Category Archives: Frugal Living

Made My Own Retractable Dog Leash with Light and Bag Dispenser

gimlileash

(Gimli wanted to show you his favorite mouse next to his new leash)

We are trying to save money to buy and house but I really wanted to buy the below dog leash off of Amazon because having a small puppy that needs to go out all the time was a lot of work. I was always trying to remember his leash, bags, flashlight and pepper spray, oh and the puppy! I thought having the items combined would be less to gather up while the poor puppy waits by the door having to pee.

It seemed like a lot of money to spend on a leash when we already owned flash lights and doggy bag holders. I ended up finding the above dog leash for $2 at the thrift shop and I taped on a small but bright, free, promotional flashlight. I tied a small cloth makeup packaging bag (also free) to the handle which has the added bonus of holding regular grocery bags instead of the rolled ones you have to buy and voila we had our dog leash! I love these kinds of frugal and practical solutions!

A Very Simple and Frugal Christmas 2016

grinch

We had a very simple and frugal Christmas this year. We thought we were doing to be out of town for Christmas day so I kept the decorating simple with our reusable tree and a few favorite decorations. This has the added bonus of protecting most of our holiday decorations from the puppy. The tree didn’t fare so well as you can see from the above picture. This was our first Christmas with just the two of us and the fur babies and it was also our 8th Christmas together.

On Christmas day, we slept in (a gift in itself because we are usually up so early) and then we opened presents. Many of our gifts to each other were practical and fun including a Kindle (on sale for $33 on Cyber Monday), a keyboard, work shoes, a scarf, new stove plates, a new phone, sewing supplies and clothes. We watched a lot of Project Runway on TV and went to a beautiful local park with the puppy where we saw a fantastic rainbow. Not traveling this year saved us a lot of money so we had a lovely steak dinner with asparagus and loaded potatoes (from ALDI). Overall, a really great day!

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Here are some things we did to make the holiday more frugal:

– Not buying any decorations! We already have too many. If I want any more I will sew them on my sewing machine

– Not buying any wrapping paper. We have some remaining gift bags from last year and I bought a red lined curtain at the thrift store for a few dollars that I have been using to make gift bags.

– Not buying many gifts in general. My sister and her husband are due to have a baby any day now and they are not exchanging gifts this year which makes life very easy for us. And we have given them lots of baby stuff already and will be sending more too J

– We also usually have a $10 gift limit in my family so the family members that I am giving gifts to won’t be expensive.

– I bought Shugar Soap at Dollar Tree (but they sell for a lot more online) for my coworkers and printed little Thank You notes. They cost $1 and smell absolutely amazing (You seriously want to take a bite). They are also entirely vegetable based, chemical free and made in the USA. I missed some of my coworkers who had already gone on break so we ended up with some extras to give to someone else or use in our home.

– I will be making some gifts and I have already bought the sewing supplies I need. Although my sewing skills aren’t up to making all gifts yet there will be a few I will sew. I doubt I will ever do 100% handmade gifts because it’s not always what everyone wants or needs, it’s not always cheaper, and it doesn’t ever save time but I will enjoy making a few that I believe my loved ones will want.

– Some of our gifts are from thrift shops. We don’t require that they are always new.

– We are Amazon Prime experts. When it’s cheaper online with free 2 day shipping. It’s a win, win.

– I got my mother a Kindle Fire on sale on Cyber Monday for $33 and we already exchanged gifts with her since she will be out of state for the birth of my nephew.

– Playing Christmas music and watching Christmas TV is free.

– I had some gift cards that I had never used and I used them to save money this December and to purchase gifts.

– We own a tree that came with lights and we will use it again this year. Our puppy decided to eat the light cord off but maybe we can fix it. If not, we will add lights we already own for free.

– I bought the puppy toys at Dollar Tree last month when I found some good ones and frankly he already has too many. My dad’s dog will get a bag of milk bones. We have a box and our puppy doesn’t like them.

