A Shift in Mindset: Being Cheap Versus Being Frugal

The last Monday of the school year (back in June), after I dropped the kids at their respective schools, I went to Target. I bought curtains. Now, for those who either know me in real life, or I’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that prior to blogging full-time, one of the jobs I had in the past was a historical costumer. So I know how to sew.

Why did I buy curtains? I’m frugal.

Let me explain. I got really nice curtains for each kid kids bedroom. They are 63 inches long, they are black-out curtains meaning that they are treated with white plastic that once the curtains are closed at no light filters through. Each curtain panel was $11. So for two sets of curtains, they cost after taxes about $46. Which is decent. I could not walk into a fabric store and buy all the supplies I need it for two sets of curtains for the same amount of money.

For $46, I saved myself about two hours’ worth of measuring, cutting, and sewing. Plus a trip to the fabric store. For those of you who have been to a fabric store lately, you know how dangerous it is once you get in there. So many new ideas, craft supplies, cool fabric. And I try to have willpower, but I do love to make things.

I could have in theory found cheap fabric either at the fabric store or at Walmart, or I could’ve even gone to a thrift store and look for fabric, or old sheets. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted something that looked nice I wanted something or I wouldn’t have to spend hours getting something done just to save a few bucks. And that’s the difference between being cheap, and being frugal.

Everyone’s heard the old adage “Time is money“. And it’s true. Even though I may work at home, it doesn’t mean that my time is not worth anything. When I do paying gigs, no matter what they are, I won’t take them if I feel that my time is not being compensated well enough. And for this, new curtain project, I felt that $46 was well spent.

Now I know not everyone has extra money lying around to do whatever project that is looming on your horizon. There are other ways you can flex your frugal muscles.

  • If it’s a sewing project, you can go through your fabric stash if you have one, you can find coupons online for fabric if you wanna make your own project.
  • Look online and see if there are discounts available or deals or sales on whatever your project item is.
  • Check your local buy nothing group online.
  • Hit up your local thrift store. I have gotten many good pairs of sheets sets, bedding, and even curtains at thrift stores. A lot of people change out their curtains every year and wash and donate their “old“ curtains to a thrift store. My bedroom curtains came from the Goodwill in my town. And I paid less than $10 for both of the curtains. And they’re beautiful and I love them.

Prior to hitting up Target, for the past month, I’d kept my eyes open anytime I went out to a thrift store, or when I was out shopping to see if there were curtains that were perfect for our needs. I was not successful.  So instead of continuing the search even longer for something secondhand, I bit the bullet and spent $46. Because to me, getting a project done and checked off my to-do list for $46, was worth it. I didn’t need to keep going to thrift stores every week, trying to find the perfect set of curtains or the perfect fabric.

Frugality versus cheapness is something that goes beyond purchasing home goods. Let’s look at groceries. I know back in the heyday of couponing, a lot of people would go from store to store to store to stock up on deals and bargains. I will admit that back before I had kids I would do that. Because I had lots of free time. But now that I have two kids, my free time is limited.

And couponing is not what it used to be. So I shop at the same stores every week. Unless something is free, I tend not to deviate from my usual shopping. I shop at three stores. Which, seems like a lot, however, two of the stores are in the same shopping center, right next-door to each other. And I buy specific stuff at each store because it’s the only place to find what I want within my budget. So every week I head to $.99 only, Grocery Outlet, and usually Food 4 Less.

This is just some of what we get each week!

We get our CSA box every week for $25. And it’s an amazing deal. It saves me both time in that I don’t have to try to go to two or three grocery stores that have decent produce to find exactly what I want, and it saves me money. A $25 produce box has everything we need for the entire week. And I am able to use what is in that box to plan my weekly menu. We seldom have waste from our CSA box. And what we don’t eat by the end of the week just gets rolled over into the next week. In the past, I was spending half or more of a grocery budget each week on produce, and half the time it was too much, and it will go bad or I would have to stash it in the freezer. I still stash veggies and fruit in the freezer, but not to such a large extent.

Another thing that for me is frugal but not cheap is Dream Dinners. Granted, Dream Dinners can cost upwards of $250 plus a month for a minimum order. And that’s either 12 dinners that serve 2 to 3 people each or six large dinners that are for 4 to 6 people each. I like Dream Dinners because from the time you start cooking to the time dinner is on the table it’s 45 minutes or less in most cases.

And there are times when I’ve had a long day and it’s just been so crazy that I don’t want to cook. But instead of going through the drive-through, ordering a pizza, I can just pull out one of our dream dinners and have food that’s ready to eat in 45 minutes or less. There are no difficult directions, and the food is always delicious. And one order with 12 medium meals is enough for a month for us.

I tend to use them on nights where I know that I’m going to want something that’s quick, something that’s easy. Dream Dinners are cheaper than take out for our family. If I was to do take out 2 to 3 times a week every month that would be upwards of $600. That’s based on an average of what we usually order when we get takeout.

These are just a few examples of how I am frugal. Obviously, these may not be the ways that you save time vs. doing it the cheapest way. Everyone has ways that saves time and money, and I’d love to hear from you!

Family Binder: Important Info at Your Fingertips

The other day I was talking to a friend about how we store all of our information now that my computer is on the fritz/being repaired.

