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Thanking My Lucky Stars I am a Low-Maintenance Gal


I’ve been reading some personal finance blogs, and I realized something. I am so glad that I am low-maintenance because I don’t think I could live the way I am living if I wasn’t. Whoever decided I was to grow up as a Tomboy – I thank you.

If you want some brutal honesty – I work at home and seriously I work in my pajamas. My hair is pulled back in a ponytail and I just go to work in my office. I don’t change all day unless I have to leave my house. No make-up, nothing. I do smoke outside because I hate smoking indoors (which is good for the whole family) and I go out there in my pajamas. I don’t think my neighbors care.

Now, when I have to leave the house I get on “normal” clothes, brush my hair and sometimes depending on if my hair looks decent or not I will put on a hat. I basically forgo make-up except if I’m feeling a little feisty and I put on some mascara. But that’s rare. For my nails, I make sure they are clean underneath and that’s about it. I cut them when they get too long to type decently. I’ve never had a manicure in my life and I doubt I ever will.

As for some other things, I don’t wear perfume. I do have one bottle, but it was my grandmothers and it’s kept for sentimental reasons. I do like to buy the smelly Suave shampoos though. Those make you smell nice for a day or so, especially the strawberries and cream.

Speaking of hair, haircuts are few and far inbetween. I have the same darn haircut since high school and it’s a long hairdo and it’s not too hard to cut yourself then have someone help you straighten the cut. So, that works for me. Sometimes I wonder if I should go for a change, but I like my hair the way it is. I just wash and go. Easy and cheap.

So, now when I post later today where exactly my money goes you won’t think I am a complete dirty mess when I reveal how much I spend on grooming πŸ˜›

Saving Money on Gas at First Fuel Banks


There’s a story that tells of folks who purchased gasoline (for future use) years ago at lower rates from First Fuel Banks. So now they get to fill up their vehicles for less than the current prices.

I’ve heard of people doing this for heating oil – paying in advance for a season and locking in the rate.

But for gasoline? This is the first I’ve heard of this and it is an interesting read.

Read the full story at Yahoo

A Frugal Tip for Broken Eyeglasses


Over at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, he mentioned that his wife’s eyeglasses suffered a blow from a kickball game and broke her eyeglasses in two. So, I thought I would share a frugal tip with everyone.

The last time I had an eye exam, I just bought new lenses for my frames. My frames were still in good shape, so I figured, why not? I loved the style and it will save some money.

Wouldn’t you know it – the frames broke right on the side of the bridge a few months later. The frames are titanium, and no one could sauder them back together. (NOTE ADDED 5/6/05 – someone left a great comment on this post mentioning that some titanium frames have a lifetime warranty. So, make sure you take your glasses back to where you purchased them from and ask. And next time you shop for glasses, make sure that you ask about any warranties – they could save you some money down the road)

As I wondered what to do, because at the time I was not working and income was super tight – I had an idea. What about using a pair of sunglasses? It turned out that I had an old pair that looked like they would almost work. So I got out a pair of pliers and started shaping the sunglasses in the shape of my lenses. I placed the lenses in, and voila – I had glasses again.

To the naked eye, you can’t tell they are sunglasses. They are actually quite stylish too. Just a note – this method works best with frames that only use a plastic wire for the bottom. Then you only have to shape the top of the frames πŸ™‚

Total Savings – over $100.

My frugal glasses on the left, my broken glasses on the right.
Yes, I am so frugal I kept the broken pair πŸ™‚

Twelve Frugal Wedding Tips from My Wedding


My outdoor wedding was pretty frugal and very simple. But – it did not lack beauty. It only cost about $2,000 with $1,000 of it spent on my ring and dress (the most expensive parts of the whole day). Here’s some things that I did that may help some of you out there considering a simple outdoor wedding.

1.) Have the wedding and/or reception in a park. We had our wedding and reception at a state park. We rented one of the pavillions for the entire day for a mere $30.

