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 in this post.
I got an unexpected discount on my eye exam
I’ve been very mindful the past several months of trying to plan out all the one-off expenses that come up during the course of a year, and I’ve put them all into a spreadsheet under various categories (medical, home maintenance and repair, car expenses, etc.) so that I can try and anticipate as many as possible before they come up. This is a fairly new practice for me, which meant that before, I was constantly surprised by expenses coming up that I really shouldn’t have been surprised by, like the month when our cars need to be registered, or the Sam’s Club membership renewed. (Note: If you’re interested in seeing what that spreadsheet looks like, I did a post all about it HERE.)
I had planned an eye exam and the purchase of new contacts into February’s budget, and I’d also called ahead to see how much the exam would cost. I got my eye exam done through Sam’s Club, and they recently had raised their price for an exam from $100 to $131, which raise I’d budgeted for. However, thanks to their computer system being down while I was there, they were forced to give me the old price so they could run the charge correctly, which meant I ended up saving $31. I’ll take it!
I found a loophole to get cheaper contacts
Contacts and prescription eyeglasses can get pricey, especially when you have super bad astigmatism as I do and require a special prescription, so I shopped around a bit to find a budget-friendly option. Something I learned at this last eye exam was that there are three different measurements that your eye doctor takes to try and give you the best vision possible, and each time you manipulate one of the three, the other two must be adjusted as well.
On my astigmatism measurement, the number is so extreme that most contacts companies wouldn’t even offer it as an option, and the ones that did would charge a lot. However, the optometrist explained that there was a way around that — he could manipulate the other two measurements so that my astigmatism can fall in a more “normal” range, with the results that I could see nearly just as well but save a lot of money.
Doing this allowed for me to get the Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism contacts that I like (and that are reasonably priced), and the optometrist also told me that since I don’t wear contacts all day, every day, I’m definitely fine to go much longer than the two-week period recommended by the company — he said I could probably for sure go at least a month, if not even more, as long as I was making sure to take care of the contacts in between use. I ended up ordering a box for each eye from Sam’s Club online, which should last me six months or longer. Because I’m a Plus member, I also got free shipping on the order (not to mention a discount on the contacts to begin with).
I took advantage of being in “the big city” to visit a few grocery stores
When Walmart is pretty much your only option, you start to view a trip into a bigger city as a prime time to visit other grocery stores just to add a little variety to your life, lol. I almost always visit Sam’s Club when I’m north since I by far prefer their produce to Walmart’s, but this time we also visited Smith’s to take advantage of a decent deal they were running on their Diet Dr. Pepper, and we also checked out Trader Joe’s for the first time ever so that I could pick up a bunch of their excellently-priced flowers for a bouquet arranging demo I was doing as part of the Cut Flower Gardening class I’m currently teaching at the local college. Obviously I normally would use flowers from our own flower farm for such a demo, but seeing as it’s February, I don’t exactly have anything available 🙂
We took our more gas-efficient car on a longer trip
We often can’t take our gas-efficient Mazda on longer trips because we almost always have our kids with us and need to take the minivan, but my mom had our kids this last weekend so that Matt and I could go to my 23-week anatomy ultrasound together (the doctor’s office only allowed one other adult to come with me). Considering that our Honda Odyssey gets around 20-22 miles per gallon on the highway and the Mazda easily gets 30-40, we saved a ton by taking that instead. Normally a trip to the bigger city an hour and a half north of us costs us about $25-30 in the van, but this time it only cost around $15.
I used my cash back business card to pay for spring expenses
I’m a big fan of taking advantage of credit card rewards programs as long as you’re able to pay off the balance in full every month, so when I was considering getting a credit card for our flower farm business this year, I made sure to look into ones offering some kind of cash back or other incentive. I didn’t want to pay an annual fee and we don’t do a ton of traveling at this point, so I decided to go for this basic cash back business card from Chase (who is also the company we went through for our personal credit card, especially as they were offering several bonus offers upon signing). While we’ll occasionally use a business debit card for the flower farm, we mostly put everything on the credit card so that we have a built-in way of saving money on things we needed to buy anyway since we get 1.5% cash back on everything. Sure, it’s not a ton, but they’re expenses we have to put out anyway, so we might as well get *something* back if we can.
Other Frugal Wins:
- I got an unexpected free meal from McDonald’s thanks to an error in the app and a kind manager who recognizes me from frequent Diet Dr. Pepper runs 🙂
- Matt’s work had an extra step stool and trash can they weren’t using (both like new), so he brought those home for the kids since we didn’t have a wastebasket in their bedroom and since we can always use another stool so they can reach higher things.
I’ll be posting my Valentine’s Day frugal wins next week, but I sure hope you enjoy your holiday, however you spend it! Don’t forget to drop your own frugal wins below 🙂