Monday, September 7, 2015

Another Frugal Labor Day Weekend

It is another frugal Labor Day weekend here at the Frugal Shrink casa.  I haven't done much this weekend, but I have been busy with a few frugal tasks yesterday afternoon and today:

* Cleaned and conditioned several pairs of leather shoes.
* Rented three Redbox movies, one of which was free with a code.
* Completed a slew of food prep- made quinoa salad, cheese stuffed pasta, egg salad, and twice baked potatoes.  You can always tell when I'm low on groceries because I start cooking when this happens!!
* Completed my own pedicure.
* Did several loads of laundry with homemade detergent.  Used the dryer on the towels/ 'round the house stuff, but hung my "good" clothes to dry. 
* Applied for a couple of online side gigs (teaching and records review). 

In other non-frugal news, I am in the process of signing up for violin lessons!!!!!!!!  I think that might require a few more exclamation marks:  !!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is one of those "I'm frugal so that I can do X" types of things.  I've never so much as picked up a violin, but I am excited to learn.  I used to play flute and tenor saxophone, but it's been 15+ years since I've done so.  

For those of you in the U.S., I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Frugal Happenings

More fun in the frugal sun...

* Wanted something sweet, so I made cookies with ingredients I had in the house.  This involved chopping up some dark chocolate bars instead of using chocolate chips- so good!!

* Worked on using up food in the house- made a chili cornbread casserole and hard boiled some eggs for lunches last week.  Also made a pizza and iced tea.

* Went to the grocery store and ONLY purchased what was on my list (!!). Twice.  I knew there were a few food products that I would be buying that were brand name, so I did a quick search online and found $8 of printable coupons to use.

* A couple of years ago, I was given a (new) vacuum cleaner for a gift. I've kept it in the garage waiting for my current vacuum to go kaput.  That time has finally come, and I have a replacement all ready to go.

* Sold a dress, two tops, and an exercise DVD on Ebay.  Listed another exercise DVD for sale as well.  The tops were two new J. Crew Factory items that were final sale and couldn't be returned.  I made a profit on both.  Brands that have sold well for me recently on Ebay include J. Crew, J. Crew Factory, Anthropologie, Born shoes, and any Beach Body exercise videos. 

* Dyed my own hair and did my own pedicure.

* Went to the thrift store with my mom.  Purchased a silk Brooks Brothers sweater for .85 from the sale rack and an aqua glass that matches several others I have for .25.  I didn't have any cash and didn't want to use my debit card for that amount, so my mom paid my whopping $1.10 and refused to let me pay her back. Also, how exciting it is to be able to purchase two wanted, quality items for less than two bucks!

* Haven't made it to the used bookstore yet, so I've continued to declutter books and add to my to be consigned pile.  I will purchase some Christmas gifts with the credit I will receive (used books are socially acceptable as gifts in my family).

* Sorted through my clothing consignment pile and have a large bag of clothing to take to the consignment shop in October.  I could take some now, but I'd rather wait and take everything at that time as they don't accept sweaters or jackets until then.

* Painstakingly went through my Kindle and deleted ~150 books.  Most (maybe all) of them were free, but I was never going to read them.  Now I can better see what I have, and I have quite a few interesting Kindle books to read.  Cheap entertainment.

* Attended a work meeting where a (very good) free meal was provided.  

* Am going to attempt to sew a Spiderman hand puppet out of felt for my nephew's upcoming 5th birthday.  Attempt is the key word here!!

What's new in your frugal world?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Frugal Happenings

Hello, Reader!  Here's what I've been up to:

*Received a check for $11 and change from the clothing consignment shop.

*Participated in a health survey and a blood draw for labs through work.  This will save me $300 off of my yearly health insurance premiums AND I was able to get the labs/ panel for free, which my nurse practitioner had been wanting me to do anyway.  Win win!

*Sold a stack of old Nancy Drew books ($20) and two metal magazine/record holders ($20) on Craigslist.

*Sold a pair of shoes on Ebay ($23).

*Calculated my work productivity and realized that in October I will finally, FINALLY rise to the next productivity level, meaning a boost in income.  For now anyway.

*Started a side business rather inexpensively.  It's not quite up off the ground yet, but I've only spent a few hundred dollars (business cards, fliers, website, et cetera) and there is a strong possibility of making thousands if all goes well.  We'll see.