– Make all of the returns that have been sitting around the house waiting for me to find the time to return them. I will use the store credit to save money and/or make gifts.

gimlilights

While you are at it you might want to check out some other frugal Christmas posts including:

30 Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season

Frugal Christmas Shopping

Ugly Christmas Sweaters!

2011 Christmas In Review

Our Frugal Christmas

8-21-16 A Few Frugal Things

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(Pickles Playing in Our New Trash Can)

A Few Frugal Things-

– I was really sad that I had to return my iPad to a college campus that I will no longer be teaching at. Then my Dad and Aunt decided that they should give me an older one that wasn’t being used. They even gave me chargers, cases and everything. It was so kind of them.

– It’s back to school season and as much as I want to buy some school supplies (I challenge you to find an educator that doesn’t love new school supplies) I haven’t bought any yet. I am trying to wait and see what the schools will supply and I still have a lot that are still good from previous years. That’s not to say I won’t pick up a few things on clearance with my mom’s employee discount.

– Finally called about a cosmetic factory recall on my SUV and it will be 100% free to fix but there is a YEAR wait!

– Went grocery shopping at ALDI and spent less than expected which is always a win

– I gave myself a French pedicure despite wanting to pay to have one done but the $45 savings made it worth it

– Aunt took us out to brunch and takeout for dinner which was very nice

– Went to a cheaper pet store and bought 2 months of snake food for cheap, it’s close to my father’s house so I will have to try to get him to go with me

– Found a cheaper version of the expensive eye shadow my sister had given me that I used up.

– My sister bought some face makeup for me at the makeup store where she works when it was not only B1G1 free but using her discount and now I have it for the entire year.

– I have had good luck thrifting lately for a few things I needed including black heels to teach in (I wear them out quickly), a dress to wear at a baby shower, shirts/tops for teaching and everyday life, William Sonoma cloth napkins (these don’t attract lint so I LOVE them).

– I have been donating stuff we no longer want (and I can’t sell on eBay) to the thrift store and I found a few more things but I will wait until I am already shopping there to drop them off

– I cleaned the house and I love that all I use is rubbing alcohol, my floor steamer that only uses water and homemade laundry detergent for wash. There are times that living chemical free saves us money.

– I continue to relist my current eBay listings and will list even more soon, I like making extra income here and there on eBay

– Next week I go back full time at the College I have been hired at full time, I’ve already been teaching there for a year as a contract employee. I’m so excited to only be teaching at one school and I receive free Dental and Health Insurance (I currently pay about $300 a month just for health) and cheap vision insurance. I have been waiting for my new insurance to kick in before I get new glasses, go to the dermatologist and get my teeth cleaned. This will be a huge savings!

– My discount Amazon Prime subscription is ending soon and I’m going to try not renewing it to save money. I will try to buy a few discount things that I need to take advantage of the free 2day shipping before it ends. I may renew later but I want to see how long it is before I need/want to use it.

– Hung some rugs to dry even though I really wanted to throw them in the dryer

– Amy of the Tightwad Gazette would tell you that saving money is often more about what you don’t do than what you do. Well this weekend we didn’t leave the house and we had fun at home. Not leaving the house is often the best way to save money!

– We also didn’t adopt a dog this weekend. We really thought about it but the dog we were considering was already adopted. Maybe it’s a sign.

– As always we have been enjoying watching TV at home. My father is kind enough to share his cable login with us so we can watch cable on out home devices through the different channel Aps for free.

– Using my sewing machine I repaired a comforter, underwear, a basket liner and a throw pillow

– I exchanged $10 worth of stuff at Dollar Tree. I was happy to get it out of my car where it had been sitting since the last time I forgot to return it.

– I had to mail something to my sister and went ahead and packed up a box for her that included an entire target sheet set in the color she wanted, an IKEA decoration, some pregnancy books etc. We used a flat rate box so it wasn’t expensive to mail.

– B and I cut each other’s hair today.

