Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Month: February 2014

Date Night Deals

If you are trying to live a frugal life, dating can be the worst.

Especially when you’re married and want to keep the magic alive, it’s hard to have a limited amount of funds to spend with your sweetie. I’ve (recently) taken this as another chance to get creative and find ways to save money and still have fun.

Before I share some of our date night ideas, I will admit that Fred and I are still working on this. We’re still learning how to date on a budget and still have fun. We have a little date night envelope where we give ourselves $50/month to spend. That’s only $12.50/week, which doesn’t leave us a lot of options, so we’ve done some trial and error to find out what’s worth spending money on and what we enjoy doing on dates.

Our normal date night is Tuesday night, so here are some fun deals that we’ve found for this night of the week:

1. Menchie’s

On Tuesday nights, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt has a buy one get one free (in the Langley stores, you need to check your local Menchie’s to see what nights they have BOGO). So tasty and affordable!

2. The Clova

This is our local “cheap” theatre. On Tuesday nights tickets are only $5 and you can buy popcorn for $2.50 if you bring your own container. We’ve had so much fun seeing some movies that we like or movies that we wouldn’t have considered seeing at full price. (The best week was “Frozen” and “Catching Fire” on a $5 ticket night! #boom)

Most cities have a cheap theatre or a drive-in, so do a bit of research to find out what fun little family place you can find! (At The Clova the owner sometimes tells jokes before the movie – what could be more fun than that?)

3. Half-price at Colossus

For those of you in the lower mainland, Colossus offers half-price admission on Tuesdays.

This is great option for us because we don’t have $24 for both of us to be admitted to a movie, but we do have $14.50 ($7.25 each). Our theatre doesn’t offer matinees, so it’s out of luck for us if we want a more frugal option for ticket prices – that’s why this Tuesday thing is great! We can go to the “real theatre” without breaking the bank.

Here are some frugal ideas that work any night of the week.

4. Little Caesar’s Pizza

Sometimes you just want to order a pizza and have a night at home, but this can also be pricy. Our favourite is to get a pepperoni pizza and crazy bread for less than $10. Score!

We usually pair this with an evening in where we watch a movie and just spend time together. (Bonus: It’s also great because it means that I don’t have to cook dinner those nights!)

5. Picnics

Sounds cheesy, but this is actually a really fun date night. You can have a picnic in your living room for a more solitary date night, or you can find a nice park or beach to have sandwiches (or leftovers) and spend some time together talking.

This can be simple (sandwiches at the park) or more planned and romantic (chocolate-covered strawberries, music, candles, and a little note or gift for your significant other). It’s up to you!

6. Groupon Deals

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Some of you have likely used Groupon to find some savings (if not, you should check it out). This isn’t always the best way to find deals, but sometimes you stumble upon something fun. One time we went to a corn maze/petting zoo/got a pumpkin for $10 at a local farm. Really fun day for us! (See pic to the left)

Other fun things you can find are coupons to restaurants you wouldn’t normally try or events that you might not consider going to unless you have a coupon. This is a fun way to explore some options in your city without paying full price! Just make sure to read the fine print before you buy any vouchers.

Sometimes, like tonight, we don’t do anything out of the ordinary and just stay home and spend time together (this week we’re both sick). It’s good for me to remember that dating (especially when you’re married) isn’t about how much money you spend or what you do, but it’s about getting to know someone better and spending quality time with them on a regular basis. 

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your date night deals or frugal date ideas? Leave a reply below!

Disclaimer: None of these companies or products paid or compensated me at all. I’m just sharing my favourite date night places and deals and added links for your convenience. 

These are a few of my Favourite Freebies

As someone who is living on a budget, I will admit that I love free things.

Yep, from free samples to free food to free entertainment, I’m a sucker for them all. However, I’ve learned that not all free things are good. Let me give you some examples:

Free puppy: So cute at first, but in the end, not free. You’ll end up spending a ton of money even though the initial cost was “free.”

Free samples at the store: Good – unless you get hooked on the product (which are always name-brand and usually convenience products, which are more expensive).

Free cookie on the side of the road: Probably a bad idea if you don’t know the person giving them away.

Free book: Usually a good idea – it’s always nice to have books, and you can give it away when you’re done if it’s not a keeper.

In this day and age we have a ton of free things, but also a ton of things that require a purchase. You can find some awesome free resources if you do some digging (but remember, not all free things are worth it).

