6 Frugal Wins & 2 Frugal Fails – Sep 20

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Can you believe we have roughly three more months until the end of 2017?

I am not ready to get older, but I am excited about all the holidays that are coming up: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

I didn’t grow up celebrating most of those holidays (maybe with the exception of the New Year’s).

Yet, I’m ready for some festivity, office parties, and days off with family.

Together with the holidays comes the need to spend money on good food, gifts, decorations, and all the beautiful things in life.

However, before we enjoy the pumpkin candy of Halloween, let’s review the frugal wins and fails we had at the FAF household as of September 20.

6 Frugal wins

1. Not go on a vacation in the summer

Mr. FAF and I love our home maybe a little too much. Oftentimes we would have a great time planning our trips at a camping site or to the beach.

We were determined to make that happen after planning for years.

However, whenever the weekends rolled around, Mr. FAF and I would let our travel laziness get in the way.

Mr. FAF would end up working on his code and hanging out with his friends. I would start blogging away while watching Baby FAF at home.

Before the end of the summer when the opportunity to visit the beach and eat seafood was fading away, I came up with a new idea: dimsum.

On a peaceful Saturday morning, we got in the car and drove 10 minutes to a nearby dimsum restaurant. The food was tasty and about 2/3 of the prices at other dimsum places in the area. We closed our summer with dimsum and went home to take a nap afterwards.

Overall, this might not be 100% a frugal win since we didn’t get to see the beach together as a family. But as long as we can spend time together and have fun, any kind of trip, whether it’s 10 minutes or 5 hours away from home, will suffice.

The first few dishes of our dimsum feast

2. We pack lunch to work every day

Mr. FAF started his new job in the DC area in August. Unlike some big tech giants that provide delicacies at no cost to their employees, Mr. FAF’s employer only offers free soda, tea, coffee, and instant noodles.

Not wanting to spend money on expensive lunches, Mr. FAF brings food from home every day. After dinner, I will pack three lunch portions for Mr. FAF, Baby FAF, and myself. My mother-in-law usually cooks something simple for herself for lunch the next day or finish dinner leftovers like us.

Fun fact: In the beginning, Mr. FAF told me he didn’t need a lunch bag. He just carried his lunch box in colorful grocery plastic bags.

I think he might have gotten some stares from his colleagues. A couple of days later, he came home with a brand-new $9 lunch bag from Target. The pressure from our colleagues can be truly transformational.

Packed lunch for the family

3. Hand-me-down clothes for Baby FAF

It is getting colder in DC. Baby FAF just came back to DC from China about three months ago and don’t have a lot of winter clothes.

Now that Mr. FAF has a job, I thought about getting some new winter clothes for Baby FAF (i.e. pajamas, a winter jacket, jeans). Part of me feels bad that our son always has to wear old clothes that already show a lot of color fading.

However, after our neighbor mentioned a huge consignment sale near our house, I just couldn’t pass on this great opportunity. Our family got in the car to check out what treasure we could find at the sale.

We got there about an hour before it was supposed to close. But I managed to find a lot of great quality boy clothes for Baby FAF. We got a snowsuit for $12 that I am sure would retail for at least $50 at the store. We also got an LLB Bean jacket for $12. In total, I spent $44 for 14 items.

Hand-me-down clothes displayed on a free couch

4. Switching from http to https for free

After reading that Sam at Financial Samurai and Michelle at Making Sense of Cents switched their blog from http to https for website security, I got intrigued.

In fact, I got worried. I couldn’t stop wondering what would happen to my blog if I didn’t do the same. Will someone steal my site information? Will my website crash all of a sudden one day?

That day I came home from work and started quizzing Mr. FAF on http and https. Contrary to my expectations, he knew what they were although he didn’t know how to make the switch.

With some flattery and nagging, I successfully got Mr. FAF to agree to help me with the project. I’m not sure if it was because he wanted a boost to his ego or if he wanted to save money (I told him I’d hire a pro if he didn’t help me). But Mr. FAF fulfilled his promise.

Now my site is marked as secure and hopefully won’t be penalized by Google for a low level of security. I’m not sure how much it would cost me if I had hired an expert. But I have a feeling it wouldn’t be less than $100 which was my budget for this project.

You’ve probably seen me complain about how Mr. FAF is not involved with my blog whether it’s reading, writing, or editing. But this time, he really helped me save some serious cash.

5. Mr. FAF’s new phone

Mr. FAF bought a Google Nexus cell phone a year and a half ago. His phone has been acting up to the point where it got so heated that Mr. FAF had to put it in the fridge for it to cool.

One day it just stopped working altogether. Mr. FAF used his mom’s phone for about a month until he got his first paycheck.