– I’m almost 9 months into my year of not buying any brand new clothing (with a few exceptions like underwear) and it’s so easy, I can hardly call it a challenge

 

Not so Frugal Things-

– Our AC completely broke in the scalding Florida summer heat and while our landlord paid for the repair and it was done swiftly we still ended up with a $50 higher electric bill and this is already the highest electric bills we will have all year. I know a long time ago people lived in Florida without AC but our homes are no longer designed to take advantages of breezes and the location of the sun so I feel no guilt in using the AC modestly.

– Had a great time when my aunt visited and we went to a really cool store Old Time Pottery which I had never been to before. We have lived in our townhome for almost two years and it’s the first time I shopped for brand new things for the house and I got a few things like a shower curtain, step to open trash can, hand towels and door mat that I hadn’t had any luck buying at our local thrift shops for the past two years. It’s not frugal to shop but after 2 years of not finding those items used, this store had them new for great prices.

– I am ashamed to admit that we threw away an unopened package of salad, an unopened package of broccoli shred, a whole bag of sweet potatoes that was bad when I bought them, some guacamole that went bad and some leftover chicken. None of this food was still edible so it had to be thrown out but this is a huge amount of food waste for us. We are trying to eat more fresh food but the downside is we sometimes think it will be good for longer than it actually is. I hate wasting food.

 

Frugal Goals-

– Pack lunches when I go back to work full time next week instead of buying unhealthy food

– Avoid stores and online shopping whenever possible (I’m not a huge shopper but I find the best way to save money is to avoid the stores altogether)

– Take advantage of my new free health insurance and dental and cheap vision insurance

– Be more careful about the AC usage, although because we will both be gone at the hottest times of the day now it will certainly lower our AC bill.

– Stop looking at dogs to adopt for a while, maybe we will go back to looking when the semester is underway and we have an established schedule

– Take an edible plants class

Austin Goodwill Outlet Haul

This past Saturday I was spending time with a friend who had mentioned she had started selling some old jewelry on the site Postmark and was interested in eBay too. I was telling her my experience about the Goodwill outlet in Austin, Tx. We were a short drive away so we decided to go. I had only ever been to the Goodwill outlet on one other Saturday night. This time it was super busy and hot. We did still manage to find some good stuff. Here is what I found:image6-14

I plan on selling this brand new Stephen Colbert book on eBay and keeping the Jim Gaffigan book. Ive already started reading it! Books were 4 for $1.

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I picked up this Little Golden Books out of curiosity. Turns out they really don’t sell for much on eBay but i might just list them anyways!

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A story book from 1981.

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We found so many old interesting books this visit. I believe the maroon book is a 1961 reprint from 1879, the blue book is the complete collection of William Shakepshere published in 1926, and the small brown book is a shorthand dictionary from around 1916!

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I found both these mugs to sell on eBay. If I sell just on I will make enough money to pay for my whole shopping trip!

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Lastly, I found four small like new Ikea plates I was going to buy a few months back, but for some reason decided against. I found two pyrex bowls, one anchor bowl, and a vintage Welchs Looney Tunes jar from the 80’s.

I also found a Maxi dress from Charminig Charlie (at least $40 in store), a pair of Jessica Simpson maternity shorts (at least $34 at Motherhood Maternity), and a cute tank top. My total was $10!

How to Pack for a Week In a Free Personal Item Bag – Even with Allegiant and Spirit Airlines Restrictions

How to Pack for a Week in a Personal Item Bag

By NEY

When my sister Candy (one of the authors of this blog) and her husband moved to Texas for his job I knew that airports and flying were going to become a way of life since there was no way I could go more than a few months without seeing my sister!

We are really fortunate that we live between two airports: a major airport and a smaller more local airport. We have a lot of flights to choose from when flying between Florida and Texas. However, recently the least expensive choice has been flying in and out of the smaller, local airport on the discount airline Allegiant. I know that there are many people who hate this airline but I have mostly had positive experiences with them but you do have to expect that you will probably be leaving and arriving somewhat late. Usually the delays are under an hour and they are frequently $200 less than the next cheapest flight. In addition, they are the only option when flying our of the small airport and you don’t have to arrive very early if you aren’t checking a bag.

