I first posted about Groupon in July, 2010. At that point I had purchased one offer. Fast forward a year and a half, and I’m up to a whopping seven deals split between two sites. I’m not exactly a Groupon addict, that’s for sure! So, first my deals, then my tips on avoiding wasting money on them.

These are the deals I’ve bought:
Wine Insiders – I saved over 50% on twelve decent bottles of wine. That was my first steal, but it required some finagling.

Amazon – $20 for $10. I order from Amazon a lot, so of course I took this deal. Frankly, I don’t know why Amazon did it, but I suspect it was designed to put Living Social on the map and Amazon may not have paid a commission on the deal.

Whole Foods – $20 for $10. I shop at Whole Foods a lot, too. I spend at least $200 a year there. So, I snagged the deal. They even thanked me for coming. That was nice, but again, I’m not sure why WF felt the need to offer the deal. It seems like they’re pretty busy most of the time.

Yoga – $30 for 10 classes (normally $130). This was a really sweet deal. Then the business went the extra mile to make me a repeat customer. Shortly before the 10 classes expired, they sent me an exclusive offer for renewing Groupon customers – $99 for another 10 classes. Not as sweet a deal, but still cheap for yoga. So I renewed. They didn’t offer another deal after that, but I was a loyal customer by then and happily bought another package at full price. I think part of the reason Groupon’s work for yoga studios is that the class is held regardless of the number of students. I’ve had classes with 9 students, and classes with 2 students. Same teacher, same class. By offering the Groupon, the studio was introducing their classes to new students without incurring any additional cost.

Amoeba Music – $30 for $15. Amoeba is an amazing independent music store (used and new) in Los Angeles (and a few other cities). Again, I’m surprised they even offered a deal. I bought one for me and one for my husband. Amoeba is typically packed on the weekend, and the weekend we went was no exception. This offer was clever because it expired the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so customers couldn’t use it during the even busier holiday season. Maybe it helped boost sales during the pre-holiday lull. When I checked out, they gave me a special Groupon coupon for $5 off my next $30 purchase. Since Amoeba customers are fairly loyal (it’s not as if there are a lot of other physical record stores to compete with anymore), that’s just a nice thank you that doesn’t much hurt their bottom line. My husband and I both spent a little over $30, so we saved just under 50%, not a bad deal.

Garden Center – A garden center chain with a store near my house offered a $50 for $25 (I think) deal. I visit this garden center occasionally, most often for advice. It’s the sort of place where you can take a leaf and ask “What is wrong with it?” and they’ll actually know the answer. Not only that, but they have the product you need to fix it. Service is excellent. The prices are rather high, though. I ended up spending way more than the Groupon, probably around $70 because I lose all control in garden centers. But, I was able to stock up on fertilizers, plants, and tools and save a little bit, so I don’t regret the deal. I continue to go there with my plant problems, too.

Old Navy – $20 for $10. I love Old Navy. They have great deals already. When I read about this deal on a coupon site, I snagged it. I like to buy a few new tops each summer and winter, and I needed new jeans, so using it would be no problem. I also happened to have a $50 gift card that I needed to use. I tossed the gift card in my purse and just kept the Groupon expiration date in the back of my mind. This was the first time I used the Groupon app to use a deal. I didn’t have the printed version with me when I found myself needing to kill time near an Old Navy. But my smartphone came to the rescue. I ended up paying about $10 cash after the gift card and the Groupon.

To be honest, I don’t spend a ton of time looking at deal sites. I found out about the Amazon, Amoeba, and Whole Foods deals when friends posted about them on Facebook. I found out about the Wine Insider and Old Navy deals on a coupon blog. The Yoga deal I spotted myself because I was actively looking for a yoga deal at the time.  I happened to spot the Armstrong deal in my email because I shopped there already.

How to Avoid Wasting Money on Daily Deals
I’ve been satisfied with all my deal purchases, and haven’t let any of them expire without using them. Here are my tips for avoiding waste:

1. Know what sort of deals you’re looking for. I was looking for a yoga class when I found that deal. I’ve been looking for a decent facial deal for months, but I haven’t purchased one yet because I haven’t liked any of the offers. I’m not going to buy a spa deal just because it’s a good deal if the services don’t appeal to me.

