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Halloween Frugal

Photo Credit: jacobsas via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: jacobsas via Compfight cc

 

Well it’s October and Halloween is just in another short two weeks!!!! I already see lawns being decorated like crazy with all sorts of monsters, ghouls, witches, inflatable cats and all other random stuff. It’s time for to think of what I want to be for Halloween and if I want to give out candy to the hordes of children that will overrun my neighborhood. It’s hard being frugal when it comes to the holidays!

Halloween is the start of the holiday season which means my wallet will be pulled into a million different places starting now! With every single holiday comes a set of money sucking decisions to be made. Decorations made specifically for each holiday alone and all the festivities that come along with it! Usually I end up making a lot of decorations by hand to save some mula and cutting down on those “must have items.”

Handmade everything!
For Halloween costumes I definitely cannot justify buying a pre-made crappy costume that I will only wear once. I usually end up throwing something together out of items I already have available or with minimal cost from a craft store. Luckily I do have a lot of materials lying round from other projects that I usually can scrap something together out of felt. It’s also kind of fun scrapping something together and seeing if it works or not. Last year I was a gnome and made a hilarious tall cone hat and beard made out of felt. Pretty funny. Cost was nothing since I already had materials on hand! Fun!

Use what you already have or make sure you can use it again
If I can’t make it I usually try to re-purpose something I have around. For a gnome outfit I used my husband’s bright blue collar button down shirt with a belt across the middle. This year I had to buy some socks to complete my outfit unfortunately but at least it’s something I will wear again.

Candy for the kids
Last year was my first time ever handing out candy in my home! I had no idea what I was in for. I bought a Costco sized bag (150 pieces) of good brand name candy and thought I would be set for the night. An hour and a half later I was out! I had to turn off my porch lights and hide in my house so that kids wouldn’t come trick or treating. For the next two hours after that every time I looked out the window it looked like a Halloween movie set with kids covering the sidewalk. Most of these kids aren’t from the neighborhood but since it’s a safe area they get dropped off by the truckload. This year I’ll try two big bags of candy to see how that goes and then shut off my lights. I could get cheaper stuff but when I was a kid this was the stuff I was excited to get. Well, in truth I was excited to get full size candy bars but I’m not willing to shell out money for that!

Decorations
I’m skipping out on these for sure. As much as I would like to I figure I’m already buying a ton of candy to give out. Kids will come up to my door no matter what anyway. Plus I’m honestly not so into Halloween that I need to have tons of decorations to celebrate! Perhaps if anything I’ll take a look at the sales after Halloween to see what there is. Most of it is pretty cheesy though so I doubt I’ll get anything.

 

Another Halloween another year of dressing up and getting bomboarded by a bunch of kids. Fun! Haha and thank goodness it’s once a year.

How are you keeping Halloween low cost this year?

Overnight Spas, Yurts, and more!

Photo Credit: ucmediaproducties via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ucmediaproducties via Compfight cc

 

I was lucky enough this weekend to have the time to go to a day spa and relax for half the day. Time of course passes by really quickly when you’re having a good time and my 5 hours there were quickly over. While there though I was talking my friend and she had a brilliant idea! The spa we were at happened to be an overnight one on the weekends.For one flat price you would get access to all the facilities and have the option to stay overnight until the next morning. What a great money saving option for a traveler!

Overnight day spa
The first time I had gone there I had decided to get the full experience by staying overnight. Only on Friday nights but I thought it would be pretty fun. Relax in the hot tubs and saunas, chill out, sleep the night away in their sleeping room, then get up and pamper a bit before heading out. It wasn’t the best sleeping experience though as I found that a lot of late night party people used the spa. At 2am in the morning I could clearly hear the loud discussions of some drunk person discussing how delicious the $1 hot dog they had eaten was. The sleeping amenities also didn’t include any comfy pillows and instead offered a lovely wooden break with a concave portion for your head.

For $25 as the flat fee for use of everything there though it’s a steal compared to a hotel! If you were traveling with a small amount of luggage it could totally work! Relax, de-stress, bathe yourself silly, and save a ton of money. It makes so much sense! Except for the fact that it’s overnight spas are not the norm.

This got me thinking of other unconventional lodging.

Moveable places
Tents are pretty commonplace and many people have used them before for camping or for having an outdoor night in a backyard. Pretty normal. What about a yurt??? I first heard of a yurt from a co-worker that was talking about a friend who owned a yurt and had to move it because it was in the path of a lava flow. Totally foreign word to me and I had never heard of it before. It’s a moveable dwelling usually used by nomads. Similar to a tp but without the pointy tip at the top and a flat roof. I was pretty amazed to learn about yurts.

