[An update in the No Spend Summer Challenge series, in which I document black-belt frugal tactics I employ to save for a down payment on a home. To assist the unaccustomed, an asterisk * appears next to frugal activities.]
A Day in the Life of a Frugal Lady
5:30 – The alarm goes off. I throw off my *pink thrifted duvet cover and get dressed in the clothes I laid out in the bathroom the night before (so as not to wake my family while shuffling through drawers. Oh who am I kidding. I like to pick out my clothes the night before regardless).
I don my new *thrifted pink J. Crew skirt. It takes 30 seconds and zero product to fix my *short greying hair. I apply *hacked lipstick, BB cream (replaces moisturizer, sunscreen and foundation) and *mascara (bought for pennies after coupon).
I grab my breakfast (a blueberry muffin-in-a-mug I *prepared the night before so as not to be tempted by expensive coffee shop treats) and head out the door to Starbucks, where I go every morning, M-S, to write before the household wakes.
I buy a *short coffee ($2) (not a 7,000 calorie $5 caffeinated sugar bomb). I know, buying your coffee is not particularly frugal. However, being a mom of 7 means this is the only way I can get my writing done. I’m *earning money and *keeping myself sane, and *splitting shifts with my husband so as to avoid child-care costs. Frugal lady has to blog!
I could sit here and enjoy the free wi-fi without purchasing, but I have seen loiterers escorted off the property and I don’t want to be lumped in with that lot. Frugality *doesn’t mean being tacky.
Before I leave, I avail myself of a *free refill, which I will take back to my 15-year-old son as thanks for *helping with the baby.
Back home, I sit down to *breastfeed the baby. I read to the younger kids. One book was given to me *by a friend, another bought with an educator/homeschooling parent *discount at Barnes and Noble.
I cook gluten-free pancakes for the kids from a mix bought at *ALDI, who has the cheapest and yummiest GF food anywhere. While the kids eat I explain to the 6-year-old again why she isn’t allowed to pour her own maple syrup.
“Because you pour way too much, and there is always a half cup of syrup left on your plate after you’re finished. That’s like taking a quarter and throwing out the window while we’re driving down the road. Would you do that?”
She now refuses to eat due to the injustice of it all. I say, “Suit yourself. Julien, come eat Ruby’s pancakes, she doesn’t want them.”
She quickly commences eating.
*Teaching kids about the value of a dollar and being authoritative so they don’t have an attitude of entitlement does the world a favor.
Print out Ruby’s math and art worksheets *free from DiscoveryK12. Write down her story narration. Victoria plays a *free pre-K phonics game from Starfall.com.
Change the baby’s *cloth diaper on the *free changing table (bathroom counter with a thick folded towel on top).
9:53 – Frugal lady must have second breakfast. I throw a *whole orange, 1/2 cup *cottage cheese (cheap protein), a bit of orange oil, *stevia (staying at a healthy weight is frugal, and whole foods are generally cheaper than pre-packaged junk) and ice in a blender for a “Creamsicle” shake.
Mail arrives. Instantly *toss the credit card offer. Hubby got several checks in the mail. Ah, *self-employment. When one is an employee, they are being bought at wholesale and sold at retail.
I look down at my skirt and notice it’s covered with dirty baby foot prints and butter. A ball careens across the room, knocking down my Creamsicle shake. I clean up the mess and note that this is why *I will never pay retail for anything while little bodies inhabit my house.
11:32 – Lunch. From two half-eaten rescued apples I perform *Leftover Wizardry and make a delicious apple-cinnamon oat muffin. The kids eat cheese quesadillas with mango (*on sale for .39 each!).
We head outside to see the *yard work Julien has performed. He tells me of his plans to *fix up all the bikes so we can take them in tip-top shape to our October vacation. Yes, kids are expensive, but they’re also talented, smart, energetic workers who can be
exploited I mean deployed for their labors.
Lost in thought *enjoying watching the little kids play outside, *not with store-bought toys, but with leaves and branches they were building into a “clubhouse”, I let the *leftover pork chop I was warming for lunch burn a little. Oops. I *forgive myself.
Start a load of laundry, in *cold water, using the detergent I *procured for pennies on the dollar, careful to *pour it only up to *the “1” line in the cap. My washing machine, purchased *used, has been *repaired twice by industrious teenage sons.
Vacuum. Remember fondly that my sons and I have taken this vacuum apart more than once to *unclog it, easily done with the help of instruction videos online.
A friend stops by to pick up Ruby so she can play with her son at the *park. We have *exchanged babysitting a few times.
My friend picks up her two little ones so we head out to run errands. I pick up a book reserved for me at the *library, then to WalMart for things Julien needs to *repair our bikes. We stop by the *dollar store to get packing tape (they have the *best price around) for Julien’s *eBay business and my *eBay/Amazon/PaperbackSwap/BookMooch sales and swaps. I also grab oxygen cleaner, the *store brand works great and is cheaper than OxyClean.
Head out for a quick *bike ride around the neighborhood with Julien. Feel great about *keeping fit without spending money while also spending quality time with my son. He has a minor accident and is banged up and bleeding. We run to urgent care to have him looked over. Remind myself that keeping *health insurance is a smart choice, since the majority of bankruptcies in this country are due to overwhelming medical debt.
Take a moment to reflect on my choices. While choosing to be a stay-at-home-mom has meant sacrifice and even some risk for me, spending time with my children is my most favorite activity in the world and nurturing my relationship with them will pay lifelong dividends – for me, for them, and for society.
3:51 – Le goûter. There is *leftover (cold) coffee in the pot, so I use it to whip up an iced coffee instead of brewing more, and have a few nuts and dark chocolate (*ALDI has wonderful, inexpensive chocolate). Ruby, per Doc’s orders, is supposed to be drinking more milk, but she’s not a big fan. I *pour milk into an empty jelly jar, shake vigorously, and present “strawberry milk” with great panache. Frugal lady win!
A *$10 off coupon for Kohl’s came in the mail. I buy a pair of shorts and a t-shirt for the baby, 3.99 each, then *ask the cashier if there’s anything in the store that costs just over $2. He tells me I don’t have to spend all $10, so I check out without spending a penny out of pocket. He adjusts the coupon so that it has a credit!
Time to *cook dinner from *scratch. We’re having blackened chicken with sauteed vegetables, *rice and beans.
My evening is spent reading and sipping *homemade hot chocolate while hubby bathes the little ones and spends time with them.
9:00 – Bedtime. *Brush and *floss teeth, remove my makeup with *ALDI cleanser, and apply moisturizer (purchased with a *credit from Grove).
Okay, I admit it. If this day seemed a little, um, FULL, it’s because this post was a mashup of three days for maximum impact.
Often, the frugal life consists of actions you don’t take. I didn’t shop for pleasure or recreation. When I did step foot in a store, I only bought things I needed and didn’t get distracted with other stuff. I didn’t go out to eat. I exercised patience and waited for things, trying to be content in the meantime.
Other times, frugality involves action. Searching for a coupon or good deal on a needed purchase. Cooking from scratch. Researching ways to lower your monthly bills. Doing-it-yourself instead of hiring someone else to do work. Etc.
What does a frugal day in your life look like?