2. Buy from businesses you already frequent. Four of the deals I bought were for places I already shopped. I knew the deal was good, because I knew how much I typically spent. I also knew where the business was and that cashing in the deal would be convenient.

3. Buy from businesses close to you. If you have to go out of your way to cash in the deal, you probably won’t, no matter how good it is. So wait for a deal from a place near your home or office. With a new deal every day, you may not have to wait that long.

4. Check schedules before you buy. This is key with service related deals. The yoga studio offered the type of class I wanted to take at a time I could attend, and it was close to my house. That made it impossible to pass up.

5. Think about it. Yes, you only have 24 hours, at most, to buy the deal. But you don’t have to buy it in the next five minutes. Take an hour or two to think about the deal. If you still want it, buy it. If you’ve forgotten about it, then you didn’t really want it.

When the Mafia Wars and Farmville games first rolled out on Facebook, I didn’t participate. In fact, I actively blocked all of those posts and updates from my stream. Now that Google + has rolled out games in a separate stream, I decided to see why people get so addicted to these games. As I played, I understood the addiction and the temptation to spend real money on virtual stuff.

Monsters and Farms?
I chose the game Monster World, which looks pretty similar to Farmville. I plant, harvest, and sell crops to earn coins, which I then use to hire helpers, decorate the farm, and buy more plots. Each level up affords new opportunities to expand or interesting new crops to plant. That part is fun, and addictive. It’s easy to spend an hour clicking to harvest and watch the points pile up.

In addition to offering a market where you can sell, the game also sends a robot buyer that generally offers more coins per crop, but he only buys certain things and sets a time limit.

You can earn additional points by completing tasks, like building a crib. Tools for the crib are found by harvesting, by asking a friend to send you one, or by buying them with real money.

You Want Me to Spend Real Money?
The game has two forms of currency: coins and cash. You earn coins, you buy Monster Cash with real money. Some of the items I could buy were only available with Monster Cash. So I clicked the link to see what it was about. $80 Monster Dollars cost $11.50 real dollars. For that $11.50, I can buy a large virtual fountain, that will earn me 70 “happiness points” and 105 star points. The star points help me level up, which unlocks additional crops or stuff I can buy. Happiness points earn me the right to plow more plots.

But, really, why do I need to spend $11.50 to buy fake decorations that will earn me the ability to plant fake crops from which I will earn fake coins? I don’t see any option to cash out and make real money from this game.

The task to build a baby crib includes a crying monster baby (not a sound, just an image.) If I don’t want to wait to find the tools I need, I can buy them for just $32 Monster Dollars. If $40 Monster Dollars cost $5.75, I would have to spend $5 real dollars to build a fake crib for a fake baby.

When I saw that baby cry, my heart started to race. What would happen if I didn’t get the crib built quickly enough? Would the baby go away? Would I lose points? Should I spend the money to buy the tools?

I’m too frugal to actually give in to the temptation, but I could see how the game created a false sense of urgency that would prompt me to spend real money to fix whatever issue had developed.

Instead I’ll Just Spend Real Time
At one point, my worker’s went on strike because I’d plowed more plots than they were willing to work. I had to buy decorations to earn happiness points. Decorations bought with Monster coins earn fewer happiness points, so instead you spend more time. One available crop is ready for harvest in one minute. That crop produces two plants. Those plants sell for two coins each. When I saw my plots blocked off, and the time ticking down on a potential buyer, I did a quick calculation. If I spent an hour planting all 20 of my available plots with those crops, I could grow 2400 plants, which would sell for 4800 coins.

But let’s think about that. Let’s say I get paid $20 an hour. I would essentially be spending $20 to earn 4800 fake coins. Why would I waste my time that way?

Yet people do it, every day. A woman shook her baby to death because he interrupted her Farmville game with his crying. Now that’s an extreme, but I’ve also seen friends posting endless status updates on Facebook about their Farmville accomplishments. They spent hours playing the game.

