Frugal Friday: Free Summer Fun 

By on May 5, 2017

Hey, guys! Happy Cinco de Mayo! I almost forgot to share my post “6 Free or Cheap Summer Fun Ideas” from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff! I’m here to share some ideas for your frugal summering. Fun does NOT have to cost a lot of dough, but we sometimes need to plan ahead for free summer fun. Lots of you already do many of these, such as hiking and biking!

Young explorers!

I can hardly believe it is May already. I know time moves at the same pace no matter what, but it sure feels fast to me lately. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that we BOUGHT A HOUSE a few weeks ago and we’re moving in ONE MONTH! So there is a ton to do around here to get ready for the move. 

JUST KIDDING! Not our new house 😉

We still intend to enjoy plenty of frugal fun this upcoming summer as we settle into our new home and new town. Head on over to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff to read the article! 

Our actual new house! It has tons of trees and space; we can’t wait!

Tell us, friends, what are your must-do summer fun activities? Is there something you’re willing to spend a bit more money to do, or are you strictly frugal?


Frugality Report: February

By on February 28, 2017

Awesome frugality or not, February has been a good time for us. I’m doing more freelance writing, Mr. COD is busy interviewing, we enjoyed a frugal birthday for our two-year-old, and our weather here in IL has been freaking INCREDIBLE. 

Here are some of our frugal highlights for this month!

  • No Valentine’s Day gifts or dinner out. In typical COD fashion, we kept it low-key. I baked my heart cookies the weekend beforehand, which we enjoyed for several days (and had plenty extra to take to church). I did get a kick out of seeing the multitude of guys purchasing flowers, balloons, and candy the night before!
  • I finally went to a children’s resale shop that is literally two blocks from our house. I happened to end up there on a sale day when all clothing was $1! Wahoo! That sale scored us a bunch of stuff for Junior COD, which was great since we’re starting to run out of hand-me-downs as he grows bigger. I found two sets of swim trunks and rash guards, several shirts, a pair of pants, and some really nice sneakers for him, all for $13.50. Only the shoes were “full” price, which was $4. Much better than $15-20 or more, which is not uncommon for kids’ shoes. 
  • I refreshed my pasta-making skills a couple of times, and my technique is improving!
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  • Last week I also took on (for the first time) Mrs. Picky Pincher’s homemade tortilla recipe, which was a big win! It’s a super-duper easy recipe to follow. If you want to check out her new e-book, that’s where I found this recipe (plus a ton more recipes and a detailed four-week meal plan): 
  • Slash Your Grocery Bills In 28 Days: Eat like royalty on a shoestring budget

    Tasty tortillas!

  • Mini COD’s birthday festivities were fun, but also mellow, as we’d hoped! On the actual birthday, we grilled out for lunch on our deck (never thought we’d do that for a February birthday in the Midwest). I made his cake from a boxed mix because I had one in the pantry and just wasn’t in the mood to make it from scratch. His PJ Masks figures became the cake toppers instead of getting wrapped up, and they’re perfect little toys for him. We didn’t have a party, just the four of us at home, a few presents, and cake, and it was just right. Since we’re both homebodies and slightly lazy when it comes to celebrating, and he’s too little to care, it was perfect for us! 

    that’s about as fancy as my decorating gets!

  • A trip to the children’s museum was a big hit one Saturday. It does have an admission fee, but since we squeaked in there before Mini’s second birthday, he got in for free! Woohoo!
  • The nicest weekend weather led us to Madison and the Henry Vilas Zoo, which is totally free! We met Mr. COD’s sister and her family for the day and the boys were ecstatic to hang with their cousins and aunt and uncle. It was so gorgeous out that we ate a lovely picnic by the lake as well. Super frugal fun!  

    not sure what exhibit this was…

  • Our Madison picnic view…an icy lake on a 65° day!


    the view of the zoo from the adjacent park

 

Frugality Fails:

  • Groceries got waaaay out of hand this month, which is a bummer after we kicked some grocery budget butt during Uber Frugal January. We got lazy and got back into old habits like going to the market four days in a row. That’s what happens when we don’t plan meals and shopping! Over $500 in the shortest month of the year = dang it!
  • Along the same lines, we ate out quite a bit. Honestly, though, we’re not sorry. We found an awesome new sitter the boys love, and dating your spouse is important! Once those kiddos are grown up, it’ll be just Mr. COD and me again, so we gotta stay connected. 
  • Too many gifts for Mini COD! We gave him two resale shop board games, which were cheap, but he’s still not ready to play them. He liked the other toys we ended up buying, but a week later, they’re already largely forgotten. Plus (and this is the worst part), Junior COD was definitely watching, so he’s been sharing his birthday wish list for the past week. Whoops. We may have set too high a precedent for him that will make it harder to stay frugal and limited when he turns 4. Plus, that’s not for another three months…sigh…

How about you guys? Any big frugal wins or flops this month? Hey, at least if we failed, it can’t be as big a gaffe as that one on Oscar night…

Free Board Games

By on February 10, 2017

On Christmas, we discovered that Junior COD is now into board games, so more game time is on the docket. Anything that provides a respite from dinosaur toys and television is a parenting win in my book! So this past week, I pulled my Crafty Self out of storage and cobbled together my version of this game he’d played with family over the holidays. Hence, I bring you our Frugal Friday activity of the week: homemade board games!

