Category Archives: frugal

The Spending Trend Continues!

I found myself in a place I said I would never go again.

A shopping mall.

I went back today because it has a Walmart and I wanted to get this cheapo pair of flat boots that would fit my wide calf (as seen in the Fatshionista! community). Lucky for me it wasn’t the zoo it was on the weekend. Note to self: do your shopping on a weird day!

I ended up taking several detours, slowly accumulating bags and purchases like it was my business! (Luckily I had my trusty reusable bags with me to help carry everything, including my My Bag! You can win one from me too, you know! To help you with your shopping! Just click here to enter!)

I just finished jotting down a list of all the people/events I must provide a gift for, and it breaks down like this:

7 (minimum) xmas gifts
4 birthdays
1 housewarming

That is TWELVE gifts that I have to come up with! For me that is a simply staggering amount! I am doing everything as frugally as possible, and I vacillate between being ridiculously proud of myself and crying in the corner because I still spent so much money.

So far I have about 6 of the gifts covered, and am well on my way to finishing up the remainder.

For my friends I’m trying to be uber-frugal, but in the end I wonder how much everything is going to cost. All the little pieces, sunk costs and miscellaneous bits that need to come together for these gifts could end up being quite the investment. For wrapping, I’ve been using the little that I have on hand, and have also visited a dollar store for some interesting items. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be baking/making little bags of goodies for everyone as the finishing piece to their gifts.

Here’s a photo of some of the things I’m giving away that I have ready to go:

Homemade apple butter & vanilla extract
Homemade apple butter & vanilla extract

I made and canned a batch of apple butter in the summer, and also made my own vanilla extract, both of which you can see in this photo.

I’m actually going to be including more stuff in each gift basket for my friends, but I don’t have it all in one place yet. Each friend is roughly going to get:

  • A jar of canned fruit I grew, picked & canned myself in the summer (pears or plums)
  • a jar of apple butter
  • and/or homemade pickles I made at the same time
  • and/or a bottle of vanilla
  • a bag or two of sweets
  • a pretty little basket or bag to hold it all in!

Once I’ve got it all together I’ll be sure to take some photos–if everything works out they should be pretty good-looking gifts! (Not gonna lie… when I try I am very talented at wrapping & presentation! You can see my mom’s gift in the background 😉 )

Even though I bitch and complain about putting these gifts together, I really enjoy doing it. If I had more or unlimited money I would do so much more! But I’d still probably include something handmade, and I like all my gifts to be as thoughtful as possible.

I just wish money wasn’t such a big concern for me right now. I don’t want to think about it, and I haven’t tallied anything up yet, but I have an inkling that these “frugal gifts” are actually costing me a lot more than I anticipated. Everything from the cost of the jars & wrapping supplies and the ingredients to make the goodies will eventually add up.

The question is–do I really want to know?

Frugal Horoscope!

Ahahahah I just had to share this with you! This is my horoscope for today, and it is so fitting for me and my personal finance blogging:

May 12th for Ginger

Being more frugal will help you save money for a luxury item you’ve always wanted. Cut back on impulse purchases like magazines. Put pocket change into a piggy bank. The savings will add up.

Taking a practical approach isn’t always the best way to make money. You may want to take a small gamble for a change. Try not to argue with someone whose values are different from yours.

Your economic situation is starting to look up, although it may not seem that way on the surface. The difference is that you’ve assumed a more positive attitude about your prospects. Bravo.

Man, I hope I get some money coming my way. Since our salaries were frozen this year I am hurting! However I just found out that we get an extra-long weekend; we’re getting Friday off this week as well! Nice!

Oh yeah, I’m a Capricorn in case you were interested.

Frugal Tip: Repair and Maintain

With the US recession monster casting a shadow even on the Canadian economy, I think it’s even more important than normal to find ways to prolong the use of things that you already have.

What do I mean by this? Repairing and maintaining things instead of running out and buying something cheap and new!

We currently live in a disposable society; purchasing things that are cheaply made and replacing them as they get worn or break with no thought as to how this effects our pocketbooks or the environment. (My roommate is a prime example of disposable society; she buys cheaply made crap and it breaks a week after she gets it, or it doesn’t do as good a job as something of better quality would. Now we’re stuck with irreparable furniture, etc. that we can’t even use but don’t want to get rid of since she just bought it. I’d rather just save up and get a good quality item.)

This topic has been breached before by blogs such as WiseBread and Get Rich Slowly, but I wanted to talk about how I do this for myself in a real-world example.

I’ve slowly begun buying higher-quality items for myself and my home in an effort to reduce costs in the longterm. Yes, buying higher-quality stuff costs more (sometimes a lot more) in the short term, but one of the benefits is that almost all of the things I’ve purchased can be easily maintained or repaired when the time comes due to superior materials and construction.

For example, I spent this morning focusing on my clothing. I folded everything I had lying around so it wouldn’t get dirty (every time you wash your clothes they break down a little bit more) and put it away. I also paid some attention to things that needed some sprucing up.

I used a fabric shaver to remove the pills on some pants and shirts which made them look instantly better. I also checked all the hems and seams for wear, sewing anything that I came across. Same thing for buttons. They’re easy to sew back on, so I checked my garments for loose ones and fixed them before they fell off.

As you can see I put my moderate skill in sewing to work. If you don’t know how to sew on a button or fix a hemline, you should find someone who can and get them to teach you–it’s ridiculously easy to do and saves the life of the garment as well as money since you don’t have to pay someone to fix it for you.

Now all the clothes that I worked on are refreshed and guaranteed to last me longer than if I had just let them fall apart.

This morning I also paid some attention to my footwear. I have a wonderful pair of black leather ankle boots that I simply adore. They cost me a pretty penny but are easy to maintain. When I first got them I made sure to use a protective spray on them to repel the elements. Now that it’s winter and gross and salty outside, I used a soft cloth to wipe them down, then applied a cheap shoe polishing cream to restore the beautiful black shine of the leather. So easy!

Once they were dry I sprayed them with the protectant and BAM! They look like new again! The beauty of leather is that it CAN be repaired and shined up again. If you had fake Payless shoes you definitely couldn’t do that to them.

How did this save me money? Easy. I didn’t have to buy another pair of boots, or a cheap replacement pair that wouldn’t be nearly as nice or comfortable as my high-quality boots. And I have the peace of mind knowing that I won’t need to buy new boots for a long, long time :)

These were just examples from today, but I’ve also taken to buying nicer furniture that is built to last. Some furniture polish and elbow grease can keep a nice piece beautiful for years, much better than the 2-year average lifespan of Ikea-grade stuff (I love Ikea stuff, but at some point you have to upgrade!)

Can you think of any other ideas where it pays to pay more for something? What kinds of things do you do to keep your belongings in good condition?