All of this being said, the only bag you are allowed to bring on this airline included for free in the price of your ticket is a personal item bag.

From their site

“Every passenger can bring One Free Personal Item

Your Personal Item (like a purse, briefcase, or a small backpack) must be stored completely underneath the seat in front of you.

Maximum dimensions are 7 x 15 x 16 inches (17.8 x 38.1 x 40.6 centimeters)”

personal-item

While I was actually on the plane I measured with a pocket tape measure and the under seat dimensions where the bag has to fit is actually closer to 15 x 10 x 16 so if you are a little over 7 inches you should be okay. They don’t usually check the personal items that closely. I’ve actually never had one checked at all but I have seen people charged right before getting on the plane when their bags were obviously too big and then it costs $50 per carry on bag.

It costs $30-$50 to add a carry on or checked baggage prior to a flight. I would be lying if I said I didn’t see this as a money saving challenge.

I wanted to make sure that this process is as easy as possible because I fly frequently and don’t like feeling like I’m dragging around a ball and chain while waiting at the airport.

The difficult part way trying to find a bag that would fit as closely into the maximum dimensions as possible so that I could bring as much stuff as possible in what would ultimately still be a very small bag. For me it was an easy decision to purchase a rolling laptop bag because being able to roll a bag is much easier on my back.

I ended up purchasing the above Protege 16″ Rolling Briefcase with Laptop Section, Black bag from Walmart (I try not to shop at Walmart but I needed it right away) for about $35. You can find it here or in a store. The dimensions are 16 x 8 x 13. I know that this is technically 1 inch over the requirement for Allegiant but if I don’t stuff it until it bursts it can still measure at 7 inches. I’ve boarded 5 flights with this strategy and I’ve never had a problem. No one has even looked twice at my bag. 

If you are looking for a bag, I also think this very similar $40 Targus bag from Amazon Prime would work.

To start with I will show you what I wore to the airport in the following picture.

What I Wore

I wore-

  • A tank top
  • A Lose T shirt
  • A Tight T shirt
  • A comfortable jacket with huge interior pockets
  • Skinny Jeans
  • A pair of sneakers

This is what I packed in the bag-

What I Packed

In the laptop bag I packed-

  • A shirt
  • A pair of shorts
  • A pair of PJ shorts
  • A swimsuit
  • A Full length Maxi Skirt
  • Flipflops
  • A pair of High Heels
  • My laptop and mouse and charger
  • My iPad and charger
  • My Kindle
  • My phone and charger
  • My Makeup Bag and Brushes
  • A Small purse
  • Another Shirt and Dress that were gifts
  • Underwear
  • A small clear plastic case I used as a toiletry bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses
  • Dramamine and Ibuprofen
  • Headphones
  • A wallet
  • A travel pillow
  • A protein bar as a snack for the plane
    • since water is not provided on the flight unless you pay for it
  • My Hydroflask aka refillable water bottle
    • since water is not provided on the flight unless you pay for it
  • The Cat is only in the picture. I doubt she would have made it through TSA!

Between what I was wearing and what I packed I ended up with 5 tops, three bottoms and a dress which is more than enough clothing for a week long trip.

I measured and remeasured the bag before and after I packed and it still fit into the strict Allegiant Airlines Personal Item Guidelines. My bag wasn’t stuffed when I was done and I could have fit more inside.

It made a huge difference that I put my clothes into gallon freezer bags and removed all of the air inside the bags and that save a ton of space. This gallon bag strategy worked out much better than using my packing cubes that I originally thought I would use.

I have learned my lesson and I also usually pack the above duffel bag from IKEA that is meant to fold up in a square that is almost flat. That way if I decide to go shopping while on vacation and bring a bigger bag home then I don’t have to buy one. It also costs significantly less to bring an addition bag home than it would to bring one round trip.