*Discovered that I had ~$150 that I'd forgotten about from Upromise (referral link in sidebar) shopping and credit card rewards.  I already had another $150 set aside for gift shopping, so I had about $300 in total to begin working on Christmas shopping.  Got quite a bit purchased with that amount and stuck to my budget.

*Have been mostly eating food at home and packing work lunches.  A favorite lately has been potato burritos (Cut up potatoes into bite sized pieces.  Toss in cumin, onion powder, a bit of salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Cook on stove top in a bit of oil until soft.  Layer potato, aged cheddar, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime on a tortilla.  SO GOOD.).  Today I also made a batch of iced chai lattes and a homemade pizza.

*Started exercising three days per week with a video and kettle bells.  Very inexpensive to purchase and easy to complete at home, meaning I'm more likely to actually do it!

*Started physical therapy for my hip/ knees/ lower back.  Not frugal to start with, but I have a feeling this will save me tons of money in medical bills/ injuries in the future!!  Plus I will keep my book and handouts with the prescribed exercises and will be able to refer to them as needed, saving money on future PT costs.

*Decluttered my bookshelves again and have a large bag to take to the secondhand bookstore to see if I can get credit for some of them.

*Have been entertaining myself with books, Netflix, Instagram, music on my iPod, and favorite websites.  I am pretty easy to entertain and that saves money as well.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Frugal Happenings

Per usual, I am not dead, I'm just a bad blogger!  Also a busy one.  I'm trying to start up a small side business, did a bit of travel, had a birthday, discovered that I have arthritis in my hip at the ripe old age of 33, had sclerotherapy, continued with my regular work, and kept on living life.  But let's do a bit of frugal happenings, yes?

* Dropped off a small bag of clothing to the consignment store on my way to another town.  Collected a ~$40 check from them from my last bag drop off.  This place has the absolute WORST customer service in the world but the checks are worth it.

* Visited the dermatologist to have a mole removed and forgot to use my flex account when I paid my copay.  Made sure to submit the $40 copay afterward to my flex account and promptly received a reimbursement check.

* Have been enjoying the asiatic lilies I planted in my front bed three years ago.  The initial investment wasn't expensive, and they've been returning every year despite being planted in a shallow bed.

* Have attended multiple church and neighborhood garage sales and have gotten GREAT deals on clothing.  Also bought a new-to-me hose reel for $4 which has been very useful.  Went to a $2 bag sale at a church in my neighborhood and discovered that I really only wanted a large box of envelopes and a photo album, so I filled the rest of the bag with clothing that I knew I could resell at the clothing consignment shop.  My mom wanted three of the clothing items, so it was a win-win all around and everything ended up being .18 per piece (!!).

* Sold my old garden hose reel on Craigslist for $5.  I had paid $3 for it at a previous church sale.

* Listed a set of three vintage suitcases, a wicker bookcase, and a set of Nancy Drew books on Craigslist.  The suitcases are supposed to be picked up today ($20) and I'm just waiting on the other two items to sell.  Also listed a giant lamp in the free section that was taking up space in my garage and it practically flew out the door.

* Planted two raised beds rather inexpensively.  Received multiple tomato plants for free from my auntie, which are really growing quickly.

* Have worked steadily to increase my productivity (working on getting more referrals from physicians and filling any empty schedule spots) at work, which equals more $ in the long run.  There are definitely seasonal cycles to my schedule, and my spots fill up (and people show up) in the winter more easily than the summer.

* Had a few makeup/ beauty items from CVS that I tried and didn't like.  They offer 100% back on beauty returns, even those items that have been opened.  Received ~$30 back (a couple of expensive items).  While I was there, bought two contact lens solutions using two $3/10 coupons that I had loaded to my card as well as a $3 Extrabuck that I got by downloading their app.  Made for very cheap solution, and I like the app much better than navigating the website!

* Had a $10 reward at Walgreens which I used to buy dish soap, Tums, and toilet paper only.

* Received a free birthday drink at Starbucks and a free birthday meal at Steak n Shake as part of their loyalty programs.  

* Continued doing my own manicures, pedicures, hair removal, hair dye, and skin treatments.  I did pay for my usual $22 haircut (tip included in that price) which was desperately needed!