So What Do We Get from these Games?
What do we derive from these games that makes us willing to waste time and potentially spend real money on virtual stuff? I think it’s two things: 1. the false sense of urgency that comes from a waiting buyer or striking worker, and 2. a sense of accomplishment. You’ve harvested your crops and earned points and your friends can come see what you did. (I don’t have any friends playing and I’m ignoring the game’s plea to invite them.)

But really, if you think about it, what have you accomplished? When I post on Facebook about my latest gardening success, I’m talking about a real success. Something I planted with real hands and tended with real effort. All I’m doing in Monster World is clicking a mouse. Clicking a mouse is not an accomplishment. My cat can click a mouse. A one-year-old can click a mouse.

Ultimately, the time spent on Farmville type games is no greater accomplishment than watching TV. So, next time you’re tempted to spend real money on one of these games, go see if there’s something else you’d rather be doing. If you want to do something for a sense of accomplishment, maybe it’s time to buy a real plant.

 

This post will probably sound like I’m bragging, but I’m not. Instead, I’m realizing how wonderful it is to have breathing room in the budget. To be able to pay for things and not worry about it.

Two examples from last week:
My husband was driving home from the hardware store the other day and pulled his car charger out of the lighter socket. The socket came with it! So, to the shop we went. He also needed his 90,ooo mile service, and they discovered the lighter had blown a fuse. The bill came to $544. We put it on our Goodyear card to take advantage of the six months same as cash deal, because we like to do that when we can, but we could have paid cash for the bill right then. It was nice to have a choice.

We realized that we’d surpassed our emergency fund goal without meaning to. So, we took a look at the budget. We also discovered that we won’t need to dip into the fund to pay upcoming insurance and property tax bills. So, now we can start contributing to Roth IRA plans! It is so nice to have that cushion.

The Beauty of the Cash Surplus
We’re still pretty frugal, but we like having a surplus. It gives us freedom. Now, we’re not likely to run off to Paris for the weekend because we can, but it does allow us to buy living room rugs without worrying about how we’ll pay for it or saving up for months. When my husband finally decides which iPod he wants to replace his dead seven-year-old iPod, we can just buy it.

How We Got Here
It didn’t happen overnight. We started by paying down $40,000 in debt. We still have a hefty pile of student loan debt, but that’s amortized over 30 years and we prefer to focus on retirement savings instead of paying down low-interest loans that can be deferred if necessary.

It also required a change in habits. My husband is less likely to buy stuff than he used to be. I bake less than I used to. We don’t go out very often (partly because we have very little interest in most of the movies that come out these days, and partly because dining out is hard for me, and partly because we’re so busy doing house stuff!)

Tax credits (like the homebuyer credit) and tax refunds helped boost our emergency fund and windfalls helped pay off that debt. We’ve streamlined expenses where we can.

Finally, we got there through income growth. Our income has grown by 600% from the year we got married when we were both grad students and I was only working part time. That’s no doubt the largest contributor to our surplus, but we wouldn’t have it if we’d let our spending increase with our income. Instead of applying for the largest mortgage we were told we could afford, we opted for something we knew we could comfortably afford. Instead of going on a spending spree when we moved in, we shopped carefully and found a good mix of high-quality affordable pieces that will last a while. Instead of rushing out to landscape the front and back yards, we did it over time.

We still budget our expenses each month to make sure we can cover them and plan for large purchases, but I haven’t run out our costs recently to see where we need to cut. I should, I’m sure there are areas where expenses have crept up, but I’m not as worried about it as I used to be. And that’s the real joy of having breathing room in the budget – peace of mind. You can’t buy that.

I’m not the type of hoarder you see on those TV shows. That would be way too unfrugal for me! But there are a few things I hoard, and many times those things have proved useful. So here are the things I hoard:

Nails, Screws, and Bolts
Really, it’s all manner of fastening things. If I buy a box of nails, obviously I save the rest. However, I also save all those allen wrenches and extra screws that come with furniture from Ikea and Cost Plus. Often there will be one or two extra pieces in the box and I toss them in my toolbox with the rest of my screw hoard. Then, when I need just one screw or nail, I can go into the toolbox and find exactly what I need. I rarely need to go to the hardware store if I just need something simple and don’t need a lot of it.