2.) Make your own wedding invitations. We purchased paper from a local office supply store and printed our own invitations. I addressed the envelopes with calligraphy to add a touch of elegance. The envelopes were sealed with stickers that went along with what we were giving out as favors as a touch of fun. Overall, the ability to design the invitations ourself added to the personal touch we wanted for the wedding.

3.) Hire a friend as a DJ. I think most of us have a friend that is a “wanna-be” or is a DJ. Let them do your wedding and save the cost of paying a professional.

4.) Rent chairs from a local college – not a rental or wedding rental place. As soon as you put the word “wedding” on something, the price goes up. See if your local college has fold-up chairs for rent. Our chairs cost around $30 for the day.

5.) Get creative for the cake topper. I couldn’t find a cake topper that fit my nature theme of the wedding, so I made one with none other than a Chia Tree!! (turn down the volume if you check out the link) I just used the tree, gave it a coat of paint, added two little doves purchased from a craft store and glued them on top. Add some ribbon in the wedding colors, and voila – a nice looking cake topper. And no one knew it was a Chia Tree πŸ˜‰

6.) Make your own wedding cake. Going with the nature theme of our wedding, my dad cut blocks of a tree in varying heights and I used those to place the cake layers on. For decorating the cake, I used a simple lacework technique that anyone can do because it is a sporadic type of decoration. It also hides any imperfections well if you have the lacework closer together or create multiple layers of lacework.

7.) Have a dry reception (or an almost dry one). Our reception was completely alcohol-free. As a result, a lot of money was saved. Sure, there may have been some guests that missed the alcohol, but we did not drink and we knew that some of our guests could not hold their alcohol well. The great thing is that it is your wedding and you can make the decisions.

8.) Make your own favors. I like to paint when I have the time, so I painted favors to give away to guests. I found little semi-clear bags with leaves on them from a dollar store to put the painted favors in.

9.) Skip a professional photographer. We had two designated amateur photographers (family members) document our wedding. They loved the idea of being the photographers and we ended up with some really great photos. With two of them working hard to capture the moment, they often caught different angles of the same thing occuring. We also included disposable cameras at the picnic tables to capture even more angles.

10.) Have cold cuts for the reception. Our wedding was during the hottest part of the summer and outdoors so we didn’t want real hot food. We decided on cold cuts and just made sure they were rolled up nicely and the cheese was cut in a fancy way. Presentation is key, and that just takes some time to do (not money).

11.) Borrow what you can. I worked in a cafeteria at the time and I asked if I could borrow some pans for holding food and ice. If you know of someone with something that would work for your wedding, ask. The worst they could say is no. Just make sure you return things in great shape.

12.) Buy food in bulk. If you know of someone in the restaurant or food service business, ask if they can order certain things for you through their distributor and let you purchase the product at their cost. That way, you save some money even above what you could purchase bulk items for from places like Sam’s Club.

Wow, writing all that makes me feel like planning another frugal wedding πŸ™‚

Tags: frugal, wedding

Frugal Tips, Time Management – This Housecleaning e-Book has it All


Right now in my life I have so much work and projects going on that I don’t have much time to clean. Luckily, my husband has been helping, our our house could be considered a disaster area.

It’s not that I like my house a mess, I just I have so many other things to do with my time and most of them produce needed income. My lack of time was the appeal when I was contacted to review the e-book, “The Happy Slob’s Guide to Housecleaning.”

The author, Christina Spence, is very candid and very funny with how she presents the task of housecleaning. The tone is just great, and while the e-book discussed housecleaning, it almost made me get up from my chair, forget about the work, and clean!

Christina developed a 3-Step Solution that she describes in detail in her book and it really works. It takes the sometimes daunting task of housecleaning and breaks it down into simpler tasks. How ingenious! And with the tone of the book, “a lived in look is fine, since you do live in your home, right? I thought so,” this author isn’t cracking a whip telling you that your house has to be spotless. She understands that life happens and if you can’t get to something today, you can get to it another day.