That's all for now...follow me on Instagram (@thefrugalshrink) for more frequent updates!  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Vintage Crewel Collection

I have a thing for vintage crewel work and embroidery.  Can you imagine the hours of work people put into these pieces??  I sure don't have the patience (or talent) for that!! When I find a cute piece that is reasonably priced, I add it to the collection in my guest bedroom.

Flowers, mushrooms, raccoon (!!!):

This was purchased from the original owner/ creator and is probably my favorite:

Funky crewel and my poodles:

This is HUGE.  Like two by three feet huge.  I'm planning to mount it over the bed in the guest room but that hasn't happened yet:

And another pretty favorite:

Anyone else have a crewel collection?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Frugal Happenings

Haven't done one of these in a while!!

*Received a $15 check from my credit card rewards which I promptly deposited into my "Gifts" savings account.

*Will receive a ~$50 check from my credit card rewards this month.  This is unusually large because of a big purchase I made several months back.  I try to put most of my purchases on my credit card so that I can get cash back.  

*Stocked up on four pounds of butter while it was under $2 for Easter.  Also bought a couple of bricks of cream cheese at .88 each.

*Have figured out how to do a manicure that lasts most of the week without chipping.  The Gelous nail base from Sally Beauty Supply is worth every cent!!  After the initial Gelous purchase ($5ish), I've spent $0 weekly on manicures.

*Finished my taxes which cost a total of $20 to file.  I am pleasantly getting back ~$200 which is nice since last year I had to pay in 2K.  

*Wanted to spend half of that $200 refund but decided to pacify myself with a $5.99 Kindle download instead.  It worked.

*I downloaded a free Kindle book.

*Continued to save 12% of my salary in my retirement account.  In March I received ~2K from the company that I work for as a match and service contribution.  Free money!!!!!

*Learned that I CANNOT go without taking a probiotic.  Saved some money by purchasing a six month supply off of the Walgreens website.  The probiotic that I use is $22.99 in my local store, but $20.99 on the website.  I waited for a buy one get one free sale, received free shipping, AND received $2.52 back from Ebates.  

*Continued to look for gifts well in advance of birthdays and Christmas.  I am doing a much better job of staying on budget this way.

*Purchased a pair of needed work pants but had them shipped to the local store to save $8 in shipping.  Waited to pick them up until I had other errands in that area.

*I received another $10 off $10 purchase coupon from JC Penney.  I bought two shirts and one gift for $3 out of pocket.

*I have been enjoying reading my huge to-be-read pile and catching up on Netflix.  Simple pleasures!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Frugal Shrink on Instagram!!

I am now on Instagram @thefrugalshrink!  I barely know what I'm doing and only have three photos up, but come on over and visit!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March Spending

Things are moving along quickly with the spending challenge.  And with this year.  How is it already nearly April???  Time to update you on how I did this month:

The Good:

* Gasoline- Spent $49.01 total to fill up my tank twice and I still have about half of a tank left.  My gas spending is WAY down since I no longer travel for my side job.  I think I used to spend around $140-$160 per month.

* Shoes- $192.96 for four pairs of shoes, but I will return $100 worth. I fractured my foot several years ago and am missing a bone, which requires me to wear orthotics most of the time.  It isn't easy for me to purchase shoes, so I usually place an order a couple of times per year on 6pm (Zappos' clearance site) and send back what doesn't work.  I ordered four pairs and two work for me, so I actually spent $92.96 on a pair of sandals and a pair of work shoes that fit my orthotics.  Not exciting, but necessary.

Seeds- $28.81 from Baker Creek.  I'm planning my garden for this year. I will split part of this order with my auntie, so the cost will eventually be less than this.

* Thrift/ Flea Markets/ Estate Sales- $90.58.  This is a huge amount for secondhand shopping and it's rare that I spend this much!!  $45 of this was on an Obelisk upholstery fabric remnant to cover the seats of my dining room chairs.  I also bought the aforementioned $8 cross stitch, a $7 vintage white wicker purse, a $4 pink lace shirt, a $7 print, a .75 print, and a couple of gifts for family members.

* Continuing Education- $230ish, but this will be reimbursed by work.

* Gifts- $137 on gifts not included in the thrift total above.

