This is a series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I post weekly 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!
Yep, definitely another spend-y week. But an important thing I’ve learned over the past few years is to not view more spending as “bad.” I definitely used to feel almost guilty anytime I spent money (especially on “non-necessity” objects; the guilt didn’t really extend to spending money on experiences as much), but now that I’ve chosen a personal money philosophy–which is to save money wherever possible on the things I don’t care too much about so that I can more freely spend happily on the things that I do — that has helped me to rewrite some of the unhelpful mental scripts I realized I had around money.
I can tell you WHY I used to feel guilty — it’s because for much of my adult life, I’ve definitely HAD to be very, very frugal in order to make do with the pay we were making, especially once we went to one income after having kids. And during those periods of time, I would occasionally splurge on a book or a new shirt when I felt the pressure of constantly penny pinching, which would then cause me to feel intense guilt because we really didn’t have it in the budget for me to do that.
I think there’s something to be said about learning to sacrifice and live within your means (which are wonderful skills that I’m SO grateful I have!), but I did start to notice in the last couple of years that I tended to generalize that feeling of guilt to ANY unnecessary spending, even when we could afford it.
Not a healthy way to live, either.
So that’s why I’ve consciously adopted my money philosophy, and why I’ve been gradually helping myself to have a healthier attitude towards spending in general. All in all, I’d say I’ve been doing pretty good, although I do still have my moments. I will say that even on those things that are important to me (books, time and experiences with family and loved ones, stuff for our garden, things that help promote health and wellbeing), I’ll still look for ways to be frugal where I can, but I don’t beat myself up about it if I’m occasionally splurging or paying full price.
Anyway, random philosophical bent aside, here are some of the ways I’ve been frugal lately:
Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, or services mentioned in this post.
I used a promo code to buy a hospital grade nose sucker for the baby
Something I didn’t know until I had a baby with Down syndrome was that people with DS generally have much narrower nose passages than other people. This can make it a lot more serious when babies and children with DS get anything that causes congestion because it means they’re more likely to be hospitalized when they contract sicknesses like RSV.
Since Naomi already has to be on supplemental oxygen at night anyway, we didn’t want to wait until she got sick and super congested in order to invest in something that would help us provide her relief at home, so we ended up investing in The Noze Bot, which was recommended to us by another family whose son has DS. It’s basically a nose suction device that works similarly to those used in hospitals and was created by a doctor, and we’ve already been using it as Naomi did happen to get sick with congestion this last week.
Often when you suction out a baby’s nose, they’ll freak out on you and hate every second, but the way this is designed has made it so that Naomi doesn’t seem to really mind it at all. It’s already helped to bring us a lot of peace of mind and offered her a lot of relief, so we’re super happy we invested in this early on with her. I only wish I would have known about it before to use with our other kids when they were babies!
Before checking out though, I made sure to search for promo codes first, which saved me around $15.
P.S. I ended up loving the device so much (we use it all the time) that I requested to become an affiliate myself, and they gave me a promo code to share with any of you who might be interested! The promo code is TORRIEM and it will save you 10% 🙂
I made inexpensive neighbor gifts for Christmas (again)
I’ve now been doing this series for a whole year, and one of the very first things I wrote about was when I made inexpensive Christmas gifts to hand out to neighbors and friends last December. Because I know that people are inundated with a lot of sweets for the holiday, I decided to go in a different direction and give away something that was both tasty AND good for you — homemade chicken broth!
I use a recipe that I got out of this book for new moms, and from the very first time I ever made it, we were HOOKED. This broth is pure gold, and whenever my husband gets sick in the winter, this is actually his pick-me-up of choice to help him feel better ASAP.
We decided to do the same thing again this year as it’s so cost effective to make yet really delicious, and we delivered most of them last night.
I made a floral arrangement instead of buying one
As mentioned above, our personal money philosophy is all about trying to literally put our money where our priorities are, and something we’re trying to put a lot more emphasis on is spending time with loved ones. My sister turned 40 this last weekend, and I wanted to do something special for her, so we met up for lunch on her big day, and I stopped at Trader Joe’s beforehand to buy flowers to make into an arrangement.
Something funny I noticed — since I literally needed to make up the arrangement in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s (which was close to the restaurant in a town about 90 minutes away from my house), I’d brought all my tools and things I’d need to make up a floral arrangement on the fly. Living in a small town, I expected a lot of people to stop and chat with me about what in the world I was doing (because that’s exactly what would have happened if I’d done it in the parking lot of my local Walmart), but in the bigger city? Literally almost no one even looked at me. Huh. Matt and I talked about it when I got back home, and both of us laughed that we’d officially become small town folks because we forgot that when you’re in the city, people act like everyone else is generally invisible.
Anyway, floral arranging is a great skill to have, and once you know how to put together arrangements, it’s a lot of fun to be able to give them as gifts. If I would have bought this arrangement from a florist, it would have cost me somewhere in the ballpark of $150-$185, but I was able to just do it for the wholesale cost of the flowers, as I already had the vase, floral tape, and floral snips on hand.
My sister and I had a wonderful lunch with each other, and I was so glad I made time in my schedule to spend that time together. It gave my whole weekend a boost!
We changed our original Christmas gift plan in order to stay on budget
Matt and I had talked about going a different (read: more expensive) route for Christmas this year, but then we ended up changing our minds once we reminded ourselves that our kids already have PLENTY of toys and that we’d be better off going simple this year, especially as we’ve drastically been minimizing our possessions. We’d also made a list of random household things we wouldn’t mind replacing or getting new ones of, but when all was said and done, we ended up tweaking all the plans so that we could 1) stay within our original budget, and 2) not add a ton of stuff to the house we’d just decluttered.
All in all, I feel good about everything we’ve purchased for Christmas this year and am really glad we went in a new direction from what we’d originally been talking about.
I used a (brand new) decorative notebook as part of a present that I wasn’t going to use
One great benefit of going all in on minimalism is that it’s taught me to know myself (my current self, most critically) very well. I am much more realistic about what I actually will use vs. what my ideal self thinks I *might* someday use, so it’s a lot easier to part with things, even if they’re beautiful and even if they’re brand new.
I got a gorgeous blank notebook with a floral cover, and in theory, it should be perfect for me — I’m obviously obsessed with flowers, and I love to make lists and set goals and stuff like that. The problem? I don’t really write in notebooks anymore, and on the rare occasions that I do, I already have a cheap notebook that I’ve been filling with my random notes and sketches for the flower farm. So I’m gifting the brand new floral notebook to someone who will love it AND actually use it.
Other Frugal Wins
- We saved some of the leftovers from making the chicken broth to give to our dog, and I made a second batch of broth (using the same carcass/veggie remains from the first) to make a tasty base for our own dinner.
- I used the same Old Navy hack I mentioned last week (combined with a 50% off promo code) to get socks for all the kids’ stockings for a steal. I also used Rakuten to get further cash back.
- I started giving my daughter piano lessons again. I’d taken a long hiatus after Naomi came early and her subsequent NICU stay (plus everything that happened after), but I finally felt like I had the time and energy to pick it back up again. Luckily she hadn’t forgotten *too* much! (I’m teaching her out of this series, in case you’re curious.)
How’s your week leading up to Christmas looking?