Tuesday, August 13, 2013

You Really Need A Haircut!

Last summer when I knew I was having a son, I decided that I should learn how to cut men's hair since there would soon be two in the house with ever-growing hair.

My husband was ready as my first test subject while I watched a couple YouTube videos, grabbed scissors and a buzzer and went to work!  I didn't do so bad!

Now I've been cutting his hair for over a year.  A cheap haircut costs around $15 total for men, so by my estimate for a monthly haircut by 'Salon Stephanie' has saved us $180 this year.  Once Walter starts needing haircuts that savings will double!

Packing a lunch

Packing a lunch is truly a gold mine of savings.  My husband takes a packed lunch to work every day (and luckily he prefers leftovers from last nights dinner!).  I pack it the night before after dinner, rounding up whatever is left over and adding to it with sliced fruit, an occasional V8, veggies and string cheese.  Bringing a lunch instead of buying a lunch can save $5-7 dollars a day!  For one person and on the low end that's $25 per work week.  Not only is it cheaper than your bought lunch... It is also generally healthier!  

Here's some examples of packed lunches that I put together for Jon:

Mini meatballs and red sauce,noodles
Parmesan in a separate bag
Sliced up orange and yellow peppers
Granola bar

Taco bowl (leftover taco meat, rice with tomato and jalapeños, black beans)
Peeled orange slices
String cheese or Babybel
Carrot sticks

Bavarian sausages and sauerkraut with mustard
Carrot sticks
Slices of Swiss cheese
Yogurt with fruit

Try a week of packing your lunch the night before and see how it works for you!  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cheap Friends Are Priceless!

Me & my son Walter
A big part of whipping myself into financial shape has been getting inspired by others who encourage my savings and inspire my financial goals.  With the highest respect, I call these "Cheap Friends" and I find them priceless!  I want to encourage you to seek out frugal friends around you, family, people, blogs and others to help you as well.

Cheap and frugal friends will not pressure you into spending and they have habits that will help you save!  They do things like pack lunches and snacks instead of going out, they use coupons, they enjoy free activities, they love DIY, they delight in thriftiness, and are not afraid to seek out the Goodwill or Salvation Army for a bargain.  Thrifty and frugal friends don't have to be poor and typically aren't - because they are saving up!

Here's a bit about my inspirational frugal friends...

In college, I was going into debt (like most college students) and my friend and college roommate Kim helped me grasp financial reality and stop the spending cycle.  She is a naturally frugal person but the thing that inspired me the most is that she finds joy in savings!  What a concept!  Many folks find saving money as a chore or punishment, but when Kim can save a couple dollars, she delights in it!  Her excitement over saving made saving not 'the necessary evil' but something that I was doing with my friend....something fun.  She loves using Groupons, coupons and finding deals wherever she goes!  She also saw long-term financial goals at a time when most college students were thinking about beer money and got me thinking about my financial future.  She encourages financial stability and freedom and introduced me to a book called "Automatic Millionaire" that changed my financial future all-together.  I highly recommend this book.

Hanging with Walt, Amy & Kaelyn
My friend Amy loves DIY.  She is crafty, creative and delights in her DIY-ness - which makes her an inspiration in frugality.  She is literally like a a walking Pinterest Board.  Her Christmas gifts were all homemade items like infused Raspberry Liquor, Body Sugar Scrub, Cookie Mixes and more!  She handmade all her daughter's birthday decorations and her party looked fabulous.  When our son Walter was born she sent us home with frozen homemade meals, like potpies, rosemary chicken and other things that make you feel like you're at home.  She is a professional homemaker and that's that.  Lately we have been swapping "meal plans" for cooking at home, in an effort to ease the monotony of planning out weekly meals.

Growing up my Mom was a stay-at-home-mom with me and my sister.  My Mom delighted in saving money and taught me and my sister to use coupons, be resourceful and took us to garage sales.  I still get excited at the prospect of garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores!  I have a lot more to say about my Mom and what she taught us financially, but I'll get to that later.

After moving to DC and trying to find new friends, I found a group of new moms that meet at our local hospital.  Many of them are stay-at-home Moms in the DC area which means thriftiness is a must.  I have been re-encouraged by this group that has weekly meet-ups at the hospital and spin-off groups at others' homes where we bring 'pot-luck' style lunches and let our kids play for hours together.  Other times we meet at shopping malls or parks and pack lunches and snacks to eat.  We have also forged bonds by frequenting the local thrift shops and have delighted in finding deals for our kiddos!  (A wooden play kitchen for $8, a lot of 33 Fisher-Price Little People for $6, Janie and Jack clothes for .99 cents each, etc)  Now hanging with friends and doing cheap activities, Walter and I can go a whole week on less than $20 spending money!

FACT:  My husband Jon is a natural with money.  You know the line, "Anything you can buy, I can buy cheaper!  I can buy anything cheaper than you!" from Annie Get Your Gun???  That is Jon - he can buy anything cheaper than most anyone and I am blessed to be married to someone so responsible with money.  He scours the internet for deals, sets price alerts on Amazon items, reads frugal blogs like Fatwallet.com and SlickDeals.com to get the up to date financial advice from others like him on the internet-world.  He can negotiate anything and will talk prices down, even at places like BestBuy.  He helped me stop spending endlessly and he had us sit down and talk about finances together before we got married.  The first year we were married, we got rid of all credit card debt and started working towards paying off student loans and saving for retirement.  We approach life with combined accounts and a open financial relationship with goals that we are mutually striving towards.

So, even if you find saving hard or difficult or even painful, having a friend who can encourage your cheapness and frugality (I use these terms positively!) can make a significant difference to your bank account.  Seek out those cheap friends who will support your financial goals.  After all, who needs to keep up with the Jones's?  I'd prefer to run with the Durant's, Zachrich's, Kocek's and Reed's!

It was about time for the revival of my "Fru-Girl" blog!  :-)  Thanks for reading!