The Questionable:

* Amazon Video on Demand- $3.98.  I have spent the past four or five months catching up on Bones on Netflix.  I started watching it when I was in grad school and then life took over and I quit watching.  Well, I recently finished the ninth season which ends with a big cliffhanger and I HAD to find out how it ended, which meant spending $1.99 on two episodes of season ten on Amazon.  WORTH IT.  I did get a $1 credit for a song download with this purchase.

* Car Wash- $7.  I could've washed it myself, but, you know, lazy.  My car did need it after the inclement weather and road salt.

* Cat Brush/ Toy- $15.21.  Anything to help my cat with her long fur, but it really was not necessary.

* Marshalls- $13.52 on socks and chocolate.  I am having a hard time finding thick, quality socks.  These were neither and I probably could've waited to find nicer socks.  The chocolate was $2 and unnecessary but delicious.

The Ugly:

* Fast food- $43.26.  WHOA!!!!  Gotta get back on track with this.  I don't have a good excuse.

* Puritan's Pride- $53.94.  Apparently I unintentionally signed up for an auto-send on a supplement that I'm no longer taking.  I will return this, but how annoying that I didn't notice before it shipped.

The Is-It-Cheating-If-I-Had-Coupons:

* Walgreens- Three lipsticks and an eyeshadow brush for .18 after rewards coupon.  I KNOW, I KNOW I am not supposed to be buying makeup, but it was almost free!!!  I am so weak.  If you haven't checked out Wet n Wild makeup lately, you really should.  Their lipsticks and eyeshadows are some of my favorites- this pic does not do them justice.  They go on sale buy one get one half off at Walgreens and CVS, so that's a good time to try them out.

* J.C. Penney- I am also not supposed to be buying new clothing (thrifted is fine) but I wanted a couple of summer shirts and received a $10 off a $10 purchase coupon, meaning I paid $2.13 out of pocket for these two tops.  I mean, it was cheaper than the thrift store!!!!  Anyway.  Failure.  

Over to you- how was your March spending??

Monday, March 9, 2015

Latest Vintage Find

I picked up this sweet cross stitch yesterday afternoon during a quick run through one of the local flea markets.  I have a weakness for vintage needlework (I have a large vintage crewel work collection) and I liked the saying.  Sometimes my tiny, cold heart is warmed by the silliest things.  Ha!  It has now taken up residence in my living room.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spending Challenge: Vintage Curtain Edition

Hello, blog friends!  No, I am not dead.  I am finding myself completely unmotivated to do anything lately, including blogging.  The February slump, I suppose.  However, I need to update you:

Recent Spending:
1) Flea market (the indoor variety)- $17.74.  I have been looking for just the right curtain to go with my vintage dining set but had been unsuccessful.  There it was, the PERFECT curtain sitting on a hanger for just $3.25.  It's a 1960s Montgomery Ward single panel with pleated top and fits the dining area so well!!  I also bought some vintage decor items at the flea market. P.S. Someday soon I WILL post pics of my dining set.  

2) Lowe's- $21.39.  I bought dirt.  I am angry every time I buy dirt, but it is one million times easier to garden here in raised beds.  I will need to buy more dirt and seeds and garden-y stuff soon.

3) Career/ job stuff- $410.  Hopefully this will be reimbursed by work, but it was all unfortunately necessary.  

4) McDonald's- $13.10 over two trips.  As you know, this is against the spending challenge rules.  I don't even LIKE McDonald's that well and this was poor decision making when I got too hungry between lunch and dinner.  I'm putting snacks in my work bag to stop this.  Lesson learned.

5) DNA Analysis- $108.  Just for fun, and something I had planned prior to the challenge.  I am categorizing this as an "experience" which is permitted but it is definitely unnecessary spending.

Extra Money Earned:
1) ~$25 from cash back programs Ebates and Upromise.  
2) $1.98 (ha!) from clothing consignment.  
All of the above was moved to my "gifts" savings account.

Extra Money From Paychecks:
I've been able to move ~$340 to savings from my regular checks lately, which is unusual as I don't generally have much money left over after paying bills.  I also have had at least $400 other extra dollars to contribute to various needs/ causes.  Obviously I am saving money from watching my spending!! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lip Gloss Reprieve and Other Updates

I am settling in nicely with the spending challenge.  Except for one thing...