The key is to check the box at the start of a project to make sure I don’t already have what I might need. If I don’t, then I head to Ace for a few screws. Those allen wrenches come in handy when the legs on a piece of furniture need tightening, because anything you build yourself will eventually need tightening.

I don’t, however, save six of the same sized allen wrenches. Just one will do. And I don’t save screws that are broken or in poor condition, because they’re not useful anymore.

Buttons
As any woman can tell you, our clothes often come with extra stuff. Little bags or envelopes that contain an extra button, sequins, beads, or thread should we lose one. I save both the buttons and the tiny safety pins that attach them to the clothing. The safety pins are great for holding a wrap dress or sweater closed at a safe-for-work level, and the blend in well.

I buy most of my clothes from the same store, which means I’ve now amassed quite a collection of identical buttons one at a time. I now have an assortment of black or silver buttons when I need to sew something. Interestingly, I’ve never actually had one of their buttons fall off, so I guess the extras aren’t necessary, but I keep them for other sewing projects.

Pads and Pens
If there’s a place giving away free pads or pens, I take them home with me. Hotel rooms are great for this, as are conventions. I store them in the closet and then I always have a phone pad handy when the old one runs out. Why buy pads when so many places will give them to you, free?

Of course, free pens aren’t always good pens, so I’m quick to throw out a free pen if it doesn’t work. I’ve got plenty more where that one came from.

Plastic Grocery Bags
I actually usually use canvas or tulle bags when shopping at the store or farmer’s market, but things like lettuce store better in plastic bags. I then those bags for kitty litter disposal. I hoard them in a special bag I made just for that purpose. When I run out, which I finally did recently, I switch to plastic for a few weeks at the grocery store.

Shipping Boxes
I don’t actually hoard shipping boxes year round, but I do when it gets close to Christmas. Then I use them to ship gifts to family members rather than buying boxes. I don’t ship many things the rest of the year, so I only save boxes that will probably find a use. After Christmas, I purge my stash until the following year.

That’s it, all the things I hoard. As you can see, there’s a fine line between hoarding and prudently saving useful things. I’m pretty sure my husband will tell me if I go overboard, but I doubt that day is coming.

Is there anything you hoard?

As I’ve posted numerous times, I am anti-Valentine’s Day. Yes, I’ll cook a nice dinner and spring for a card, but I’m opposed to the price inflation that accompanies the gifts and dinners out on this occasion that really doesn’t mean anything. Still, I know a lot of people feel compelled to do something for the day. That’s probably why I still make a nice dinner. If you’re like me – you hate yourself for observing the occasion, but can’t make yourself stop – here are five frugal tips.

Cook Dinner at Home
You can get a lovely filet mignon at the grocery store for about $10 a pound (that will serve at least two people). If you ordered that in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, you’d pay at least $30 a person. Grill or sauté the steak, add a nice red wine and mushrooms reduction sauce, and serve with sliced potatoes roasted with olive oil and salt. It’s gourmet, it’s delicious, it’s easy, and it’s probably about $15 for the whole dinner if you cook it at home. You don’t even have to tip a valet!

Choose Untraditional Flowers
Roses are common. If your beloved likes a different kind of flower, you can probably get it at a much more affordable price. Right now, many grocery stores and nurseries sell tulips, hyacinths, and other early spring bulbs in pots. Some are already growing. Opt for an affordable option like this, and you’ll not only save $50 or more, your gift will also last a lot longer than seven days.

If you must do roses, and you own a home, buy a bare root rose bush. Plant it in the garden and it’s a gift that will be a constant reminder of your love for years to come.

Choose A Favorite Dessert Instead of Chocolate
Unless your beloved is a true chocolate connoisseur, in which case he or she will probably prefer a single super-fancy truffle to a generic one pound assortment, skip the expected heart-shaped box of chocolates. Instead, go to the bakery to buy your beloved’s favorite dessert. A slice of their favorite pie. A dozen of their favorite cookies. It shows you put some thought into it.

