I continue to have a lot of practice in this area! A few successful examples recently are:
We were out of town last weekend. For part of our trip we spent a VERY rainy Sunday in Philadelphia. After touring a submarine, we were hungry! The nice man at the ticket both suggested a nearby neighborhood with lots of restaurants, so we headed that direction. Since it was so rainy we decided to let parking availability determine the restaurant we selected. After a good amount of looking, Jeremy found a nice spot in front of a billiards bar and a Chinese restaurant. Since the Chinese restaurant had a picture of a noodles and chicken dish on their sign, Joshua decided on Chinese! it was a little pricier than we would usually select for a lunch out with entrees starting around $13. But it was REALLY rainy, so we decided it was worth it. To help lower the bill, I found a entrée Joshua and I could share (noodles and chicken, of course) and I added on an appetizer for about $5. We all drank water. Still more expensive than our typical lunches out, but we managed to keep the bill down a bit by sharing and not over-ordering.
Our local Flippin' Pizza, has a great deal: 2 slices and 1 drink for $6, plus I can add on an extra slice for another $3. So for $9, Joshua and I get 3 slices and a drink, all to share. Plenty of food for the two of us!
This is a once a year deal, but Joshua and I had lunch (we both ordered full lunches and got drinks) at Cava Mezze for $1.29! This is one of the places that I regularly use their payment app and we have really gotten some good deals out of it. For every $88 we spend (which, for us, is usually about 4 trips), we get an $8 credit. Plus, you get a $9 credit on your birthday. We had an $8 credit already and my birthday credit came through and there you go! A $1.29 lunch! A COMFY present for a thrifty mom!
Duck Donuts was my birthday treat request. I did not share my donut. I will never share my donut. And, that's ok. Currently, they only cost $1.75.
Although we still eat out a lot, it is giving me the opportunity to get more skilled at saving money while doing it. I'm not sure we are coming out on the winning side of that equation, but it makes me feel better about it!
In this post, I discussed about how even though we often spend money on things that end up not really being worth it, there are times when spending money is not only OK, but encouraged. On the flip side, it is also good to use the resources you have to avoid spending money when possible. Here are a few recent examples:
We just got back from our 2nd Annual trip to Diggerland. We managed our expenses by using points for our hotel room and taking advantage of a gift card discount at Diggerland, but we still spent a decent amount of money. To see the smile on Joshua's face and experience his excitement was totally worth it. Last year, Diggerland was enough. We did not do anything else that weekend. This year we adding on a tour of a submarine and another Navy ship to satisfy another interest/curiosity of Joshua (and Jeremy). Plus, providing more excitement than we could have imagined, we had an indoor pool at our hotel! Totally worth the extra spending!
We all have bikes in our family and only recently bought a used bike rack for our car so that we could take our bikes to bike trails to ride. The jury is still out on the wiseness of this purchase. We have used the bike rack once in about 6 weeks, so I feel like we are not optimizing our (albeit greatly discounted) purchase. But, we have had an incredibly rainy spell so I'm not sure if we have not ridden our bikes because of lack of opportunity or interest. I will give it another couple of months!
Joshua's birthday is coming up. Jeremy recently got a new work computer. This left us with an "extra" personal computer. We are a pretty low-tech family, so Jeremy and I really discussed giving Joshua his own computer for his birthday. We decided to do it (sshhhh, don't tell him), with limited educational apps/games on it and no access to videos (unless we are taking a long plane trip, to China, for example!). We'll see how it goes, but since it is not costing us anything except a few $2.99 charges for apps, we are pretty hopeful! This is a great example of re-purposing an item while getting added benefit with no/low cost. Very COMFY!
I sometimes wonder if I am exploiting Joshua's desire to help and his ability to make almost anything fun, but since I never force him to do these projects, I feel I can have a clear conscience! Here are a few more jobs he has done for no cost and lots of fun:
Cleaning the (very cool and very turned off) oven. This was messy, required lots of spraying, and had a visible result. He loved it!
We recently borrowed a carpet cleaner from my mom. Joshua, who, let's just say, is not fond of the vacuum cleaner has a very surprising interest in using this machine! Grandma had very patiently explained to Joshua how the machine worked and how the operated used it. I was not part of that conversation, so I put Joshua in charge of explaining it to me. Before I knew it, he decided he should just show me how to operate it. Plus he got to pull the "trigger" to get the spray on the carpet. To avoid listening to, what he feared, would be the loud noise of the machine, he put on his trusty ear muffs and turned it on. He loved it and eventually took off his ear muffs. It wasn't "too loud."
I think we've made progress in each area; but, there is still work to be done (and cleaning to do). Stay tuned next week for an in depth look at how our grocery spending changed from March to April after I tried a few new strategies.