The hardest thing about this spending challenge has been not buying lipstick or lipgloss.  I realize how stupid that sounds, but it is true!  Making it worse is the fact that I ran out of my staple lipgloss (Mac Lipglass, $15) and lipstick (L'oreal Colour Riche in Mica, $8) right before the challenge.  I am also dangerously low on my second favorite lip glosses which are these cheapies. I am making do with what I have but it is tough and I am not pleased.  This week my friend brought me a gift set of six glosses- she does not know about the challenge, so it was a happy accident and not me begging for relief!  

I was at the hospital (working) longer than I thought I would be one day, and so I ran through the Taco Bell drive thru on the way to an acupuncture appointment.  $1.70 spent.  

1) Thrift store- two jackets/ blazers for work ($2.50 and $2.05 respectively) and a few books, one of which is new and will be part of a gift.  I wear jackets to work a lot in the summer when I need another layer to battle the air conditioning.  Total thrift cost: $6

2) Sunscreen- I wear sunscreen daily and have for the last decade plus.  I'm nearly out of my high-powered spring/ summer sunscreen, so I ordered some.  Cost: $12
3) Underwear- This is on my "must be bought new" list!  I ordered a bunch but did go through Ebates and used a coupon code.  Obviously. 
4) Sally Beauty Supply- I bought a couple of boxes of hair dye from Sally's and some other needed items. I did get a FREE bottle of  nail polish for buying two boxes of hair dye at one time.  Cost for everything: $25ish
5) Contact lenses- I used my FSA, so I didn't really feel the cost here.  I used a coupon code here, too, and did a price comparison to find the cheapest store.  I still need to order glasses.

Make Do:
I found myself wanting a gray cotton cardigan to wear with the aforementioned sequin tank top.  I poked around at the thrifts but didn't find anything.  This is a good thing because I realized that I already OWN a gray cardigan but it was out of sight, out of mind in my mending pile.  I have lots of different colored thread from an estate sale purchase a couple of years ago, so I had all the supplies needed and it just took about five minutes to sew up the hole.

Use It Up:
I've used up the ends of two shampoo bottles, a sunscreen, contact lens solution, and a lotion.  I still have an embarrassing amount of this stuff, so I continue to work through the pile.  

My second paycheck of the month is coming on Friday, so I hope to be able to update then and see if I have more money left over since starting the challenge.  See you soon!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Recent Spends and My First Technical Cheat

* I had my hair cut yesterday from bra-strap length to collar-bone length.  It has been an adjustment but my hair is reacting well to it and I think it's a flattering cut.  Cost: $23 with tip.

* Coming home from the hair cut, my car was almost on empty gasoline-wise.  I slid into the gas station on fumes and filled it up for $20 and change (!!!).  

* I went to the eye doctor today so she could see how the trial contacts fit my eyes and so I could get a prescription for contacts and glasses.  I'll order both online to get a better deal and will also use my FSA dollars for this, so it doesn't feel like any money out of pocket.  I am really near-sighted with astigmatism, so I save a bunch of money ordering the glasses online.  The contacts are near the same price but I do save a few dollars ordering online versus buying in-store.

* I had a few returns to make at a store, which netted me a $39 credit.  I bought face lotion with sunscreen, sports bras, socks, Lemi Shine for the dishwasher, and (here's the cheat!) a face powder/ highlighter that I didn't need.  BUT, it was free with the store credit, so...TECHNICALLY I didn't spend anything on it.  Do you like my rationalization?!

That's it for now.  No other spending has happened lately.  I am really curious to see if I will have more money in savings at the end of this challenge as a result of not spending on stupid stuff.  We shall see!  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Spending Challenge: Grocery Shopping and Other Updates

The spending challenge is going well!!  Over the past week, I've paid a few bills, went grocery shopping, and went out to lunch with a friend once (permissible according to my rules).  Other than that, no extra spending.

Grocery Shopping:
I did a big shop at Aldi where I spent $86.59.  I had been eating out of the pantry/ freezer for several weeks before Christmas and was out of most of my staples.  It's hard to show everything in one picture but I bought a ton of food.  If you haven't tried shopping at Aldi, you REALLY need to!

I also spent $8.34 at the bread outlet.  I don't eat a ton of bread so I usually just stock up for a few months at a time and freeze some of it.