Rent a Classic Movie
Head to the video store, or log onto your streaming account, and search for classic romantic movies from the 1930s through 1960s. Look for Tracy and Hepburn, Clark Gable, etc. Since these movies are OLD, they usually only cost a couple of bucks to rent at the most. Cuddle up on the couch with popcorn and let these classic love affairs inspire your own love affair.

Flip Through Old Memories
Open a bottle of wine and then pull out your photo albums to revisit the memories of the time you’ve been together. Sometimes those pictures stir up great stories you both barely remember anymore. (Since we don’t usually take pictures of the bad times, there’s not much risk of dredging up an old fight.) If you find some really good photos, compile a photo album of your greatest hits. If you want to turn it into a photobook, watch the coupon sites for coupon codes. There are always lots available.

If you want other cheap Valentine’s Day ideas, and frugal Valentine’s Day ideas, or unusual Valentine’s Day advice, check out my previous posts.

We have a problem with our towels. We only bought them 18 months ago, but they’ve already lost their fluffiness. I’m wondering if it’s because our new, energy-efficient laundry machines are less powerful than our apartment’s industrial machines, but it’s a problem whatever the reason. I’m not ready to buy new towels yet (see how I deftly avoided the cliché there?).

Wash Towels in Vinegar or Baking Soda
Over time, towels pick up detergent and fabric softener residue, which can make them rough and less absorbent. You can remove that, though. Wikihow has a complete rundown of the steps, but the basics are simple: Run your towels, and your towels only, through two hot loads. No detergent, no fabric softener, nothing. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the first load. Run the towels through again, adding ½ cup of baking soda to the water. This should get out any smells or residue, but you might need to do it a few times. Then start using less detergent on future loads. You don’t need nearly as much as they recommend! If you can dry them outside on a line, that’s the best way to get fluffy towels.

Use Old Towels for Household Projects
At some point, a repair person will ask if you have some old towels they can use. Pull out those crappy, threadbare towels stuffed in the back of the linen closet. If they’re in really bad shape afterwards, toss them. If not, wash them and return them to the closet for future repair people.

Old towels are also great for cleaning up spills, pet vomit, and other yucky stuff.

I used an old set of towels to apply paint thinner to our hardwood floors. The paint thinner helped restore their finish, then I threw out the towels since I don’t want a lot of paint thinner in my washing machine.

Rags!
Make the move from paper towels to cloth towels by turning your old towels into rags. They don’t have much lint left in them by the time we retire towels, so they’re perfect for cleaning tables and counters, dusting, and polishing silver. They might work well on mirrors and windows, but newspapers actually work best for that. If your towels are too big for your needs, just cut them up. It’s not like they need to look nice.

Make Believe Accessories
An old pillowcase or towel makes an awesome cape if you’re five. Making a Halloween costume? Puff it up with old towels. It’s cheaper than fiberfill and it doesn’t really matter if the costume falls apart the next day.

Pet Baths
We only bathe our cats once every couple of years, but we don’t use our nice towels when we do. Cats and water are not friends and good towels will only wind up shredded. I’m sure dogs are easier to bathe, but there’s no reason to use a new towel on something as furry as a pet.

Can you think of any other uses for old towels? Tell me in the comments!

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-New-Towels-More-Absorbent

I read an interesting article on Marketplace.org about several bloggers who went a year without buying any new clothes.  No used clothes, either, although they could buy all the underwear, shoes, and accessories they wanted. So, that got me to thinking, could I go a year without buying new clothes? The answer for me is probably no. And I don’t really buy that much, but there are some times when I do need to buy new clothes.

When I Buy New Clothes
I do tend to keep my clothes for a long time. I have t-shirts and jeans that I’ve been wearing for four or five years. Some items are probably six or seven years old. However, clothes do wear out. If I had committed myself to not buying new clothes for a year, I could do it, but I’d probably be at the store buying a few new things on day 366!

I buy a couple new shirts and maybe a new dress or skirt at the start of each summer to freshen up my wardrobe. I also buy a couple new shirts and pair of pants at the start of each winter. I buy new pajamas once a year, once I’ve worn holes in the old pair.

I buy new gym shoes every six months, but otherwise I tend not to buy shoes often. Accessories are pretty minimal, too. Usually I buy them at the same time as the new clothes.