After getting paid, Mr. FAF decided to upgrade his cell phone to an unlocked Apple iPhone 6 (64GB) which he got from Amazon for $409.

After a day of excitement, he gradually realized that the phone might be a counterfeit item since the earphones didn’t work and the phone started to have issues from day one. Mr. FAF has been waiting for years to get an iPhone, so it was a blow to his euphoria. We returned the phone for a refund immediately.

A brand-new Iphone 7 would cost more than $800, which was way beyond Mr. FAF’s budget for a new cell phone. He eventually decided to make a quick trip to Best Buy to get a $250 unlocked cell phone instead.

The brand is Honor. I honestly had never heard of that brand before. Mr. FAF said it’s a Chinese company and would be happy if it could last for a year.

I insisted he get a better phone to make it last longer, but he refused, saying he didn’t want to spend too much on a phone. I finally gave in.

6. Cheap work lunch

Last Thursday, we were running low on dinner leftovers to pack for lunch the next day. I prepared enough food for Mr. FAF and Baby FAF, but there wasn’t enough for me.

I thought about packing rice, boiled eggs, and some canned beans like what I used to eat when I was still on a diet. But I was also tired of eating the same food every day.

Not wanting to eat out, I decided to have canned soup and instant noodles for lunch at work the next day. We got the canned soup from a friend who was moving away. It had been sitting in our pantry for months since we usually make fresh soup at home (the expiration date was 2018).

I was a bit excited for a change of lunch that day. Although it wasn’t as good as homemade food, I still enjoyed it a great deal.

Canned soup, instant noodles, and water for lunch

2 Frugal fails

1. Mandarins from Costco

Mr. FAF and I went to Costco on a Friday night both as a date and a grocery shopping trip. I was so excited to see some sweet mandarins at the fruit aisle and got a bag for $7.99.

The next day after dinner, I wanted to have some fresh fruit but couldn’t find the mandarins anywhere. I must have spent 30 minutes looking for them in every nook and cranny.

Lots of thoughts ran through my mind during the search. Maybe I was forgetful and still left them in the trunk. Maybe my MIL put them away somewhere. Maybe Mr. FAF took them to work. Maybe Baby FAF put them in his toy box.

Out of desperation, I checked the photo I took of the Costco groceries on Friday. It turned out that I had forgotten to pick up those mandarins from the shopping cart.

I sincerely hoped that someone would take them home instead of throwing those delicious mandarins away. I died a little inside thinking I had left $7.99 at Costco and would never see it again.

2. Eating out after grocery shopping

Our whole family often go grocery shopping on Saturday morning. When we are finished, it’s usually almost noon time. We always go back and forth between making something quick to eat at home and eating out.

Last Saturday, we gave in to temptation and went back to the dimsum restaurant we had visited just two weeks before to celebrate the end of the summer.

My mother-in-law (MIL) wanted a break from cooking the whole week. I suggested we go home and eat some leftovers together with some food I could make quickly.

However, Mr. FAF wanted to go out for a change. We paid $40 for three people and one toddler, which is relatively cheap for a dimsum in DC.

But thinking about the fact that we spent $80 on two meals in September pained me a little. We got a lot of veggies and meat that day that could last us two weeks for only $124.

We have come up with a frugal solution. Next time Mr. FAF and my MIL will go grocery shopping while I stay with home with Baby FAF and cook lunch for the family. Hopefully, we will eliminate these last minute eating out expenses.


We had 6 frugal wins and only 2 frugal fails, so I consider it to be a big win. After Mr. FAF started working, I was afraid that we would suffer life-style inflation and start buying a lot of expensive things. We did buy a brand-new laptop for me and a new cell phone for Mr. FAF.

But overall, those are necessary and one-time purchases. We still maintain our frugal lifestyle. And it just makes me so happy whenever I realized that we have made a frugal win in our lives.



Frugal Wins & Frugal Fails series

Eating Out & Home-cooked Meals – The Dilemma 

How I Lost 36 Lbs With A Cheaper Diet

How Blogging Has Affected My Marriage


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21 thoughts on “6 Frugal Wins & 2 Frugal Fails – Sep 20”

  • Think of those mandarins as a little dose of good karma that you put out to the world! I understand the frustration though, I would be super irritated.
    I also find that after a big grocery shopping trip we don’t feel like dealing with cooking and are very tempted to go out. Sometimes we buy a bag of jalapeño kettle chips to snack on while we drive home, put our groceries away and figure out our next meal. This is a nice treat and much cheaper than eating out.

