and bulbs, I always check first to see if I can get cash back through Rakuten. The thing I like about the Rakuten app is that you can add their internet browser extension so that anytime you visit a retailer who offers cash back, a little thing pops down that asks you if you want to activate it. A lot of other cash back sites require more effort on your part (such as with submitting receipts), so the fact that all I have to do is just push a button to get cash back makes it super easy for me to save as much as I can.
I wasn’t sure if any of the retailers I was ordering spring bulbs from would offer cash back, but it turns out that Eden Brothers does, which is where I was planning on getting some anemone corms and dahlia tubers from anyway. So, between the cash back from Rakuten and the cash back from my credit card, I ended up getting around $10 back in my pocket. Not a huge amount, sure, but since it’s money I was going to be spending anyway, I might as well get back what I can, especially since it required virtually almost zero effort from me.
If you’ve never used Rakuten before, you can get an extra $30 back by going through my referral link.
We had the kids share meals when we went out to eat
The original plan was not to go out to eat this last week at all, but Matt had some leftover Christmas cash he’d gotten, and he proposed we drive down south about 50 minutes to the nearest thrift store so we could drop off a huge donation load we’d been putting together, and he would use his personal Christmas money to treat us all after.
Whenever we go out to eat, we almost never order individual meals for each of the kids. Not only is that way more expensive, but they almost always waste quite a bit of food that way. Since Raven (who’s coming up on 8 years old) can definitely put down all or most of a meal by herself, we do order her a kids meal. For the boys, we just have them share our adult meals since the portions are always so huge. On Saturday we went out for burgers and fries, so Mathias shared with Matt (since they both needed to eat the gluten-free bun), and Hyrum shared with me. We easily save between $12 and $16 every time we do this.
We have a low cost phone plan
As I was thinking through what frugal wins I could include for this week, our cell phone bill came due, which cost $60 for two phones (and which can cost us as little as $52 a month for two phones). We’ve gone with even cheaper cell phone plans in the past (such as Tello), but when we moved out to the country, our cell phone coverage was poor with almost all major cell phone companies and MVNOs (which are the small carriers that use the bigger companies’ cell phone towers to provide service at a fraction of the cost), so we had to try something different.
In a last ditch attempt to save money before having to go with a bigger cell phone provider (probably Verizon), we tried out Google FI, which switches between networks depending on location to give you the best coverage. To our relief, it has worked amazing!
You don’t have to have a Google FI smartphone to use it (although mine is), and the base price for a flexible plan is $35 for two phones, plus $10/GB for data usage. Since we rarely use data (and instead utilize the wifi at home and at work), our monthly bills with taxes and fees included ends up being between $52 and $60 the vast majority of the time.
If you’re interested in trying it out, you can go through my referral link and get $20 off your first month’s bill.
Other Frugal Wins:
- I checked around for promo codes on all orders for the flower farm that I just put in and saved about $40 as a result (once for a coupon for free shipping and once for 20% off my order). Seriously, ALWAYS make sure you check for promo codes!!
- We went through more of the hand-me-down clothes we’d been given for our kids and organized them into bins by size. Earlier this winter, we bought a secondhand coat and new shoes for our kids because we didn’t think we had any in their current size. Lo and behold, once we went through all the bags lingering in the basement…there some were. Hopefully we can avoid future frugal fails now that the clothing is all organized and easy to find.
- Since we now know the gender of our final baby, we donated all the clothes of the other gender that we no longer need to keep. We did, however, keep the bins they were in since we were planning on getting new bins anyway to store some of the kids’ toys. Now we have less stuff in our house AND we have the bins we wanted!
What are your frugal wins this week?