Fast forward a few months where I was bored on a plane and decided to read the in flight magazine provided. Who reads those??? On the very last page was an article about yurts! Not the traditional ones but blinged out yurts made out like a cabin. Pretty interesting how they’ve transformed it. Coincidentally the article happened to beĀ  written by my cousin-in-law. I don’t know how much it costs to rent a modern yurt, but a traditional yurt would be a great low cost option I would think.

RV living
Venice, California is known to be quirky and free-spirited. The boardwalk area is a great tourist destination to see strange events and feel the spirit of Venice. It’s also one of the only cities in LA that allows for RV parking. RV’s are parked everywhere in Venice! You’ll see old beat up ones, small ones that are like a big van, and sometimes even brand spanking million dollar RV’s! There are a ton of people who live in RV’s instead of a traditional apartment or house. It’s definitely not the easiest way to live but the cost can be pretty low (provided you are fine with an older RV).

Rocking a boat
I used to live in an area where tons of boats were able to dock. There are some that are houseboats and you can see people living in them year round. I even know a few people who have entertained the idea of buying a boat and living on it. The price to rent a slip is only a few hundred a month! Compared to $2000 for a one bedroom apartment in that area that’s a steal! Well of course you would need to buy a boat too…and it would be limited resources and adjusted living with shared onshore restrooms and shower possibly. Depending on what type of boat you owned and how fancy it was.

 

With the high prices of housing in LA there are plenty of people with unconventional lodging. Never really thought of it until today!

What’s the most unconventional place you’ve ever stayed or know of?

Fixing the small things

Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc

 

Stuff breaks down. It’s pretty inevitable especially with the way manufacturers aim for shorter shelf life and cheaper products. Whenever possible I try to buy something higher quality and spend a bit more so that it lasts longer. No matter what though electronics will always break since they have more parts. Printers only last a few years usually and computers are considered obsolete after a few years. It’s sad to just throw it out though so I try my best to fix it, and if its long gone then recycle it or donate it to Goodwill.

Even things like soap dispensers can be pretty complicated! I have two automatic soap dispensers for a couple of years now and so far they’ve both malfunctioned. One was just over the warranty period but was replaced because of the company’s excellent customer service. Another one I dismantled and fixed myself. Yay! I fixed it and now I don’t need to buy a new soap dispenser. Oh and by the way, I didn’t buy these two. My husband won them in a contest. I wouldn’t let him buy these at $40 each!

Admittedly my husband is usually the one who goes around fixing things. He’s pretty successful at it too! This time though he couldn’t figure out how to fix it and was ready to buy a new soap dispenser. I wasn’t ready to chuck the $40 dispenser though so I attempted to fix it too. Luckily it works now.

Not everything can be fixed though and it’s sad when I have to toss things. We usually try our best to make sure we buy items that last as long as possible.

Do the research and buy a good brand that’s higher quality
Our go to brand for house items is usually SimpleHuman. Their products are pricey but they are made to last. They also have warranties and make good on those warranties if you are diligent! In fact they even gave us a new soap dispenser even though it was just past the warranty period. They have tons of good reviews on Amazon too. We have a shower caddy, dish rack, two automatic soap dispensers, sink caddy, and two trash cans. It’s stayed with us through 2 moves and is lasting a lot longer than other products we had before.

The first thing we do before buying something is look at reviews about the product. If a product has absolutely no reviews most likely we’re not buying it. Our only exception is if it’s a really good discounted price and the previous model had great reviews.

Treat things like new
While cleaning out my kitchen I found an old George Foreman grill! Even though it was ten years old I kept such good care of it that it was still very clean and worked. I used to move around a lot and I always kept it packed away in the original box to keep it safe. I donated it in the hopes that someone else will have a use for it. For everything I own I try my best to take care of it to keep it as like new as possible. That means cleaning it and running maintenance when needed. The easiest way to throw away money is to not take care of things and let them break because of that.

Don’t toss it unless it’s really broken
I figure that it’s already broken so why not tinker with it a little to see if I can fix it? The worst that can happen is that it can stay broken. Our printer went on the fritz not too long ago and I was able to fix it enough to get it to hang on for a little longer. Lost the fight on that one though and ended up having to buy a new one. It was about 6 years old though so we were able to get more than our money’s worth. If I can actually get something working again it’s a great feeling to know I was able to fix it! There might be cursing involved before I get there but then I also save money in the end.

Toss it in the trash if it’s the last option
Goodwill takes all types of electronics and tries to fix them to sell them in their stores. Even though I couldn’t fix my printer, I donated it there just in case somewhere there can. If they can’t fix it then they make sure it is recycled. For other items I see if its perhaps recyclable.

For a little longer, or perhaps a lot longer, I get to enjoy my automatic soap dispenser. Pretty handy for when both my hands are dirty. It was a pretty easy fix too so if it malfunctions again I know what to do. The best part? I get to keep my mula.

Are you the type of person to try to fix something broken?

