Every week I share five frugal things that I’ve done during that week just to show you that the small things you do all add up to a great frugal lifestyle where you can learn to live a fabulously frugal life.
Before I start though, I do want to say that being frugal to me is about getting the best value for our money – it’s not about doing without for us or about not having nice things. We all have different financial situations and we’re all frugal for different reasons – we’re frugal so we can afford to do nice things together.
1) I hate to use the ‘C’ word when it’s only the middle of October but on Wednesday, I relaunched my Christmas Planner Printable for those of you who are in planning mode. It’s covers everything you’ll need to have an organised Christmas and if you’re anything like me, the build-up to Christmas is something I enjoy even more than the day itself so you’ll love this!
And because I was having a play with the planner to update it to 2018, Christmas was on my mind so I made a few plans of my own.
It’s going to be an odd one for us this year as we don’t have my Dad and we’d been toying with the idea of going out for lunch – simply because we’d been invited and I thought that might help us not dwell on the fact that he wasn’t with us. I just can’t justify the cost though because we’re not usually ones for an all singing all dancing Christmas lunch – ours is really just a Sunday Dinner with crackers. 😉
This year though, I think we’re going to embrace it all and start some new Christmas Lunch traditions – my planner’s already filled with ideas and I even have a secret Pinterest board filled with all sorts of corny Christmas things. It’s too early to unleash that on you just yet but a bit closer the time, I might even share it with you. 😉
In the meantime though, you can print off a copy of my Christmas Planner and start to get yourself organised with the basics because Christmas planning really is the key to saving money at this time of year.
2) Poor Miss Frugal has had a cold this week which is never nice – especially not when she has so much homework and revision to get through as well as things planned in with her friends.
I went to get her some cold and flu tablets to see if they’d help and although I’d never scrimp when it comes to health and anything that can make the kids better, I did buy the own brand tablets because they have exactly the same active ingredients in as their more expensive branded equivalents. They didn’t work miracles but I’m confident that they did just as good a job as the ones which cost three times as much as they definitely eased her symptoms and made the week easier to get through.
3) Miss Frugal and I go away in a couple of weeks for our annual girls holiday – something which is becoming more and more important to me as she gets older and more involved in her own world. This year we’re going all out and heading off for a week somewhere glam and about as far from frugal as possible. Before you roll your eyes though (I start lots of sentences in my house with that phrase having two teenagers) let me explain…
So, we always book to go away in March or April but this year, with my Dad not being well we decided to choose a week in March to set aside and save our money up as we normally do each month but not actually book anywhere until closer to the time. Unfortunately, we made the decision at the start of the year that with things the way they were, I really didn’t want to be far from home so we postponed until October Half Term.
Miss Frugal completely understood but was naturally disappointed so we decided to go all out and book a trip to Los Angeles!
It was much easier to afford that you might think as we’d already saved for our planned week in March so an extra six months would give us more time to pay for the more expensive trip. The next part of this story is something I’m pretty sure I already told you but basically, as I was being a good budget conscious traveller I booked a lovely but very reasonably priced hotel which was a bit further out of town to save some money. A little while after booking, I was reading up on the hotel when I discovered that the reason it was so reasonably priced was that there was a fair amount of road noise on one side of the hotel and it was much further out than the description on the website had led me to believe. (If you’re interested, here’s why I didn’t check Trip Advisor first)
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I complained and was absolutely blown away by the companies response – they offered to upgrade us free of charge to one of the best hotels in Beverly Hills. The hotel is WAY out of our budget and more than anything we would be willing to pay even if we could afford it so we’re beyond excited at this point.
This week, I’ve been spending lots of time trying to find as many free things to do as possible while we’re away and I’ve started to write a bit of a day by day itinerary which we may or may not stick to but at least it’s there. I’ve split everything down by the main areas I know we want to visit and explore so for example, I know we’re going to want to visit Santa Monica so I have a list of places we want to visit and things we want to go take a photo of – we have things like playing chess in the chess park, visiting the Pier, some time of the beach if it’s nice enough and much more than we could probably ever fit into just one day. Most of it won’t cost us a penny (or a dime) and by spending some time before I go doing a little bit of research, I know we’re going to see everything we want to see and not miss out on any hidden gems.
4) Did you catch my Butternut Squash and Ginger soup earlier this week?
It was so tasty and made with some fresh ginger which I got from the reduced section and I went on to use the rest of the ginger for some Christmas baking experimenting.
5) When I popped to the shop to get Miss Frugal’s cold and flu tablets, I overheard a conversation between the lady in front of me and the man serving her on the till. The lady had bought about five smallish things and when asked if she needed a carrier bag, she said that she might as well buy one as hers were in the boot of the car. Looking at what she had and the size of her handbag, she could easily have fit most of her purchases in there and just carried the larger item back to the car or she could have even just wheeled her trolley to the car and put the things in the bag without the use of a plastic bag. It’s not about this one lady though as there are plenty of valid reasons why she did that, but a quick look around the checkouts shows how it’s second nature just to buy a bag rather than think of the alternatives.
Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why neither of those options would have worked for this lady but the point I’m trying to make is that when I was asked if I wanted a carrier bag, I said no and popped the painkillers that I’d bought in my handbag whilst carrying the loaf of bread I’d also bought in my hand to the car where I popped it in the boot. If I’d bought more, I would have just wheeled my trolley to the car and packed my bag there or even better, made Mr Frugal run out to the car when I realised I’d forgotten to bring the bags in with me.
The savings of not buying these bags aren’t huge but it does add up over a longer period. I’ll be honest though, the reason I try not to keep buying bags isn’t for the money saving benefits, it’s because I know that if I don’t buy a bag then there’s one less plastic bag is being used in the world. And if we were all to do the same then that would start to make a real difference.
As usual, we’ve been having some really good discussions this week over in our Live Well, Spend Less Facebook group. We’d love to welcome you to our little community if you fancy popping in.
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