Monday, August 15, 2011

Five daily frugals

I've been trying to do several frugal things each day to keep on track. It's sometimes easier to make a goal of five choices a day that are frugal, and then enjoy trying to meet that goal.

Admittedly, that's not as efficient as sticking to a budget, something I've slacked on this summer. That said, it was a fun, frugal weekend. We took our big quilts to the laundry mat because when we bought our washer I asked the guy for any advice on getting it to last as long as possible. He told me keep the lint traps clean and don't wash big blankets. He said that shaking thing you sometimes get when the blanket gets to one side is very, very hard on the machine.

We also biked to the beach. We live too far out to bike to most places so we drive part of the way, park, then bike part of the way.

Kirk had wanted swim flipper and goggles. We stopped at a thrift shop on our way to the beach and lucked out finding flippers that fit for $1.

We spent Sunday at a local park playing baseball, soccer, Frisbee and even a bit of tennis (almost all equipment gotten at garage sales through the years), so fun and frugal.

Cooked a big batch of pasta, then made three meals for the week ahead - mushroom, spinach pasta; ricotta lasagna pasta, cold veggie pasta.

Happy frugaling;-)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Frugal decisions -

Frugal Decision #1

Two months past the one year warranty (NOT frugal), I make a long overdue call to the appliance store to say our "new" dryer isn't drying very well. She suggests prior to sending a technician for an $85 trip charge, I disconnect the dryer from the vent system and try one load of towels. So I do, and sure enough, rather than needing two and a half full cycles, all six towels are dry in 50 minutes. So I look into the vent system as best I can, where it curves into the wall, stick my hand in and feel a LOT of lint.

Next I look for vent cleaning services, and up pops "Vent cleaning scams", so I check the local listings for good reviews and find one that got 28 positive reviews and no negative. They charge $179 to clean the dryer vents, sounds pricey, but they got good reviews, and my dryer vent goes all the way under the family room, has three 90 degree angles, is almost 20 feet long and I know hasn't been cleaned in at least the decade we've lived here.

The tech comes and can't get his "magic wand" through. He has to take apart each piece of the pipe work (ripping off the duct tape), and shows me it's so clogged with wet lint (stinky too) that barely a pen could fit through the middle. He completely empties the entire line - almost three grocery bags full of wet lint, puts it all back together and my dryer is working great. Lesson learned, and I think, money well spent as I wouldn't have been comfortable taking apart all that tubing.

Frugal Decision #2 -

Kai's training wheels, which I'd gotten for 50 cents at a garage sale, finally gave way. We bought another set for $10, and they lasted all of about a week before bending when he hit a curb. A person recommended a bike shop that I think of as pretty expensive (think Trek bikes) to see if they could help. I went and asked the tech and he said they had a pair they'd taken off another bike that I could have for free and would just have to pay the $10 installation fee. Happy to do so, this new pair, as he showed me, was almost three times thicker metal than the first.

Frugal Decision #3 -

We're biking almost everywhere. Cheaper than gas, better for the environment, and makes for healthier mom and kids;-).

Frugal Decision #4 -

Working in spare moments, I'm finally making some progress on the book. Today I set the timer for one hour and told Kai if he played quietly for an hour, we would go to the lake. He found some dinosaurs and I was able to get in some writing and sketch out a scene. So happy all around.

Frugal Decision #5 -

Staying at home a lot more this summer and really enjoying our pretty home, yard, and neighborhood as well as the local parks, beaches, lakes, and neighborhoods.

Frugal Decision #6 -

Having too many times missed opportunities to get something I needed because I forgot, I now keep a list in the car of stuff we need, and errands that need to be run. I used to keep this list on the refrigerator door (I still keep the grocery list posted so the minute the butter is out it's on the list) but I find glancing at is as I'm about to run to the library and see "need nails for picture for Living Room" is all I need to be way more efficient.

Good wishes!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A fun day, but a troubling sight at night.

Today was a wonderful day. We got the good news the window shouldn't have broken due to a Pokeball and four- year- old and probably had a stress fracture or some fault and will be replaced just for the $60 installation costs. We also biked downtown to meet Greg (Kirk is visiting the grandparents) for dinner and got to see a free water ski show (they were practicing) and stopped to watch a Frisbee tag game.

But while we were headed back, a mini-van jerked to stop right in front of the porta-potty and a woman started to get out, then the car jerked forward again and I was a afraid she would get hurt. Then when she got out she clearly had a big black eye - all red and puffy. She went to the port-a-potty while the guy got out of the van and waited by the side. I didn't know what to do as I had Kai and didn't want to "get involved" and wished as they drove away I would have written down the license plate so I could at least have called 911. So tonight, please send up a little prayer for a woman in a situation that didn't look good and for every person everywhere that is in a troubled situation. Thanks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Frugal steps forward and back.

With great pride I had intended to write of my frugal bike basket and fixing the drain without a single dollar to a plumber nor environmental impact of Liquid Plumber. I had seen a bike basket for $22 at Walmart, but looking at it, it looked a bit flimsy and it occurred to me that the maybe I could make my own. So I found a white wicker basket for $1.20 at a thrift store, two black zip strips that I had left over from a fencing job, and had a "new" bike basket that's worked great.

Then we had a drain that wasn't working for awhile. I figured it was just clogged and was loathe to pour nasty chemicals down the drain, so I used wire cutters a wire hanger and managed to pull out the gunk - icky, icky, icky, and now have a perfectly fine drain.

But then today, Kai was throwing a small plastic Pokemon ball and hit our family room window with a force surprising for a four year old and cracked the big picture window. I have to believe the earlier savings will be offset by window repair costs;-).

But each time I find a way to save or be creative, I still get that thrill. Good wishes. Eileen