Friday, March 11, 2011

Frugal Fatigue Part 2. The Possibilities are Endless!

Saving money is serious business. Below is Part 2 of Combating Frugal Fatigue. (I have a feeling this is going to be an ongoing series).

Remember, small changes here and there can add up to big savings in the long run. Think big picture.

1. If you wear contact lenses, try 1800Contacts. I have saved approx $30-$40 (compared to Dr. office prices, same name brand) for a year's supply. And to take it a step further: Stop wearing your contacts so much and wear your glasses more. If you are on the computer a lot (especially since you read my blog daily) you are prone to dry eyes. The glasses are a great way to give your eyes a rest and they make you look wicked smart. If you cut down on lens wear, you also save money on the ridiculously overpriced cleaning solutions.

The frames of today are so cute and trendy and I've been told that some people wear glasses even if they don't need to! What are you waiting for? I bought mine at JcPenney Optical. Check them out for some great coupon deals. I received excellent service there and love my new specs! (Note: This money saving method only works if you don't have eyes that are constantly changing. I happen to have the same Mrs. Magoo eyes since I was 13).

2. Thrift stores Save a suffering non-profit while shopping for treasures.

3. Lighten up on the gas pedal. Yes, we know you are in a hurry to schlep little Johnnie and Suzie to their baseball games and tutu fittings, but do you have to drive so fast and furious? Think about how much gas you are wasting every time you slam on that pedal. Let's go for a kinder, gentler foot, eh? Lighter foot= less road kill.

4. Use less....of everything. Do you really need 18 squares of toilet paper to wipe each time? Take a tip from my 3 year old. He uses 1 square each time (and if he doesn't rip the exact shape of a square, he has a conniption). Can you spare a square?

  • Use the lights less
  • Use your bath towels 3 times before you wash them.
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Take shorter showers
  • Stop wasting plastic zip bags for kids' snacks and instead use small plastic containers. The landfill will thank you too.
5. Forgo the "Snack Pack" mentality and make your own. Overpriced, more packaging, more waste, more "unnatural" food. Don't fall into their trap!

6. Wash your own car

7. Clean your own house

8. Cook your own food

9. Swap babysitting with friends so you won't have to pay a sitter. A win/win!

10. Check out this blog for more great suggestions on Sharing It Forward.

Please share your frugal tips. The best of the bizarre are welcome!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Combating Frugal Fatigue

There is a new buzz word for you. Frugal Fatigue.

My own definition?

"Living on lentil soup, buying undies at the Salvation Army, borrowing movies from the liberry, reusing teabags, showering only on even days, generic everything, and feeling so deprived one goes out in retaliation and buys a $3000 Coach handbag."

Has this happened to you? Are you tired of scrimping, saving, scrappin' and survivin'? I think a lot of folks are and some wind up in worse trouble.

With the price of gas soaring literally by the minute, we all have to watch our spending and it's looking like we are in for another $4/gallon summer. And everything else is rising as a result.

I declared today a No Drive or Spend Day. I just hunkered down with the little one, and paid attention to some neglected house duties and just played with my boy. And it was a great day!

Some tips below to help you save and possibly rethink your spending habits:
1. Buy generic! A recent study showed a family of 6 can save $4000-5000 per year if they bought mostly generic products. Many store brands are just as good and contain the same ingredients as name brands. This applies to all over the counter meds too. They are all regulated by the same higher power, just cheaper!

Laundry, dish washing detergent, talcum powder, aluminum foil, etc are all products that end up down the drain or in the trash and are definitely worth trying generic.

2. Buy in bulk, but only if it's something your family eats/uses a LOT of on a regular basis.

3. Shop around (but only if you have time and it's not wasting more gas). Keep a running list on your fridge of the most frequently bought products and where the cheapest price is for that product. Then stock up.

4. Designate certain days (or weeks, if you can swing it) as "No spending days". I know this is not helping the economy but if you're struggling, it's not your JOB to stimulate the economy so much. You do need to worry about your own needs! Eat what you have in the house. Don't be afraid or ashamed to tell the kids why and what you are doing. They need to know sooner or later. Let them help you get creative and try to make it fun. My kids love to clip coupons and help in the kitchen. Put them to work, stat!

5. Make a double batch of whatever you're cooking and freeze your leftovers for later. This will save you time and money later on. And check out DoItDelicious for some handy tips for freezing.

6. Keep a well stocked pantry and freezer. Frozen veggies are just as nutritious (if not more) and last longer than fresh produce. This will save you multiple trips to the market, saving time and gas. You can freeze lunch meat, hard cheeses, bread, soups, etc for later.

7. Consignment stores! It is now chic to shop here so what are you waiting for? I have bought incredible winter coats for the kids for $12. Brand new Easter outfits for less than $10. LL Bean snow pants for $5. And these items were all brand new. I feel no shame. Quite the contrary, I feel an incredible victory coursing through my veins when I find a treasure! AND, you can consign things that are outgrown and make some money back. Always a bonus!

Two stores I like: April Showers for the little ones and Flip Boutique for me. Check your local listings under "Consignment" or "Resale". You will be pleasantly surprised once you change your mindset. Most consignment stores only accept good quality, name brand items so you can feel good about your purchases.

8. Brown bag it every day and forgo the drive thru coffee. Healthier and cheaper, need I say more?

9. Stretch your haircuts a little longer than usual. If you normally go every 6 weeks, try 8 weeks. You might like your hair a little longer!