Close Calls:
* On Tuesday I REALLY wanted to go through a drive thru after work.  I remembered the spending challenge and went home to cook dinner.

* I had extra time after I was done working today, so I had brief thoughts about going through the hospital gift shop to browse and also about going to Walgreens to look around.  It's amazing how often I have thoughts like that!  I went home instead.

* I have picked four subject areas that I want to learn about this year, and forensic anthropology is one of them.  I went to Amazon and looked through the textbooks and selected one that I thought would be informative.  I was going to buy a used older edition when I realized that I should check Paperback Swap first.  Sure enough, the same edition was listed!  I ordered it for free.

* I am out of my favorite lipstick (L'Oreal Colour Riche in Mica, if you're wondering).  I have two similar colors that I am trying to use up before I repurchase Mica.  They are NOT as pretty, but they will do.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Spending Challenge Confessions

Day One:

Yesterday was day one of the spending challenge and it was harder than I expected.  I was at home for a good part of the day and was so surprised at how often I thought, "Ooh!  I'll just pop onto Amazon and look up gadget X" or "Maybe I should look at what New Year's deals are on Z website".  WOW. Apparently I needed this spending challenge more than I thought.  The only money I spent was on a matinee ticket to Into the Woods and a popcorn while at the movie, both of which are acceptable to the challenge.  I considered driving through somewhere for a quick dinner as I am very low on groceries but I remembered that I had leftover chili/ cornbread casserole and so I ate that instead.  Win!  

Preparation Confessions:

I knew for about a month in advance that I was likely going to do this challenge.  As a result, I did find myself ordering/ buying a few things in preparation for it.  You know, important things like clothes that I don't need.  In the spirit of truthfulness, here is my last online order at J. Crew Factory placed on 12/27.  I may have a clothes hoarding problem but I am still the Frugal Shrink, so this was all clearance with an additional 40% off.

A sequin tank top.  Where does one wear a sequin tank top?  Most likely to work with a cardigan and pearls.  I mean, wouldn't YOU want to see a psychologist who wears sequins?  I thought so.

 A peplum top.  I am hourglass-y and don't even look that great in peplum tops, but I liked it so I'm gonna wear it.

This henley top but in gray.  Because I do not have enough black and gray clothing (yes, I do).  I debated on ordering the pink but the gray won out in the end.  Probably because of the never-ending gray weather lately.  I like to match the seasons.

Well, that's all for this round of confessions.  See you soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Buy (Almost) Nothing New 2015 Spending Challenge!!

I love the beginning of a new year!  Sitting down and evaluating what I accomplished in the last year, seeing what I still need to accomplish, and setting goals for the year ahead has always been a task that I really enjoy.  Goal setting is so important.

I've been thinking about doing a spending or buy nothing new challenge for some time, but honestly it has always scared me too much to want to try it.  Well, it's time to conquer my fears and get over it!  Plus it will be good blog material.  Tee hee.  Here is what I am planning:

Buy (Almost) Nothing New Spending Challenge:

* Time length and exceptions- I am aiming to buy nothing new for a period of six months.  Exceptions include shoes, underwear, gifts, toiletries/ food (obviously!), and services (such as haircuts).  There will be times when I need something and cannot find it used.  In those circumstances I will have to purchase new.  In the interest of being reasonable, I will try a time period of six months initially to see if it is a sustainable plan.  

* Regarding toiletries- I do have a LOT of toiletries stockpiled.  I need to use up what I have before I purchase something else.  I am easily distracted by good deals, and I need to use up the "good deals" that are already in my house.  Also- no makeup purchases with the possible exception of foundation.  I have PLENTY of everything else.  Time to use it up!

* Regarding restaurants- I can still eat at restaurants with friends and family.  I do want to stop driving through places when I'm by myself.  I hardly ever do that now since I've been keeping more food in the house, so I don't think it will be a huge problem.

* Gifts and services- I am deliberately allowing the purchase of new gifts and things like haircuts.  I have read a couple of blogs where people did spending challenges and it always annoyed me that they stopped giving gifts to people.  Really?!?  You think being stingy should be part of your financial improvement plan?  No.  And services just need to happen.  I am not cutting my own hair or plumbing my own pipes.  However, I will try to be creative with gifts, possibly making things as I am able or using store credits if I have them.  

You can expect weekly updates from me on how things are going.  Here we go...

