It can be hard to convert loved ones to our new frugal ways. They are unable to truly adopt new priorities, without being ready to change their entire attitude regarding money. While we won’t be shopping, there is no talking down the rest of them. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, those “holidays” which exist for the sole purpose of spending money, are upon us. Do everyone a favor and give some direction on what would really make good gifts for you and your family.
As with many different things, a little bit of advance planning for Halloween can keep costs down. I had been asking my children about their costumes since September in the hope of getting ahead of the game. Unfortunately, Goofball seemed to change his mind on a daily basis. I waited to buy anything out of a fear of spending money on a costume that he wouldn’t want to wear. Tornado, on the other hand, was quite consistent in telling me that she wanted to be a pink dinosaur (so she could “rawr” at everyone). There was a little hesitation, but Goofball finally agreed to also be a dinosaur too. With a few weeks left until Halloween, it was time to get into SuperMom mode. It took some effort, but with some help from Pinterest and a bit of creativity, I was able to make two really cute dinosaur costumes for less than $10.00, combined!
Goofball started attending kindergarten this month and lunch has been quite the new adventure. We shelter our kids from consumerism as much as possible. We don’t watch much television, except for football games and limited specials like the Thanksgiving parade. Instead, the kids watch old cartoons on YouTube or Disney movies. They don’t see commercials for toys or prepackaged food items. When they are exposed to things like advertisements, we explain their purpose. My children will gladly tell you all about how the commercials are “trying to get you to buy stuff.” However, there was nothing we could do to stop Goofball from being introduced to a plethora of new, expensive lunch options in the cafeteria. All of a sudden, he insisted on tagging along for grocery shopping with a long list of non-frugal requests. Continue Reading →
Everything was tinted with the iridescent gold of a setting sun. I watched a large, gauzy cloud drift by overhead as the sound of cheerful revelry provided ambiance. It was one of those rare occasions on which I actually relaxed and chatted with some neighbors while our children relished a few more minutes of summertime. One of these women caught me a bit off guard by asking, rather presumptively, “What is your cleaning schedule?”
She seemed proud to tell me about how she spends four or five hours cleaning her house every Saturday morning. At first, I felt ashamed. Was I supposed to have a schedule for cleaning the house? Am I a bad wife or mother for not having one? In spite of the self-doubt, I tried to play it off by telling her that we clean on an “as-needed basis.” Continue Reading →
We recently had our big joint birthday party for Goofball and Tornado. Money is always tight with our debt issues, but especially so this year as I’m on maternity leave from work. Now, with a few years of practice, we have pretty much perfected the frugal and fun kids’ birthday party. We were lucky to have had good weather and a nice backyard. Even so, with some extra work and by forgoing unnecessary expenses, the grand total was just over $100.
So, how did we do it? Continue Reading →
The hard work is paying off . . . we’ve started harvesting fresh vegetables from our garden. It’s a great feeling to provide your family with delicious, homegrown food without having to swipe the credit card. The first “fruit” of our labor was some crispy green beans. Then, in the past several days, ripe zucchinis started popping up all over the garden. I did some research on inventive ways to use these abundant vegetables and found an awesome treat: Zucchini Chocolate Chip Brownies.
We tried preparing the zucchini a couple of ways so far. The kids have been very reluctant to eat this vegetable, even though we’ve told them it is “just like a cucumber.” I decided to look for something different to do with my latest harvest.
Now, I’ve already admitted to a serious sweet tooth, so it’s no surprise that a dessert caught my eye while skimming through Pinterest. I went with this recipe. It took a few minutes to prepare the zucchini with a food processor (one medium zucchini yielded the two cups necessary), but otherwise baking these up was pretty easy. I substituted baking powder for the baking soda because mine seems to have disappeared. It may have made the brownies a little more cake-like, but they were still delicious!
Everyone agreed that you don’t even notice the zucchini in these brownies. Goofball devoured his, even after we told him about the “secret” ingredient. I didn’t have to buy anything to make these brownies, using what was already in my garden and cupboard, so it was a frugal treat. I know, this is not the healthiest dish. But if we’re going to have dessert anyways, why not sneak in another vegetable?