Here are some free things I personally use and would recommend to those living a frugal life:

1. Google call

I’m not actually sure what it’s called, but if you have a Gmail account you can make free calls to any landline in North America from your computer. This is great for calling businesses or family members who still have landlines (like my parents who like phone calls better than Skype). This can help you save some minutes (and money!) on your cell phone plan. If you don’t have a Gmail account, the good news is it’s also free to sign up for one!

2. Grooveshark

For those of you who enjoy listening to music but can’t afford to buy it, Grooveshark is great. As long as you have internet, you can listen to most music that’s out there. I’ve really been enjoying listening to the “Frozen” soundtrack lately!

3. Pinterest

Now, I know that some of you have probably used this for a while, but I just discovered this gem last year. It’s chock-full collection of recipes, ideas, blogs, and helpful tips. You can then “pin” (save) posts you like to different “boards” (digital filing cabinets) for later when you need a recipe or a craft idea.

It’s a great way to find a fun new recipe or craft idea, and they are usually pretty frugal. For those of you who aren’t on it, I would recommend you give it a try.

4. YouTube

Again, I know this has been out for a while, but my favourite thing about YouTube is that you can watch full seasons of shows for free! Some of my faves from my childhood are Sister Sister and Boy Meets World. A new fave that I would recommend is Freaks and Geeks. (It’s also completely legal since YouTube is public and monitored for copyright infringement.)

Sometimes you have to dig for a little bit, but you can find hours of free entertainment. Such a great alternative to buying boxed sets!

5. McDonald’s Coffee

Photo 2-21-2014, 5 17 16 PM

2-3 glorious times a year, McDonald’s offers free (small) coffee for a whole week. It’s true – and it starts on Monday! 

Unlike many “free” promotions, this is actually free. Of course, I know that this is a marketing technique where you change your morning routine to come in and get coffee at McDonald’s or pick up a muffin or other food with your free coffee. Does this technique work on me? NO WAY.

Fred and I go 1-2 times a day during this week, savouring the free goodness that is McDonald’s coffee, then when the promotion is over, we stop going.

A note for all of you coffee snobs, MD serves Seattle’s Best coffee, which is owned by Starbucks, so the quality is decent. Hope you get a chance to pick up a few freebies this week!

*NOTE: These promotion dates are only good in Canada – the U.S. has these free coffee promotions, but they are different weeks of the year.* 

So now it’s your turn – what are some of your favourite free things? Leave me a comment below!

Disclaimer: None of these companies or products paid or compensated me at all. I’m just sharing my favourite free things and added links for your convenience. 

Singing in the Rain

Rain is inevitable.

For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, we know this all too well. However, today I’m not talking about weather, I’m talking about life.

In life, there will eventually be some kind of “rain” (rough patch, emergency, whatever you want to call it). The older generation talks about having a “rainy day fund” for such occasions and most people would call this an “emergency fund.” As advised by Dave Ramsey, we personally keep $1,000 in the bank in case of an emergency. Usually for us, this means when we have to do emergency fixes on our car(s).

5 months ago we decided to purchase a second car so I could substitute teach with more ease. We paid a few hundred dollars and and put a lot of work into it. It’s been running fine, and then this week, I tried to back it out of the driveway and it was like someone pulled the emergency brake. I couldn’t move it without a horrible scraping noise.

Car Bill #2

I called a tow truck and took it to our mechanic, and he found that the back brakes needed to be replaced, along with our leaking struts. When all was said and done, we had a bill of $1,562.04. 

In the past, this number would have floored me. A few months into our marriage we realized we needed new tires for our car. The estimate was a few hundred dollars. I curled up in a ball in the car and cried because our credit card was maxed out and I knew we couldn’t afford it.

Now, because we have our savings, this was more of an inconvenience than a financial (and emotional) emergency. We happened to have this amount in a savings account that we had started for the summer (when our pay schedule changes), so we used that to pay the bill.

I picked up the car (yesterday) and was driving home when all of the sudden I noticed that the battery light was on. I don’t know a lot about cars, but from previous experience, I know that when the battery light comes on you pull over because your car is going to die. Sure enough, I pulled over and the car promptly died.

I called our mechanic again and he towed the car to his shop. This morning he called me and said along with the alternator being dead, he also needed to replace the water pump and timing belt. This would be another $900. I took a deep breath and after consulting my husband, told him to go ahead with the work.

I’ve been reflecting on this experience and the weird thing is that I’ve been very emotionally neutral through it all. It’s been so life-changing for us to have some money in the bank so that when these unexpected (but really expected, we just don’t know what they’ll be) things happen, we can take care of it instead of freaking out.