I already know that next summer I will need to buy new crop pants. I have been looking for three years already for the perfect pairs, but I’ll finally have to get serious next summer because the pairs I have simply won’t make it another year.

Special Events
What would the bloggers have done if they were asked to be in a wedding? Sure, you can avoid buying a new formal dress for most events if you already have one, but most bridesmaids are expected to wear a specific dress. Maybe that shouldn’t count for this purpose, since bridesmaid’s usually have no say in the matter!

Weight Loss or Gain
If you lose or gain more than ten pounds, you’ll either need to buy some new clothes or get your old ones tailored. Even at a ten pound gain, you’ll need new pants or you’ll look terrible. Losing ten pounds shouldn’t make your clothes look terrible, but more than that calls for some interim upgrades if you plan to keep losing.

The Changing Body
I technically still wear the same size I did in high school, but there’s absolutely no way I could wear those clothes. And not just because they were horrible 80s pegged jeans and cropped shirts. This may be more true for women than for men, but the body changes over the years. Even if you weigh the same at 40 as you did at 18, the way you carry the weight has changed. Clothes, especially jeans, start to conform to the body, and you may find that your really old clothing puckers in odd places.

I think if I made a pledge, I might be able to avoid new clothes for a year, but it would be tough. How about you? Could you go a year without buying new clothes?

So, it finally happened. I committed the most unfrugal act of getting a smartphone. However, I still managed to squeeze a bit of frugality into it, even though it’s a big budget change.

Not only did I buy a smartphone, but I had to break my current contract and pay a $70 termination fee to do it! However, buying my husband a replacement phone for four months would have cost $40, so it’s really only a net loss of $30. It’s worth it to get our phones now.

Why I Got a Droid
As you’ll recall, my old phone broke back in January, right before my husband’s surgery. Although I had wanted an iPhone, AT&T made me cry, so I vowed to abandon them when my contact was up. Until then, I bought a cheapie phone that got me through.

Except, that both my husband and I were experiencing work-related reasons as well as personal reasons for needing smartphones with email and web access. Still we waited.

Then his phone broke. In the exact same manner as mine. Note to AT&T – when phones of the same model break in the exact same place for multiple users, this is a design flaw and you should issue a recall, not ignore the issue. This is why you lost a customer for life.

So, with the iPhone off-limits (not to mention that the recent news about iPhone 4 troubles didn’t make me lust for one), I looked around for the best alternative. Enter the Droid. Folks, it is awesome. I did my research and settled on Verizon phone service. We went to the Verizon store to look at the various Android phones. We then waited until July 15 to look at the Droid X, because if we’re going to do this, we might as well get the best available at the time.

As it turned out, a Droid X barely fits in my hand, so that was out. The HTC Incredible was unavailable for at least three weeks and I needed the phone by the middle of next week for an upcoming trip.

How I Made My Unfrugal Purchase Slightly Frugal
There was one other reason we opted for the Droid by Motorola rather than the Droid X or Incredible – it was buy one get one free. This was a savings of $250 over buying two Xs or Incredibles.

We also opted for a family plan with a minimal texting plan rather than the full talk and text plan. We studied our minutes and determined that we use more than 700 minutes, but less than 1400 minutes a month. We previously only paid for 700 because we had tons of rollover minutes with AT&T, so we were sad to lose that deal, but the 1400 minute plan does come with unlimited calls to 10 Friends and Family designees, so we can make it work.

So, our phone cost is jumping from around $95 a month to $189 a month, however, we still get $90 in reimbursements from our employers.

And folks, I’m not sorry I did it. I love this phone. Seriously love it. It will make my life easier in so many ways.

I’ve written a post in the past about inexpensive hobbies, but I happen to have a really expensive hobby. It’s also very time and labor-intensive, so I don’t get to do it often, but I haven’t given it up. In fact, I’m thinking of taking up a new project now that I have a house.

Expensive Hobbies
Several of my friends have very expensive hobbies. I have a friend who is an excellent quilter, but quilting is very, very expensive. Scrapbooking is another pricey one. Knitting, too. Basically, crafting in general has gotten expensive unless you only use the cheapest supplies.