I mean, Most people have everything stored on their computer or on the cloud/external drive, which is great, but if your computer goes out… Are you really going to access everything via your smartphone? That was my plan originally, but after like.. oh, say 8 hours of that, I posted on Facebook, asking my friends if anyone had a spare computer or laptop I could borrow. Because don’t you know it, the computer died… 2 days before school started. When I was taking an ONLINE CLASS!!

My friends Michael and Amanda are generously loaning me their laptop, and it’s much easier to do homework and write.

IMG_3895So, how to store all the important stuff… I’m bringing back The Family Binder. It’s a 3 inch binder, with section dividers, heavy weight page protectors, and plastic folders. We’ve has one for a long time, and as we moved more to paperless bills, it got used a lot less, and became a good way of storing a copy of our monthly budget, important papers, passwords (so many passwords, you guys!).

As you can see I’ve decorated the front of the binder with photos, the Brandon Bird SVU Valentine’s Day card Mr. Husband got for me years back, sonograms of the kiddos. You can make it as plain or fancy as you’d like.

IMG_3901I use some of the pages from the household notebook section of Organized Home.  I love the holiday printables from Organized Home the best. I’ve been using them since 2010, and they really help us stay on budget and keep track of all of the shenanigans that the holidays bring!

Additionally, I have extra sections for vacation planning, important papers (marriage license, vaccination records, copies of prescriptions/ list of all of our medications, birth certificates, kids social security cards, insurance id cards/policy information, and a copy of the deed to our home), and vehicle maintenance. IMG_3896I have a folder tucked in the front pocket of the binder for the big kids educational/medical stuff like his most recent IEP, Regional Center correspondence, and copies of his medical diagnostic paperwork.

I know a lot of you are reading this thinking that most of this information can be accessed online or via your smartphone, but think about when you will most likely need to access this binder… In an emergency. Not the time you want to drain the battery on your phone trying to figure out what your homeowners insurance policy number is, or your insurance agents phone number.  I also keep notebook paper in the back, in case of an emergency. If nothing else, it’ll keep the kids entertained!

If you want to make your own Family Binder, you can put as much work into it as you’d like. I made ours while I was pregnant and nesting with the big kid. So I went to town with with laminating sheets, scrapbooking stickers, decals, paper, and all kinds of doo-dads. I even made a family binder for my Sister-in-Law and her husband when they got married.  Just make sure that you store extra empty page protectors in the back- you never know when you’ll need to add more information!

I keep ours in a safe, easily accessible location, in case we need to leave the house. Living in San Diego County, it will most likely be a wild fire that causes us to leave home. We live too far inland and up high enough where rising flood/excessive rain water won’t touch us.

Talk back: If you have a family binder, I’d love for you to share photos in the comments or post pics on Instagram and tag me: @hewesfamilyfun  using #familybinder.

 

Holiday and Game Day Fun with Hormel Gatherings Party Trays!

I received free product in exchange for my honest review. I love this time of year- We go to and host so many events: Holiday Parties, Craft Play Dates, College Football and NFL Watching Parties, and of course Coupon Meet Ups!

Snacks are a huge part of any event, so I was stoked when Social Insider and Hormel asked me to review Hormel Gatherings Party Trays. If you’ve never heard of them before, it’s basically a party in a tray! They are an easy, stress-free appetizer option.

IMG_7110.jpgThere are three varieties: Hard Salami & Pepperoni Party Tray, Honey Ham and Turkey Party Tray, and Supreme Party Tray. They all contain Sargento Cheeses and Hormel Meats.

I chose the Honey Ham and Turkey Party Tray for our recent dinner party. We got together to play games and hang out.

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The tray is super sturdy, which is definitely a plus. Each component is packed up in the tray. All you do is open each sealed bag, and arrange the tray in a manner that suits you. Because of the tray and great snap-on lid, I think this would be a great addition to any tail gating event or potluck! Super easy to transport and store any leftovers- But who am I kidding… There won’t be any leftovers.

If you are feeling fancy, you can set out condiments that would go with the meats and cheeses. I mixed up some honey mustard and opened a jar of spicy stone ground mustard.

IMG_7116.jpgHere is the plate that Henry made for one of our guests. For a 6 year old, I’m impressed- He also took the picture with my phone. I love having the kids help with holiday events. It helps them get into the spirit too, and reminds me that these kind of events should be low stress.

Bitty Bird “helped” by stacking up paper napkins and announcing when guests arrived (“Mommy and Daddy, Peoples is in our HOOUSSSEEEE!!”), and Henry helped me by picking up the toys in the living room, taking coats, and getting drinks. He pretended he was a waiter. It was pretty funny. He refused to let me take his picture, but at one point he had a kitchen towel draped over his arm. He has asked that we serve PB Sushi at our next “fancy grown up party”.

Hormel Gatherings Party Trays are available at Walmart, so you can pick one up on your next visit while gathering other party supplies.

I’m giving one reader a chance to share Hormel Gatherings Party Trays at their next get together! One lucky reader will win a coupon for $15 off the purchase of any one Hormel Gatherings Party Tray 28 oz. or larger.

Entering is easy: Just leave a comment with your favorite holiday beverage to serve at parties. I’ll choose one winner on December 5, 2017.