Gaming frugality – month one

Early in April, I posted about the serious discussion my husband and I had about being seriously frugal to meet our financial goals sooner rather than later. So I thought I’d report on how we’re doing after a month. The stated goals and their follow up:

  • give up beer until summer – Update: our fridge and cupboard are now beer-less, after drinking the remaining Stella, Hoegaarden, and Third Street Brewing company remainders we had. I believe we did buy one six-pack right before my birthday at the end of the month, so on this count, we basically failed. New goal: no beer until the 4th of July.
  • one fancy coffee drink per month  – Update: Total and utter failure because of our vacation to Seattle, world capitol of coffee and fancy coffee drinks (which were part of the vacation budget), plus BOGO deals at our favorite local coffee shops. New goal: we can get fancy coffees if there is a BOGO, but only if we have met the previous month’s gym goal of 12 visits.
  • both will bike/walk to work once it is warmer than 30 degrees when we leave – Update: holy cow, winter lasted forever, so this is only a half failure. When we returned from Seattle, I felt really stupid driving my car less than a mile to work, so I started walking. Husband is still driving since he gets done with work at crazy late times (3:30am sometimes!). I drove one day last week since I needed my car for work, and I drove today because I woke up late. New goal: pump up my bike tires and continue walking or biking every day that I can. Encourage husband to bike when he doesn’t work late.
  • only eat out together for dates, not as a convenience – do more meal planning – Update: we actually did plan a few meals in the past few weeks, and we bought easy things to make so we have been doing pretty well on this count. I am counting this as a win. New goal: just keep on planning a couple meals per week and have cheap/easy things so we are not tempted to eat out.
  • husband will not get professional massages, and will visit the chiropractor only once per month, as needed – Update: total win, no massages, and only one chiro visit in April. New goal: not needed.
  • no new clothes unless essential for work – Update: I did buy one purse before our vacation. New goal: use Pinterest for ideas to use pieces I already own.
  • no new makeup, nail polish, other frivolous lady temptations for me – Update: I bought one new nail polish, and counted it as a birthday present. New goal: avoid these aisles altogether.
  • I will eliminate lady temptations by only going to Target for groceries – Update: total win, have gone to Target only for groceries. New goal: not needed.
  • Buy gifts primarily with credit card points for Amazon.com – haven’t needed to buy any gifts, but we do have points to use for this. New goal: not needed.

Overall, not great, but not terrible.

Vacation on a budget

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We recently returned from a five day trip to Seattle with my parents. My dad had a conference to attend, and so my husband and I kept my mom company and also got to sneak in a short visit with my husband’s father who visited from British Columbia since it was a short trip for him to come see us while we were there. We had a wonderful time, and we actually spent less than we expected to. I had a rough daily budget in mind for food, bus fares, entry fees, etc., and we went over it a couple times but then came in under budget other times, so it evened out. Even though we stayed at a fairly upscale hotel close to my dad’s conference location, it was not an expensive trip, and that was due to a few factors:

  • hotel location was close to the monorail, light rail, and a major bus pick-up area – took light rail to hotel and back to airport
  • hotel location made many destinations walkable, even for my mom – within 1 mile
  • close proximity to a major shopping/dining area and small plates at hotel restaurant made for some amazingly delicious $20-$30 dinners
  • hotel had refrigerators so we bought milk and cereal at the nearby IGA and had hotel coffee each morning
  • pre-purchased discounted tickets online for Seattle Center’s Space Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass with hotel business center
  • pre-purchased discounted tickets online for the Experience Music Project (EMP) and Cinerama showing of ‘Iron Man 3’ in 3D with hotel business center
  • took lots of pictures and saved receipts, ticket stubs, wrist bands, and other ephemera to put into a Smash Book (on-the-go scrapbook) instead of buying lots of souvenirs – we came home with an almost-complete book and a great record of what we did each day
  • what souvenirs we did buy, we kept to useful or locally-made items – two t-shirts for my husband, one from a small art fair, where I also got a turquoise necklace

Also, I was relieved and pleased how easy and fun it was to travel with my parents, and my husband agreed. We hope to do some more traveling with my mother, specifically to France, because my father is not interested in travel outside of the US. This made us both excited for planning a few more trips with her.