New Kitchen, Sad Sad Bank Account

Photo Credit: Naralna via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Naralna via Compfight cc

Woohoo!!!! It’s an amazing feeling to finally cook a full homemade meal in my brand new kitchen! It’s been a long last month as things seemed to slowly make progress, but finally it was done! Then of course…we realized we had to clean the whole thing and put everything back together. Including most of the entire house of course since we had to move so many things around and there was that lovely construction dust that just gets everywhere. So thus it took us another week to put the kitchen back together and we’re still cleaning up the house!

It’s extremely satisfying being in my kitchen for sure now! We saved up for a long time for it, then sat on the decision to renovate. It’s a bit hard after amassing money to just spend it. But hey what’s money for than to make you happy in the end right? As long as you live within your means of course! It’s our last major renovation for a very long time so whoosh! Just gotta deal with minor house repairs and cosmetic updates. Fingers crossed!

The best part about this renovation is that I have so much space to put everything! We have quite a few empty drawers and cabinets and it feels good knowing that. We even spaced out everything nicely and didn’t cram as much as possible into all the spaces we had. Now the challenge for us is to resist buying a ton of new stuff to fill that space.

Looking at this entirely objectively though our old kitchen really needed upgrading but wasn’t in disrepair technically. The placement of the oven across the fridge wasn’t ideal for cooking and for safety since it’s right next to the doorway. Since we’re planning on kids one day then that’s not safe at all since they could run right into a hot oven door pretty quickly. The dishwasher was old and not that usable since it was 5 feet away and we moved it where it should be. Other than that some of the drawers were falling apart. So we could’ve saved our money and not done anything if we were willing to live with those things.

On the real estate side we won’t know if it boosted the value of our home unless we sell it. This won’t be for quite a while but research says that a kitchen renovation is a sure way to make your home have a higher value.

From an emotional and personal point of view heck yes it was worth it! My husband and I love to cook and having a nice updated kitchen is one thing we’ve never had before. We had some really old appliances before and a dishwasher that was so old and far away from the sink we couldn’t use it. For the two of us we definitely spend so much time in there that we will be making good use of it.

How important is the kitchen to you?

 

Pack Rat Mentality

Photo Credit: _venusinfurs_ via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: _venusinfurs_ via Compfight cc

Before our kitchen renovation started we of course had to empty out everything and pack it up into boxes. Our whole house has been upended and is pretty crazy right now with kitchen stuff everywhere! Who knew we had so much stuff? We went from cabinet to cabinet unearthing more and more and more items! We were astonished to realize that many things we thought we has thrown or donated were still lurking in the lesser used cabinets. We gave away a few boxes for donation but I think we might try to pare it down some more.

For two people we had an amazing amount of well…stuff. A lot that we weren’t using very much at all or were keeping just in case we needed it. We found a George Foreman grill that was so old the grill plates aren’t removable. The newer ones all have removable grill plated for easier cleaning. Mine was about 10 years old or more. A little bit of an emotional attachment since that’s what I used almost every day during college when I didn’t have a kitchen.

Keeping the old with the new
Oh darn, I do believe we fell into the pack rat mentality that frugal people generally end up falling into! Even if we get something new we tend to keep the old item “just in case” we need it. We don’t have a ton of those but we were definitely never going to use the Foreman grill anymore. For our wedding we received a ton of nice gifts and we weren’t entirely successful in being minimal. The most frugal people I know (my mom and dad) do exactly the same thing. Even if someone gives them a gift that’s better than they currently have they’ll still keep the old item. My parent’s home is filled with many duplicates of the same item. They probably have the inventory of a small store.

Comfort in knowing you have plenty
There’s something about having multiples of an item that’s pretty comforting since you know you won’t run out. I’m happiest when we have a full pantry and the fridge is full! Yet it doesn’t happen often since two people can’t eat that much food and it would all go waste. Of course the food part also plays into how much I like eating…but that’s another subject entirely. I’m thinking this has to do with an age old habit of building up a stash when there’s plenty and then being able to weather out tough times. It’s an ingrained instinct that we’ve converted to non-food items when we don’t need to worry about where our next meal is coming from.

Filling empty spaces
After living in college dorms and small apartments this house is the most space I’ve had ever! Where there is space then it tends to get filled somehow. We resist buying new items as much as possible but hey we’re only human. Those empty spaces are just crying out to be filled! The fun thing is that even though we donated a lot before the reno, it’s going to be very very hard to not buy a ton of new stuff after the kitchen is finished. We’re going to have even more cabinet space than before! This will be a pretty big test of will power…

 

It’s going to be an amazing feeling when we finally get our house back to normal. We’re definitely going to have a lot of empty cabinet space that we’ll have to try to resist filling right away. Over time we’ll get gifts and buy some items for sure anyhow. Not looking forward to the cleaning part though.

Are you the type of person who tends to keep all your old stuff even when you get something new? How full are your closets and cabinets?