10. And speaking of beauty regimes, don't be afraid to try at home beauty treatments. Take a look at
this blog for more great suggestions.

11. Last but certainly not least:
Be grateful every single day for what you do have. Whether it's your health, your children's health, the roof over your head, getting through another day, or simply the melted snow; money does not buy true, inner happiness and peace. Hunker down, make the best of it for now, and be thankful you don't live somewhere like Haiti or Libya. Write down every day what you are thankful for and you will find you are the richest person alive.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Parenting 101: You heard it here first!

I've only been a mom for 7 plus years now. No one tells you what it's REALLY like. Well, search no more. Here is what it's all about, up until now (at least for me anyway) in no order of importance or sense:
  • knowing how to assemble and operate a breast pump in the dead of night
  • wondering if your contortionist skills rival those of the Cirque de Soleil performers
  • installing a car seat for your first baby in 3 hours (see 2ND bullet)
  • installing a car seat for your second baby in less than 10 minutes
  • delirium
  • covering your nipples in the shower
  • Using baby wipes to bathe..........yourself
  • walking through Babies R' US moaning "Why didn't I invent that?"
  • Lactation Consultants who manhandle your breasts to teach you the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
  • bite sized everything
  • twitching
  • being so tired that you'd rather pee the bed than get up during the night
  • eating chocolate in the closet
  • one minute picking out a crib, the next a pre-school and not being able to account for how you spent your time in between
  • being held hostage by a toddler who ____ (you fill in the blanks)
  • enjoying bubblegum toddler toothpaste a little too much
  • coffee
  • 30 minutes of dressing 2 kids in snowsuits, mitten, boots, hats.....5 minutes in the snow
  • lowered expectations
  • higher standards
  • animated movies that are so wrong for kids
  • endless story hours at the library
  • wondering how you used to spend your "free" time pre-kids
  • wondering when you'll stop referring to self in 3rd person ("Mommy's not happy!")
  • feeling breathless every time you check your child in the middle of the night. You look at him and wonder what happened to the little baby you were just holding in the hospital moments ago
  • step stools and examining their stools
  • desperately seeking inspiration from your tea bag quotes
  • Silly Bandz
  • Ring around the Rosie
  • neck pain
  • beautiful
  • breastfeeding on the toilet....and then answering the door to a mailman while baby is still latched on
  • eating standing up
  • hum drumm
  • a "top five" list of what they like to eat posted on the fridge
  • plastic mattress pads. for you too.
  • kids eat free on Tuesdays
  • a purse filled with buried crayons, gnarly granola bars, baby wipes and spare undies
  • saving your C-section pain meds longer than necessary
  • wishing there was a college major 20 years ago called Parenting, Toy Organization, and Dust-Bustering
  • feeling like a Lego hoarder
  • or just a hoarder in general
  • worrying about the landfill
  • crying
  • Gummy Vites
  • short order cook
  • having a baby throw up in your mouth and still not being as grossed out as going to Chuck E Cheese or Walmart
  • ABCs & 123s
  • sticky
  • avoiding the words "Play Date" as much as possible
  • wondering how your other mom friends are getting advanced degrees while you haven't finished a book since y2k
  • Groundhog Day
  • sunshine times 1 million
  • empowering
  • boring
  • more ways than one
  • lullabies with psychotic lyrics
  • a drawer with 18 ill-fitting different sized bras
  • 3000 Goodnight Moons
  • never tiring of hearing the word "mama"
  • sleep deprivation
  • out of body experience
  • yelling at big chooches in bouncy houses knocking your kid around
  • wondering when your breasts moved to a new zip code
  • like the Army; a lot of hurrying up, and waiting
  • majoring in minutiae
  • birthday cake for breakfast
  • one.more.kiss.
  • having more intimacy with your breast pump than your husband
  • pure magic
  • life changing
  • mind altering
  • body altering
  • blissful
  • memory loss
  • did I mention memory loss?

Fantasy Tax Deductions

Happy tax season to all! I happen to be sleeping with my tax man so our deductions are always documented very clearly. *Wink*Wink* (Yes, it's my husband who files ours each year, in case you are slow on the uptake.)

There's been some new talk about offering a tax credit for breastpumps to encourage mothers to breastfeed. While this seems like a genius idea to many, I am highly suspicious of grandpas, grandmas and 18 yr old boys going to Babies R'Us just to get the pump/receipt and sucking Uncle Sam dry once again.

This makes me think about what other deductions I'd like to see as they pertain to our household.

For the year 2011, I'd like to deduct the following. All living here rent free:

  • Legos

  • Hot Wheels cars

  • Fisher Price Little People

  • Megablocks

  • Stuffed animals (also known as "Mamauchies" by Nana Ginny)

  • Stickers

  • Crayons

  • Coloring books

  • Games

  • The Pet Rock named, you guessed it, "Rocky" who has been taking up residence in a yogurt container in the bathroom sink. He currently requires a regular dosage of ice to keep him alive.

  • The 5 Cox cable men who have bunked here for the better part of January.

And lastly:

Time spent shoveling snow, hearing people complain about the snow, looking at the snow, wondering how come they don't know how to drive in the snow, and how many cookies I baked (and ate) because of the snow.

What would you like to deduct this year? All fantasies welcome here!