I also am no longer as worried about not stuffing my bag to the limits. I know that my bag will fit the dimensions under the seat and I put as much as it can carry into it.

 

Here is the breakdown of my strategy:

1. Find out the dimensions of the personal item you are allowed to bring for free and purchase a bag that is as close to the maximum dimensions as possible without going over. I highly recommend a rolling bag because it is easier to maneuver through the airport and then you don’t have to worry about the weight of your bag as there is no weight restriction on most airlines personal items.

2. Wear your bulkiest clothing items on the plane so that you don’t have to fit them in your bag. I always wear a couple of shirts, a jacket and my bulkiest shoes because I am usually cold anyways.

3. Wear a jacket with large pockets on the plane. This way you can put additional items in the pockets like snacks, your water bottle, etc. that would usually take up more space in your bag.

4. When packing choose clothing items that can be mixed and matched for different outfit combinations. I usually choose black basics so that they match with everything. I also bring clothes that can be dressed up or down. Look up the weather before you go so you know what you are most likely to need. I actually find that I usually bring more clothing than I need.

5. Put your clothes into gallon plastic bags and press on them to remove the air. This will condense the bulk of your clothing so you can pack more in a small space. I am amazed at how well this works. I tried using packing cubes but this works 10x better and they are cheaper. Don’t forget to pack a few extras in case they rip.

6. Make good use of your technology so that you can pack less stuff. My phone is my camera, guidebook, GPS, ticket etc. My kindle allows me to bring plenty of reading material on every trip instead of hard copy books. Remember that often pictures are the best souvenirs anyways!

7. Bring a water bottle like My Hydroflask (to fill once through security) and snacks for the plane so that you are not tempted to buy them during the flight and you aren’t starving when you get off the plane.

8. Pack a flat folding duffel bag in case you decide to bring more home than you brought with you. I enjoy thrift shopping in new places so I am often guilty of wanting to bring more home than I took with me. This way, I never have to buy a bag to take home. The above duffel bag from IKEA was a great buy and it’s cheaper when purchased directly from the store.
9. Measure and re-measure your bag once it is full to make sure that it fits the maximum dimensions. If you personal item bag is too large you can be charged $50 just to board the plane. I have never had this problem but I have seen angry people with their too large bags who have. You don’t want this to be you.

10. Put items you need to remove during security and on the plane in easy to reach places in your bag so you don’t have to pack and repack. This also ensures that you aren’t left searching through your bag at the last minute.

Taking one small bag means that I don’t have to arrive early to check a bag, I’m not juggling a bunch of luggage, I don’t bring more than I need, I’m not worried about dealing with the overhead bins and it overall streamlines the whole travel process.

Best wishes! Enjoy your flight and your trip! 🙂

6-16-16 A Few Frugal Things

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-The three toys above are the three our cat Pickles pulled out of her toy box and dragged into our room. She has way too many toys for one cat and yet of the three she chose none are actually cat toys. One was given to us and the other two were clearance Christmas ornaments. They are:

  • An alligator
  • A pink elephant
  • A coffee cup

-Taking a Frugal Trip to Texas. I’m flying a discount airline, received a $50 rebate for the flight, staying with my sister so no hotel costs or rental vehicles, and I’m packing all of my stuff in a personal item bag (more on how to do that will be posted soon).

– I made a huge pot of split pea soup (Mmmmmm my favorite!) using leftover ham my mom gave me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything besides the spices and ham so I had to buy carrots, an onion and the peas. Thankfully that only came to about $4 and B was given a gift card. We have soup for lunches and dinners for a week for FREE!

– Downloaded some free Kindle books to occupy me on my flight this week.

– My dad was given a free sewing machine for my sister, packed it up and wanted me to mail it to her in Texas. Instead I figured out how to take it on the plane as my mom’s personal item bag for free! I can only guess but I’m sure a sewing machine is expensive to mail and I feel more confident it won’t get damaged if I can deliver it directly.