    • That’s a great idea! Usually we don’t buy chips, but maybe next time we can get something cheap to eat on the way or bring something from home. Thanks for the suggestion! 🙂

  • Bringing lunch to work can save you quite a bit of money. I did that for quite a few years, then I stopped. After eating out at lunch for a few months, I started to get tire of the take out food and the euphoria of eating out diminished day after day.

    Now, I am trying to balance eating out and bringing lunch. Such a simple thing in life, but if things are imbalanced, It’s hard to be motivated to do your best and enjoy what you have.

    • Mr. FAF told me the same thing about eating out! He got tired of it after a while and started craving home-made food. It’s great to have a balance though because too much of anything can get boring hehe.

  • Mr99to1percent did the switching to https too and a lot other complicated technical stuff. I’m glad we don’t have to pay for someone to do it ?. Glad to hear MrFAF helped out with the project. It means you were able to have more time to concentrate on what you do best which is dishing out some great posts that we all benefit from. Big thanks to MrFAF on behalf of the blogging community ???

  • Man I’m getting nervous about not having made the https switch yet! Guess I need to look into that.

    I pack a lunch h for my husband everyday, but since he loves going out w friends for lunch, he uses his fun budget and does that all he wants. I still consider it a frugal win, since it doesn’t come out of the family food budget. Plus, it makes lunches go further since he still has the one I made him for the next day.

    I have got to plan a frugal win and fail post! I say that every time and haven’t yet ?

    PS. I’ve totally left something in the buggy too . It’s so frustrating!!

    • It’d be great to see your frugal win and fail post! I know some other bloggers have it too, and it’s just so enjoyable to read hehe. It’s so nice you and your hubby have an agreement on eating out. It def helps prevent a lot of the tension that Mr. FAF and I have.

  • Your mandarin story made me smile a little 🙂 I’m really sorry you literally lost them! But your story actually reminded me of something that happened recently.
    A couple days ago, I was running an errand and had to wait in line. The first guy in line finished, told the desk clerk “goodbye” and left. But he forgot his wallet on the counter!! Good thing the guy next in line yelled to let him know !
    Apples and oranges. Mandarins and wallets 😀

    • I’m glad the guy got his wallet back. I’d freak out if I lost my wallet. Mandarins are only $8, so it’s so much trouble to replace all the ID and credit cards. >_<

  • Jared has the 1+1 that he gave me to use (that’s why I have two phones). I haven’t hear of Hero but the 1+1 is really reaalllly good for less than $400. My hubby did alot of research on it and he picked a great one. If the Hero doesn’t last, check out the 1+1…I think the new one is called 1+2 ?

    • That sounds like a great idea. I will need to tell Mr. FAF. We will check out the phone together. I think it must be better than Honor! Thanks for the suggestion, Lily!

  • Sorry to hear about the mandarin oranges! I love mandarin oranges too and I have left stuff before at the grocery store even though I paid for it. It’s definitely not a pleasant feeling.

    That’s so nice Mr. FAF helped you change the http to https! Yay Mr. FAF!

  • One more thing to add to my list, research http vs https. Does it ever end? Totally new to the world of blogging and really should have done a lot more research before starting. I also don’t have a MrFAF!

    I have an old phone and it has been acting up a lot so will need to get a new one too, just not looking forward to spending any money!

    Great post!

  • Why do you consider not going on a vacation a win? Americans continue to take less and less time each year from working. The statistics show that this is bad for productivity and overall health. You don’t have to go anywhere extravagant, but even going to the beach for a few days is worth it.

    • We don’t look at what other people enjoy and copy them thinking that will make us happy too. We think about what WE want. Traveling might be fun, but it’s also exhausting for us, especially because we have a toddler. I consider it a win since we didn’t spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on a trip but didn’t feel like we missed out on anything.

  • Wait so how is the phone a win?

    $409 knock off + $250 no-name brand that won’t last a year = $659 phone expenditure…and it will need to be replaced in a year or less?

    I’m new to the format, but this appears to be in the wrong column unless I’m missing something?

  • I realized you, Michelle and Lilly made the switch to https so I knew I had to do the same if I wanted my blog to grow.

    Seeing the green lock on my site makes me feel like my site is established and safe. I’m glad I made the switch.

    Oh and I also choose the free way!

  • I hired someone to do the switch to https for me and was less than $50. Not sure about going forward, by I got a Moto G4 Plus and DH a Moto G5 Plus. They are well rated budget smartphones. IIRC, we each paid about $250 – maybe keep an eye out for something similar. Don’t know why, but tend to look at some British tech review sites to pick out a new phone every 2 years (at least, it seems our phones seem to get lots of problems at that point). For some reason, I just like the reviews from those sites a bit better and they seem to be able to get their hands on the tech sooner than us here in the states.

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