An extra bonus with the book that I was not expecting was the information on how to make your own cleaners. For the frugal-minded like myself, it was a treat! Now I know how to make my own disenfectant, window cleaner and more.

If you are looking for a way to simplify your housecleaning routine, make your own cleaners or just looking for a laugh I would definitely check out this eBook. It’s a book that was a joy to read and I learned a lot of great things. Maybe it could help some of you out there too. Just so everyone knows, this is a straight book review and I am in no way affiliated with the author.

You can find out more about this book and being a “Happy Slob” at http://www.happyslob.com. Christina also has a “Happy Slob” blog at http://happyslob.blogspot.com

Tags: cleaning, housecleaning

Six Money-Saving Tips for the Grocery Store


I used to work at a grocery store, so here are some insider tips on getting more bang for your buck the next time you shop.

1.) Go shopping in the morning or early afternoon on the weekdays. Most managers of departments within a grocery store work during that time. Often, they are the only ones that can give authorization to reduce close-dated items. They also go through their items and mark things down. By the evening, most of the marked-down items are gone so try to go early.

2.) If you see something close to being outdated, ask for a deal. Some outdated products do go back to the distributor. But, some items just get thrown out (depends on the brand). If you find something in the store that is close to being outdated, ask about getting a reduced price. The worst they could say is no.

3.) If you like deli meats, ask the deli manager if you could purchase the ends. If you are unfamliar with the term “ends,” it refers to the very ends of the meat that cannot be sliced any further. Some deli’s use the basic turkey and ham ends for salads, but the other flavors sometimes just get thrown out. Ask the deli manager if they would be willing to sell the ends to you. The ends are great for cubing for salads or casseroles.

4.) If you are looking to spend less while shopping, look at the bottom shelves. There have been studies done that show that consumers are more likely to purchase items that are at eye level. Stores are likely to put more expensive product at eye level while the cheaper products are closer to the floor.

5.) If you need cases of a product, ask for a discount. Let’s say you need two cases of tomato sauce for a family reunion. You don’t have a nearby bulk food store to go to. Ask your neighborhood grocery store if they will give you a discount for buying so much. Even if it is 10%, it’s still saving you money.

6.) Get to know the workers on a first name basis. As a former worker, I can tell you that I was more likely to go out of my way to try to help someone that was nice to me. If a loyal customer asked for something and we didn’t have it at the moment (e.g. day-old donuts) I would tell them that I would set one aside for them the next day.

Post included in the 21st Festival of Frugality at Wandering Indian Monk.
Tags: grocery+shopping, frugal

Should I Save Up an Emergency Fund?


I have been reading over and over about the benefits of saving up an emergency fund. And, a well-known author I’ve just recently looked into suggests saving up $1,000 even before you start agressively paying down debt.

I had $1,000 extra that I used to pay down credit card #2. Now I read that I should have kept it for an emergency fund?

I do not have an emergency fund and have never had one. I am living paycheck to paycheck (although there is a little more leeway now) and any emergencies that have arisen have been financed by my credit cards. When our fridge needed to be replaced, it went on the credit card. When we needed a new door, it went on the credit card. Sure, the debt was increasing, but there was no leeway back then to even think of having an emergency fund.

I just think it is more logical (for me) to forgo the emergency fund and pay down the credit cards. An emergency is just that – an emergency. You never know when, or if, it can happen. Why should I let $1,000 sit on my credit card at 16.9% interest when I have $1,000 sitting around doing nothing except waiting for an emergency?

One day, I will have an emergency fund, but I just cannot justify in my mind why I should have one at this point in my life. My financial situation just doesn’t warrant it, and I think what it boils down to is that we all have to do what is right for our financial situation. Just because everyone is doing it or there is a high-profile person promoting it – doesn’t mean that it is right for you.

Technorati Tags: emergency+fund, credit+card