– Got $200 worth of free Publix groceries thanks to 2 gift cards B was given for his Bday.

– I skipped the 50% off day at the thrift store today because I need to work since the Summer B semester starts on Tuesday and I fly home Sunday.

– I am now teaching a 4th summer class which is great because it’s only 6 weeks long and little additional planning mostly just more grading but nothing too bad. This will also raise my income for the year if when we start trying to buy a house.

– Did another sponsored Swagbucks post

6-15-16 A Few Frugal Things

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– I cut open our bottle of organic ALDI ketchup and got a huge amount of ketchup out of the bottle for the current meal we were having after I had been repeatedly assured it was “empty.” I try to always use up everything to the last drop and if you don’t do this you will be shocked at how much is left in “empty” product and food bottles.

– I used the above Betty Crocker double ended spatula that I love that can be found for $1 at Dollar Tree! I love it so much I own 2 and I think I’m going to buy one for everyone’s stocking this Christmas.

– I mailed out a couple of items I sold on eBay this week

– I resisted going to the thrift shop to look for other items to sell because I have some items here that haven’t been listed yet

– I ran on my thrift store bought treadmill at home for free exercise

– I’m watching free TV (We don’t have cable) on my Flatscreen TV from Goodwill

– I received a $50 rebate in the mail for a plane ticket I bought at the end of last year

– I don’t have to buy any groceries this month because B was given some Publix gift cards for his Bday

– I’m combined a work errand that was an hour away tomorrow with visiting my mom and going to some local thrift shops. Unfortunately, I had to drive an hour each way but I’m glad I can combine work with fun.

– I listed more items on eBay, I’m using my free listings and eBay is running a deal where they are capping their final value fees at $20 for the whole month so I would love to sell enough items to get over that amount

Dear Abby Weighs in on Shopping Sales for Gift Giving and Gift Exchanges

dearabby

I love Dear Abby! I have been reading her advice since I was a little girl. Today when I was reading her column she addressed something that my family has addressed but I always wondered about it.

If a gift exchange has a gift limit of $20 but you find an item on sale for $10 that was originally worth $10 then it is perfectly acceptable to buy the sale item and she calls it smart!

In my family we do a $10 gift exchange limit. However, getting items on sale, secondhand, free or bargains is considered part of the fun. We usually end up spending the whole $10 on each person but the gifts are usually worth a lot more!

Click below to read the full article-

http://chicago.suntimes.com/lifestyles/dear-abby-the-man-i-love-has-a-secret-girlfriend-baby/

Preparing For a Summer of No Income

Preparing for a summer of no income

Having summers off represents one of the greatest advantages of some professions, but also one of the greatest stressors.

Many people in the education field, including college professors, work approximately 8-9 months out of the year and have 3-4 months off. Not all employers provide the option of extending paychecks over 12 months. Many other professions are also cyclical in nature and after months of intense work you might suddenly find yourself without an income and with nothing to do.

The more prepared you are for the summer, financially and otherwise, the more stress you can remove from your life and enjoy the time off as it is meant to be enjoyed.