Car bill #1

So, this is my exhortation to all of you who are trying to be frugal: don’t scrimp on the savings. Sure you need to spend money on food, debt, rent and other things, but you should always have a little bit in the bank for when the inevitable happens.

If you take the initiative and make a rainy day fund, when the rain hits, you can pull out your umbrella and sing instead of curling up in a ball and crying. 

What’s your personal philosophy for savings/emergency funds?

Leave me a comment below!

Getting to know Mrs. Frugality

I figure that the first step in starting this blog is to share more about how I arrived at the conclusion that I should live frugally. If you already know me, this may be old news. Feel free to skim. Here we go…

I went to a private university for 5 years, and in that time, I took out close to $25,000 in student loans to fund my education. I married my husband Fred a month after we graduated. He brought around $70,000 of debt into our lives (he went to the same university). Between the two of us we had almost $100,000 of debt, 4 university degrees, and no money. 

We had 6 months of grace before we had to start repaying our loans, and neither of us had jobs. Our first summer was rough – we did some odd jobs that kept food in our fridge (barely) and spent a lot of time playing Settlers of Catan to fill our time.

Fred got offered a part-time teaching job a week before school started, which he took (after all, some money is better than no money) and I spent a lot of time at home, thinking about what kind of work was right for me in that season. Being a person of faith, through prayer I came to the conclusion that I was being led into non-profit work, which required raising funds for my salary.

I didn’t receive a pay cheque until almost our first anniversary, and I had become very comfortable working in the home and saving money. I learned a lot that year about budgeting and what not to do, along with frugal ways to cook, clean, and manage a house.

Some of the things I do to keep up my house have changed since then. We now make more money and have been paying on our loans for 3 years now. We’re less in debt than we used to be, but we’re still working hard to become debt-free.

Part of our inspiration to get out of debt has been Dave Ramsey and his principles of “living like no one else so later you can live (and give) like no one else.” I listen to his radio show when I’m cooking or cleaning to remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. I really believe that being out of debt will enable us to live a life that is more stable and generous.

For us, this journey to live frugally to get out of debt will last for a few more years, which is why I have started this blog. I know that I have many years of frugality ahead of me, and that writing about it will keep me inspired and enthusiastic about what we’re doing.

So we’ve arrived to the birth of this blog.

Some of you may have different stories, but I really believe there is something here for everyone: for the student, the single working professional, the young housewife, and the stay-at-home parent. I’m excited to share some of the things that I’ve learned along my journey, and get to know others in the process.

Feel free to leave a comment to tell me more about your story and your reason for living a frugal life! I’d love to hear other people’s stories because after all, we’re not on this journey alone.

Until next time, friends.

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Fred and I on our wedding day – blissfully unaware of what was to come

(Photo credit: Pia Baerg)

Just another blog?

I’ve contemplated starting a blog for months. I enjoy reading what others are learning, and feel that I too have something to contribute. I thought of a name and a theme for what I wanted to share with the world.

Then I got stuck. I felt overwhelmed.

Does the internet really need another blog that talks about money-saving tips? What do I have to say that’s really new?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few things to say.

Here are some things you should know about me:

1.  I am not a mom.

I am not saving money to buy new shoes for Susie (although I totally admire money-saving moms). My husband and I are on a budget because of student loan debt, and we’re trying to figure out how to make the most of life while having a limited amount of cash to spend.

2.  I do follow Dave Ramsey’s plan.

Some of you have maybe heard of Dave Ramsey. I’m not into idol worship, but I deeply respect and admire this man who has helped people get on track with their money and change their lives. His principles have changed the way we view money. So, be prepared, I may mention him from time to time.

3. I appreciate and want to share helpful things.

Sometimes on Pinterest I see something like “easy meal plan” and then when I look at the ingredients and the directions I think “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” and “Since when do I keep [this ingredient] and [that ridiculous thing] on hand?”

I buy essentials at the grocery store and I work a part-time job, substitute teach, volunteer with a non-profit, and am a housewife. I need something affordable and easy that will fit in with my lifestyle. My goal is to provide money-saving ideas and tips, along with delicious recipes, that people can actually make without having to run to the store to buy some specific ingredient.

With all that being said, I hope you’ll come back and visit as I start to share. I’m certainly no expert on saving money, but I have learned a thing or two as we’ve had this frugal lifestyle for almost 4 years.

My goal is to save money but not skimp on the life experiences. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you’re poor.

I look forward to sharing more with you all in the future.

Stay classy! 

Beth

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My husband and I on a fun, frugal date – a corn maze and petting zoo day!

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