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Me Time That Won’t Cost A Dime

By on January 28, 2017

Me time may sound selfish or impossible for you, but everyone needs a little “me time” once in awhile (or every day). That’s time you set aside to do something purely for YOU! It helps you recharge, contemplate, question, discover. I have to be more deliberate in seeking out this me time since becoming a SAHM; it’s just hard to catch a break from kids.  (more…)


Frugal Friday: Six Fabulous Frugal Recipes 

By on December 16, 2016

Happy Frugal Friday to you! And happy first day of holiday break to my old coworkers–I know you’ll be practically dancing down the halls today! Everyone knows you can save money by giving homemade gifts. It doesn’t make you cheap; it frees you to give to more of the awesome people in your life. For the DIY gifter, here are a few of my top recipes. Since I cannot sew or paint or build things, homemade holiday treats are my favorite route to take for frugal generosity. All they’ll cost you: simple ingredients and maybe a few festive gift bags or boxes. 

Yum!

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Frugal Friday: 11 Free Holiday Activities To Do With Kiddos!

By on December 2, 2016

This week’s Frugal Friday comes at the start of December, when we all tend to fill our calendars with a flurry of holiday activities. December, Advent, Christmas, and the holiday season are rife with opportunities for fun! It can become a bit overwhelming. I thought I’d share a few of our favorite frugal holiday fun ideas, specifically those that work for kids (although many are a blast whether you’re with tots or not).  (more…)


Frugal Friday: Escape to the Forest

By on November 11, 2016

I’m going to keep this one short. I feel a little strange even posting about frugality stuff after the emotional chaos of the past week, but carrying on with our own personal goals is vital. No matter how the election may affect us individually and as a nation, we must take charge of our lives and the circumstances we can control. Being smart with our money still matters.We could all benefit from an escape to the forest, like I’m enjoying today. 

Regardless of the vote you cast, you are likely a bit on edge. It’s been a rough campaign and a rough election week for all, and now we desperately need a break from politics. So today’s Frugal Friday encouragement is this: take some time to get into nature. Get some free therapy in the forest. De-stress by going outside. Breathe in the crisp fall air. View the “supermoon” that’s due to appear on Monday.  

Forest preserves and public parks are everywhere. Even if you can’t find time during daylight hours (it’s tough with these shortening days), take a flashlight and go for a walk before sunrise one morning. If it’s too cold and you dread bundling up, take a drive to stare at mountains or a lake or a freshly harvested cornfield. (Yes, I’m from Illinois and I actually do find cornfields quite beautiful in their own right.) 

Romping in crunchy leaves

Autumn in our neck of the woods has been absolutely unbelievable. So many lovely, sun-drenched days have more than satisfied my vitamin D requirements! The boys and I have been making the most of our relaxed schedule by getting outside daily for play and fun. When the cold arrives (and it’s coming…our first freeze will be tonight!), we’ll bundle up and go out anyway.

The outdoor world is free for our enjoyment. No need to go pay zoo admission or spend $50 to pick someone else’s apples. Just find a park and explore. State parks are also a great option. Yes, there’s sometimes a fee, but if you get a yearly pass and use it frequently, it’s fairly inexpensive. 

Nothing revives my spirit like quiet hours in nature, away from screens. (Okay, moments of peace alternating with my boys shouting like maniacs as they run off some of that boundless energy.) Somehow, hope for our future seems easier to grasp when watching a deer bound across a meadow or watching children delight in running all-out through a pile of leaves.

Our little explorers

We just discovered the forest preserve pictured here about a year ago, and it’s become one of our top hangouts. It took us years to find and start utilizing the gorgeous spaces around us for free entertainment, but it’s never too late. We had been feeling a bit lacking in natural escapes in our town. This one is only a fifteen-minute drive from us, and from how deserted it usually is, it must be a bit of a well-kept secret. Trails, fields, fishing ponds, wildlife, picnic pavilions… it’s got all we need.

I hope you all are able to take some time, whether half an hour or all day, to appreciate the wonder of the outdoors. Nature is awesome. Check out your area, see what’s nearby, and go have a frugal adventure! 

Remember to thank a veteran today as well. We owe a great debt to our military men and women and their families.

How do you prefer to detox from the world and everyday stress? What nature activities and other free entertainment do you enjoy?


“He likes the box more than the toys.”

By on July 16, 2016

I have no shame admitting we have bought very few new toys for our kids. As a matter of fact, I take great pride admitting it. Our kids have plenty of toys they enjoy; still too many despite efforts to curb the inflow of presents into our home.

I get it. I too have found myself in the bowels of the toy section in Walmart looking at all the cool stuff my kids would love (and I would like to play with). (more…)