  1. Calculate your monthly expenses and then calculate exactly how much money you will need to get through the summer– Calculate the absolute minimum amount of money you will need to get through the summer (We are talking beans and rice diet and not spending a penny) and also calculate a realistic amount you need to continue your current standard of living. Don’t forget that most people don’t get paid as soon as they go back to work. Some people will be back at work for 2 weeks to a month before they receive their first paycheck. Also, don’t forget that you may have additional ways to save money in the summer like less commuting costs, less convenience food, etc.
  2. Save, Save, Save– Every extra penny you have needs to go into savings to help you get through the summer. If you do not have the absolute minimum amount of money to get through the summer you need to start making some plans now. How can you currently save more money? How can you work over the summer?
  3. Set yourself up for extra income during the summer– I have been buying items to sell on eBay when I happen to make it to a thrift shop or yard sale but haven’t had the time to list them. I will be listing them this summer. I also plan on indulging my hobby of scouring thrift shops for more items to sell online. This usually provides extra income and I love doing it. I also picked up a few 6 week summer classes to teach that I wasn’t planning on but if the classes don’t fill up that income is not guaranteed. Let friends and family know they can pay you to babysit or pet sit if you are interested. I also plan on trying to earn more Swagbucks for extra spending money.
  4. Be realistic about your summer plans– We had been planning on going on a cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday but unfortunately we had unexpected expenses present themselves during the year that meant that we couldn’t afford the cruise. However, we ended up renting a couple of condos on the beach with the price split between family and friends. We are going to have just as much fun and save a lot of money! I also knew that I needed to buy a couple of plane tickets this summer so I ended up factoring that into the amount I would need to get through the summer. However, if you are wondering how you are going to pay your bills this summer knowing you haven’t saved enough money you might have to cut any activities that aren’t free from your summer plans.
  5. Plan Free/Frugal summer activities – We live in Florida so our main summer activity is hanging out at the beach which only costs us a little bit of gas. There is also the discount movie theatre which is .75 cents on Tuesday nights. I plan on renewing my library card this summer and catching up on some reading. Exercising at beautiful, local parks is also free. There are tons of fun, free summer activities that you can take advantage of.
  6. Spend time with family and friends- Priceless but free! I never feel like I have enough time to spend with family and friends during the work years so I make sure to have plenty of time for them during the summer.
  7. Plan on doing frugal things you didn’t have time for during the rest of the year– If you aren’t working then your job is to save even more money. For example cooking more meals at home, hanging your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer, planting a garden, etc.
  8. Adjust your mentality– Summer is a time to rest and recharge after working the rest of the year. Take time to be outside and enjoy the little things. Don’t think that spending money is a requirement for having fun. You know that novel you have always wanted to write? Now might be the time.
  9. Get Organized– Get rid of things you don’t want/need, clean and organize the entire house.
  10. Try to take care of things that you didn’t have time for during your work year– For me, this list includes getting new glasses (mine are currently so scratched after 6 years of use that I can barely see through them), going to the dermatologist (a must for Floridians), detailing my car (my labor not paying someone), finishing sewing projects (I have clothes that need mended and pants that need hemmed in addition to other projects I plan to tackle) , deep cleaning the house, any store returns I have been putting off, etc. This is also a good time to fix things that need to be fixed.
  11. Travel frugally– I happen to believe that travel is good for the soul and I sacrifice in a lot of other areas so that I have the money to do it. There are some inexpensive ways to travel including house sitting, camping, road trips, cheap plane tickets, visiting family, etc. If you believe in doing this enough you can figure it out.
  12. Stock up on bargain basement deals– If you have the extra money and storage space, stock up on items you will use throughout the year at bargain basement prices when you find them. Having a stockpile of basic food goods that won’t go bad quickly saves me tons of money throughout the year. Over the summer I have time to follow the grocery store loss leader sales more closely.
  13. Set yourself up for success before you go back to work– Put systems in place to make it easier to adjust to returning to work. I will fill my freezer with drop and go crock pot meals, stock my pantry with the basics, clean and organize the whole house, take care of appointments and car maintenance all so that the transition back to work goes much more smoothly.
  14. Put a plan into place for the next year for your next summer- Three months of summer always seem to fly by. However, planning ahead makes a huge difference. If you are transitioning to only working 8 months of the year it usually takes a little while to perfect your system of saving for summer. If what you did this year worked great then implement it again for next year. If you wished you had saved more during the year then adjust your system for next year.

Best tips from others who have had summers off:

Mandy- “Don’t mindlessly shop. Only go to the store with a list and stick with it. That’s what I did when I wasn’t working. Take advantage of free things like your apartment pool or gym.”

Leanne– “I would make sure that I had things lined up ahead of time. I would look toward industries that gear up in the summer, rather than slow down. For example, teachers and professors could always look to teach a specialized program at a summer camp.” She also suggests that before you make a purchase from a store, Macy’s for example, you check eBay. She recently bought a $60 Macy’s blouse on eBay for $8 including shipping!