I never realized how easy it is to make your own paint! I had seen this firework art project many times on Pinterest, but didn’t want to spend money on paint. After some quick searching online this morning, we were able to throw together a fun activity with things around the house. The kids had a great, messy time (with no need to spend money).
My little Goofball just celebrated his fifth birthday. We had a great day without having to spend much money at all. I am a firm believer that children need time and attention far more than they need things or entertainment. We will have a party for him, shared with Tornado, in a few weeks. But on his actual birthday, Goofball received just one store-bought gift and a ton of love.
I started off the day by letting Goofball watch cartoons during breakfast (a special treat in our house). Then, he got to open his present. He was overjoyed to receive the one thing that he wanted: a Bumblebee Transformer. We don’t have cable, so he never sees commercials for toys. The only time he is exposed to a vast selection of new playthings is when he’s with other children or in the store. It’s quite a blessing that he seems content with his small collection of toys, which includes hand-me-downs from Daddy (matchbox cars and Ninja Turtles are timeless). And of course, this sweet little boy will always be happy to play outside with sticks and rocks.
We ate Goofball’s favorite for lunch – English muffin pizzas. He has so much fun making the food himself – it’s more than a meal, it’s an activity. These mini-pizzas were inexpensive, just the cost of the muffins, tomato sauce, and some mozzarella cheese.
Grandpa made a special dinner for the birthday boy. It included tator tots and corn on the cob, at the request of Goofball. We sang to him and he ate up his homemade birthday cake. A five-year old does not need an expensive, store-bought cake when we can make our own for under five dollars.
Goofball played outside with friends and was allowed to stay up late. To be honest, he was going to stay up late anyways because we are in the middle of redoing his bedroom. Goofball has been sleeping in his sister’s room and their antics continue far past “lights out.” He knows that the new room is partially a birthday present and partially a reward for agreeing to share his room with the baby. I can’t wait to finish his patriotic room; it’s really starting to look awesome.
I know that Goofball had a good birthday, even though he only received one present. Before going to bed he told me that he wanted the next day to be his birthday again. I have many friends with young children. They all seem to lament their children’s birthdays with that all too common phrase, “where did the time go?” However, I don’t feel that way. It feels like a very full five years has passed since we met our first-born son. I know exactly where the time has gone . . . to fun-filled adventures, countless hours of reading books, engaging mealtimes, secretly watching him imagine and create, hilarious conversations, and precious snuggling.
Happy Birthday Goofball – I love you to Andromeda and back.
It’s that time of year again. I need to start planning Goofball and Tornado’s birthday party. Their birthdays are about one month apart so we have one party right in the middle. Combining the two celebrations is just one way that we save money on birthdays. We did a great job throwing a frugal party last year. With a little bit of planning, I’m hopeful that we can cut even more costs this year and keep it super fun!
Most of our birthday-party frugality was far from revolutionary. The venue, our backyard, was free. We prepared food instead of ordering it. There weren’t many decorations. We didn’t rent a bounce house or a pony. There was no clown or magician. One thing we did have was super-cheap entertainment that kept the kids occupied for a long time and provided them with well-earned party favors. It was the
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update on our progress and plans. We’ve been having a lot of frugal family fun and working hard towards achieving our goals. Some of our money-saving strategies required time and preparation, but we’re finally seeing results from our diligence.
Maternity leave has been incredible. I feel so very blessed to have this much time to spend with my family. While we’re happily taking advantage of this opportunity, it also provides us with motivation to keep doing all that we can to defeat our debt. Only then will we be able to enjoy time together like this on a permanent basis. I strive to be as productive as possible each and every day so we can go on that cross-country road trip as a family once we reach financial semi-independence. We have completely changed our attitude about money; before we were reckless and now, we’re excited about the challenge to find new and inventive ways to be frugal. I guess that’s why this post is focused on one thing . . .