I’ve hinted at my efforts to take advantage of credit card bonus offers, aka “churning” before. This isn’t a new account, but it offers cash back bonuses all the time, not just for new customers.
Here’s a recent redemption from my CapitalOne Quicksilver card. I use credit cards to pay my bills, pay them before the due date so I don’t incur interest, and enjoy free money.
$127.56 cash back for doing literally nothing?
Please and thank you.
When I make a purchase at Walmart, which is often, since I have a Walmart+ account and get free shipping and free pickup (with no upcharge on groceries, unlike Instacart), sometimes they offer me a coupon for writing a review.
It takes under a minute to write my honest thoughts on a product, and $3 pays for the half price fancy Starbucks drink I bought with my 20 year old daughter today.
When they have BOGO fall drinks each year, we have a ritual of indulging. I would never pay $6 for a coffee otherwise!
Fancy coffee isn’t very frugal, but making my daughter happy is priceless, and since relationships are my #1 value, it’s ok for my spending to reflect that.
Speaking of making my daughter happy, she’d been asking me to buy a treadmill.
In 2021, I had a gym membership and I went there faithfully three times a week to lift weights. The cost was around $150 annually, which is a great deal, but I didn’t renew it because the location wasn’t convenient once we moved.
And convenience is everything when it comes to habits. I know I won’t visit a gym consistently if it isn’t on a route I frequent.
I like going for walks every day, and so does my daughter, but many days this summer it’s been nearly 100F in our area.
She doesn’t tolerate the heat well. And in a few months, I’ll wimp out when it turns cold and rainy.
Knowing thyself is also crucial when creating/maintaining habits!
So I decided that a treadmill would be a good investment. Both of us exercise daily, mostly for our mental health.
Facebook Marketplace is my go-to for items like this.
We picked up a treadmill in great condition for $75, which is half the annual price of my old gym membership, and far more convenient.
I find that I do good things more when they’re easier and the path has less resistance.
Unfortunately, when I helped my son and daughter move the treadmill out of my van, I felt a familiar pulling sensation followed by a thud of pain in my lower back. I’d injured my back once before when doing a similar move, lifting something low to the ground, so I knew instantly what had happened.
I couldn’t stand up straight, walk or twist without pain. Once we got the treadmill into the house I got into bed, flat on my back and arranged a virtual doctor visit. (Wow is tele-health a great invention. In less than an hour I was able to talk with a doctor, get a prescription and medical advice. I’m very thankful for this!)
It’s at this point I start to spiral a little bit.
Feelings of guilt and shame came up. Since getting my anxiety under control, it appears that depression has popped up in its place.
“It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.”
Like a game of whack-a-mole, the depression was already there, but anxiety felt more urgent and inmyface, so it took center stage for a while.
I used the same strategy to deal with these feelings that I use for anxiety: I allow myself to feel them, and I journal about it.
I wrote all the reasons my guilt is inappropriate, a result of my upbringing in a doomsday cult where no matter what, I was never good enough. Where suffering was the result of a weakness on my part, where there was no accountability for abusers.
Note: Most of the time, mindfulness means allowing yourself to feel your feelings without analyzing them or thinking them away. But in this case, my train of thought was from nasty lies I was indoctrinated from babyhood to believe, so fighting it was the right course.
Yesterday I decided to bake bread.
Here’s a lump of dough waiting to go into my oven after it rises.
Making homemade bread isn’t always a frugal activity, but the taste and nutrition is so much better!
I used to live close to a bakery, where I’d buy fresh loaves of honey whole wheat bread. They’re so dense, I can only eat one slice.
The finished loaf- delicious! I had two slices with butter for lunch.
But since moving to the new house, that location isn’t convenient (there’s that word again!) so I’m making my own. And since the loaves I’d buy were $7.99 each, making my own will save me some dough (sorry, couldn’t help myself!).
I bought a membership instead of one-off tickets.
For a large family, buying a membership to a favorite local destination is the way to go.
There’s a beautiful garden near my home. It has a bonsai garden, butterfly house, trails, ponds with fish, benches to sit and “forest bathe”, and art.
I took the kids last weekend. To go once would have cost $45. An annual pass was $75. Pretty easy decision.
And now I have a place to visit (5 days a week if I wish!) where I can take a walk, look at lovely flowers and trees, journal or read or just sit and be.
I love having a go-to destination for eliminating decision fatigue as well. Since the art installations (and seasonal plants) change, there’s always something new to see.
What are some frugal activities you’ve been up to? And how do you nurture your mental health? (Sorry-not-sorry for the digression, because mental health is so important!)