Playing a sport can become expensive if you join a team, have to buy equipment, or have to pay team dues or rent game spaces.

Horseback riding, bike riding, etc. can also easily get expensive, especially if you do it competitively. Really, any hobby that you try to transition into a career or competition can quickly become expensive.

Collecting anything can be a very pricey hobby indeed.

I have two hobbies. One is novel writing, and yes, it can be expensive. However, because I pursue it professionally, I can deduct some business expenses for taxes. My second hobby, which I can’t deduct, is stained glass crafting.

I haven’t actually made a stained glass piece in at least ten years. I tried to make one in my old apartment, but glass-crafting is very messy. First I had to tape garbage bags all over my dining room to avoid getting glass slivers on the floor while I cut it. Then I had to tape garbage bags all over my kitchen and crouch over a stool to grind the edges of the cut glass. After that, I vowed not to make another piece until I had a house where I could do the work outside or in a garage.

Calculating the Cost of Expensive Hobbies
Well, now I have a house and a small window in need of decoration. I plan to make a small window hanging from stained glass. I already own most of the supplies, but I may need to replace some of them, and that could be expensive. For example:

New diamond grinder head: $26.95
Copper foil: $5.95 a roll
Cutter tip: $14.66
Particle board work surface: $20
Pattern paper: $8.95 for 100 sheets
Glass: $8-20 per sheet

Of course, I’m not truly considering the cost because I enjoy making stained glass windows and I want to make a window. I’ll try to keep costs down by using some of the glass I already have. I have several large sheets, as well as a big box of glass bits that are perfect for small cuts.

If a hobby is truly expensive, you’ll either have to decide how to afford it, or find a new hobby.

Budgeting for an Expensive Hobby
|When cash was tight, I didn’t make stained glass pieces. I simply couldn’t afford it. If you have debt, you can’t afford a hobby. If you don’t have debt, arrange your budget to accommodate your hobby without creating debt. Look at your expenses to find other areas you can cut.

Some simple examples:

  • Use coupons at the grocery store. Put your savings toward your hobby.
  • Cancel or reduce your cable. If a hobby is keeping you busy, do you need cable?
  • Brown bag your lunch.
  • Sell CDs, DVDs, or supplies from old hobbies you’re no longer active in.
  • Cancel monthly subscriptions.
  • Pool resources. If you know other people with the same hobby, schedule meetings where you can share your supplies and avoid having to buy all the tools that others might have.

Once you make the necessary cuts, budget the hobby into your monthly expenses so you’ll have the funds ready when you need to buy supplies or sign up for a class. You should also follow crafting blogs or newsletters to be alerted when supplies or equipment go on sale.

We all need hobbies. They’re creative outlets that help us reduce our stress and provide simple enjoyment. In fact, if you spend most of your time sitting on the couch watching TV, you probably need to get a hobby! Just make sure it’s one you can afford.

Monday is Memorial Day, which the stores consider the official kick-off of the summer shopping season. You’ll see sales galore, but you can still be frugal if you try!

Check for Deals
If there are items you need for summer projects, check the store circulars for coupons and discounts. If the item you want is discounted, go snap it up. But first, check a price comparison site to see if it’s a good deal.

Attend a BBQ
We’ve just learned that our block hosts a Memorial Day block party. We will certainly be attending! All we have to bring is something to throw on the grill. Since it’s a block party, we don’t even have to go anywhere!

Spend a Day Outdoors
Pack a picnic and then go for a hike, a swim, or just loll about on the grass with a good book. You’ve been working hard, you deserve a day of rest.

Work on Your House
Since we have a long weekend, I’ll be catching up on projects around the house, which will keep me out of the stores. I plan to paint the bathroom ceiling and fix some peeling paint in the kitchen. If I have time, I’ll also start painting the baseboards.

Bake a Pie
Anyone who knows me knows I love pie. Cherries are in season. So is rhubarb! I’ve seen peaches at the farmer’s market, too. So, snatch up some fresh fruit and then bake your first summer pie. Serve it with vanilla ice cream and I think you’ve got yourself the start of a perfect frugal summer.

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