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Frugal Shrink Talks Benefits

Hello reader!!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.  I had almost two weeks of sickness (strep plus miscellaneous cold virus) but am on the mend now and am feeling MUCH better.  

I've been thinking about financial goals for the next year, and plan to do a spending challenge for the first half of 2015.  Before I post about that, I thought I'd talk to you about what benefits I opt for through work.  It was time to change our benefits recently and this is what I decided:

* Accident policy- I only had this policy because you could get the full amount reimbursed after having two preventative health visits.  Too much of a hassle.
* Short-term disability- I have three months of expenses in my savings account, so there is no need to keep ST disability.  It was also an expensive and not particularly comprehensive policy.  

* Health insurance- Obviously.  
* Long term disability insurance- The only way I would be without LT disability insurance is if I became stupendously wealthy and my income didn't matter.  If you become disabled, you are looking at  what is generally an 18 month to two year fight to obtain Social Security Disability.  To me, it is better safe than sorry.
* 12% contribution to retirement- I am happy with this contribution for now.  At some point my income will rise thanks to the production-based compensation that we have.  When that happens, I may reduce this contribution so that I can direct dollars to other savings.  However, I am behind on retirement savings since I was in grad school until I was 26 and started my career late.

* FSA contribution- I increased this a lot.  I ran the numbers on what my general out of pocket health care costs are each year and also added in the fee for 10 acupuncture visits ($45 per visit).  Acupuncture helps tremendously with my knee pain, so I need to plan for it and stop acting like I won't need it.  I pay for vision and dental expenses out of pocket, so these costs are also included in my projected FSA costs.  I don't find vision and dental insurance to be that helpful for my needs, so this is the best option.

My paycheck amount will be about the same as it was before, but I am much more pleased with how everything is configured!

Anyone else figuring out their 2015 benefits?

Monday, December 1, 2014

The NonFrugal Saga of Vintage Chair Recovering: Part Two

And now we resume the saga of having my $40 pair of vintage chairs recovered.  You can find part one here.

In the end, my vintage chairs were only out of the house being recovered for about two weeks.  At the end of those two weeks, the upholsterer emailed me to let me know they were done and attached a grainy iPad photo.  Even from that grainy photo I could tell that they were BEAUTIFUL.

The before:

The after:
Do you like how I never "stage" any photo for you?  I thought about moving the weights but I'm all about keepin' it real around here.  Anyhoo, back to the chair.  ISN'T IT FABULOUS??!!!  The color is a darker gray IRL.  The thing that surprised me the most is how cushy the seats are now- I didn't realize just how worn out the previous seat cushion was.

An across the room shot:
Obviously that T.V. stand has GOT TO GO.  Waiting on the right (vintage) piece.  Funny how changing things up makes everything else look wrong.  

So there you have it!  My gorgeous chairs, recovered beautifully.  

Total cost:
Labor-                    ~$700 (it was something like $707 but I can't remember exactly)
Material-                  $150 (after 60% off sales and coupons)
Original chair cost- $40 for the pair

Definitely not a cheap route, but these are quality chairs that just don't exist in stores that I frequent.  I think there is better quality in pricier stores, but I am definitely priced out of that market.  I'm also glad to be redo-ing something old versus buying new.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dribs and Drabs

I have been a terrible blogger lately!  A combination of busy-ness and the winter blahs have made me quite unproductive as of late.  

BUT, I remain your ever-faithful Frugal Shrink who has been doing little bits of things to save or make money lately.  Such as...

* Sold the previously mentioned bar stools for $40 on Craigslist after a month of being listed.

* Sold the previously mentioned J. Crew coat for $80 (minus fees and shipping) on Ebay.

* Completed a health risk assessment at work which will net me $70 (before taxes) on a January paycheck.  Seriously, seventy bucks just to click through some answers and because I don't smoke.

* Received two checks totaling ~$80 from the bags I sent to the consignment store.  Woo hoo!!

* Submitted two receipts to insurance that should give me a $200 reimbursement for going to preventative care visits.

* Saved $62 on a prescription by using a coupon.

* Went through my books and found a small bag-full to take to the local used bookstore for credit.

