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
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.