Fate- “I did an auto deposit of 1/3 of my paycheck into a savings account during the work year at a different bank so I never see it. That’s what I’m living off in the summer.”

Karin– “I would probably get really creative with food and try to have fun with it. I know an adjunct who made it kind of a project to eat everything in her pantry and not buy groceries (aside from milk, bread and eggs) for a few months. And I’d pick up a fun, cheap hobby like painting and/or writing to make good use of my free time without spending money. So basically I would focus on saving money and having (almost) free fun instead of trying to figure out how to earn- that is, if you have some money set aside to get you through!”

Tiffany– “Play on your strengths with a part time job as a tutor, SAT prep, or nanny. Produce something of value in your free time like a blog or a self-published book.”

Maureen– “No dryer, hanging clothes. Using air conditioning units only until the room is cool. Buying only dry cat food. Staying away from stores because if I go to the store I buy something.”

 

Do you have any great tips for surviving a temporary period of no income? Share your story with us!

 

3-27-16 A Few Frugal Things

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– We were going to meet my Mother at Cracker Barrel for Easter today but instead Mom decided to make a big Easter dinner. She only spent $33 for a whole ham dinner because of discounts she receives from working at Target. We are bringing dessert. I wanted to make a Peanut Butter Pie but our Dollar Tree was out of all natural peanut butter so I am making a Devil’s Food Cake with chocolate icing for $2 from Dollar Tree. Cheaper and I didn’t have to make another trip to the store. And Mom said she is sending us home with leftovers!

– We have been using paper towels instead of snake bedding and a cardboard box with a door hole for her house for the snake’s tank because we are trying to get rid of mites. This is also significantly cheaper than her regular bedding. (See picture above)

– I continue to give my college students paper that was printed on one side but blank on the other to write their in class essays. This way the paper gets used on both sides and not thrown away. While this doesn’t actually save me money I feel that it is a good life lesson for my students and it does save the colleges a small amount.

– I was completely out of blank paper for copies but several of the schools I work for give us free school supplies. I asked about paper and although they don’t normally provide it they did give me an entire unopened ream of paper because I asked. Another school gave me free expensive pens. I LOVE new office supplies, something about being a teacher maybe! I try not to buy any that are provided for free from my jobs and I actually end up buying very little.

– I have really been enjoying reading a few free Kindle books. Amazon offers so many books for free that I am trying not to buy any. It’s been a long time since I have actually purchased a kindle book.

– We really get a lot of use out of our Netflix and Prime Video streaming services and I just signed up for a free week of Hulu. Even if I keep the HULU subscription it’s still much cheaper than cable and I can cancel at any time.

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– I just received another free $5 Amazon.com gift card from Swagbucks and did an activity that will earn another $5.

– I lost my nice stainless steel reusable water bottle so I have been using a disposable Gatorade bottle until I get another.

– I ran out of my chemical free toothpaste so I have been cutting open the ‘empty’ ones and this lasts a lot longer than you think.

– I wore out the wheels on my professor rolling bag, my father has some I can use to replace them, and in the meanwhile I am using my back up rolling bag that was less than $1 at the Goodwill Outlet in Austin

– There are a few things that I would like to buy to add to my teaching wardrobe but I don’t NEED NEED them and I am committed to not buying any NEW clothing for a year. So instead I looked on eBay but didn’t find what I wanted so I added them to my thrift list.

– I have realized that a gray pea coat jacket would make my life a lot easier because it doesn’t have to be lint brushed as much as my black one (I have a white cat and her hair is very, very noticeable on black). The exciting part is that I bought one at the Goodwill Outlet in Austin, TX when I visited my sister. I couldn’t bring it home on my last trip but she saved it for me.

– We bought a few things for the same price or cheaper on Amazon Prime. This saves even more money because then we don’t have to go to a store and possibly buy even more. We also get free shipping materials for our eBay business.

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