* Signed up for a credit card to get a $90 Amazon gift card.  I used the gift card for Christmas shopping and will cancel the credit card.  (Note:  You wouldn't want to do this if you're buying a house soon or doing anything in the next couple of months that will require having your credit checked.  I'm not, and my credit is good enough that I don't frankly care about things like this affecting it.)

There are still some items around the house that need to be sold, but I think I've done pretty well given how unmotivated I feel!  These dribs and drabs sure do help a lot in the holiday months when it seems as though money is leaking out of your wallet.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dialing Down: Today I Saved $62.34 On a Prescription

Per usual, this is not an affiliate post and I don't get any compensation for talking about GoodRx.  

I don't take very many prescription medications, and the ones I do take are usually covered well by my insurance.  Except for one.  That one is not covered AT ALL and is expensive, usually $169.99 for a three month supply of the generic.  Since I'm always looking to whittle down my budget, I've been wracking my brain on how to get it cheaper. 

I had heard about GoodRx but figured that it was another useless discount card- after working in a pharmacy for six years, I am well aware that most of these just don't save you money.  I decided to try it out today anyway.  I went to their website, searched for my medication, and printed out the coupon that would make it $107.65 for a three month supply.  I figured that the pharmacy techs wouldn't know what it was or that it just wouldn't work.  Imaging my surprise when there were no questions asked and I suddenly was paying $62.35 LESS for my prescription!!!  That's $20.78 per month that can go to another budget category, and just under $250 per year savings.  Lately it feels as though I am hemorrhaging money, so it's nice to have one day where I save.

I am so PUMPED (as if you can't tell) to be saving money on this medication!  If you have one that is super expensive or not covered by your insurance, I highly recommend searching on their website to see if there is a cheaper option.  Full disclosure- I almost didn't try it out today because I was feeling a little shy and wasn't in the mood for any drama.  I am so glad that I did it anyway.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frugal Happenings

* Sent three trash bags of clothes/ shoes/ accessories to the consignment shop.  My friend took them for me, so no gas spent getting there.

* Mowed my own yard.  WHY am I still having to mow in late October??  I saved a bunch of money this year by being too lazy to hire someone to mow it for me.  Sometimes laziness and procrastination can save you money!!  Hee.

* Sold an old textbook on Amazon for ~$65.  I feel oddly attached to that book (no idea why!!) which is why it took me so long to sell it.  It's about the Rorschach ink blot test.  I haven't given a Rorschach in years and won't unless I change my practice significantly, so it was time to go.

* To avoid food waste, I chopped up some soon-to-be-bad strawberries and froze what I could.  I also used overripe bananas to make banana-walnut-chocolate chip bread.  I still struggle with food waste and it's an ongoing battle.

* I have been eating the majority of my meals at home.  I find that if I have a stocked freezer and pantry that I will eat at home, so I try to keep food in the house.  This also means having some junk food in the house, but I figure that junk food purchased at the grocery store is still probably better than junk food from the drive through or a restaurant.

* Attended a meeting and had a free meal at said meeting.  The food at these meetings is never great, but it is free.  The dessert is good, though!

* Attended a seminar for continuing education credits.  It was an inexpensive seminar ($79 for six hours) and my workplace paid for it, which is wonderful!  I'll be attending another seminar in November that will also be reimbursed by work.

* Sent and received several books from Paperback Swap.

* Tried plain cornstarch as an alternative for dry shampoo.  I am unfortunately an oily-scalped gal, so I need dry shampoo for my in-between days (I try to only shampoo every other day).  So far, it seems that plain cornstarch works just as well as the dang ol' expensive dry shampoo.  Yay!

* Figured out a fun DIY Christmas gift idea for my four-year-old nephew.  I am going to attempt to make him super hero finger puppets out of felt.  I've spent ~$2 on felt and have all the colors of thread that I need already.  Fingers crossed that I actually do it and that it turns out well!

* Since quitting my side job and transitioning my main job from hospital to clinic, I have saved a bunch in gas money.  I was having to fill up my gas tank weekly and now it's every two or even three weeks.

* I've been having a hankering for some new fall clothing and picked a few things out of catalogs that I was going to order...but I just couldn't pull the trigger.  Prices are ridiculous and I don't like supporting shady manufacturing practices.  Ugh.  Went to the thrift shop and got the pieces below plus a new long sleeved white t-shirt for ~$12 total.  

How are your frugal happenings?