Fresh Pasta: The Ultimate Frugal Luxury

By on February 17, 2017

FRESH PASTA!

If you have never undertaken the task of making your own fresh pasta, you are missing out on some seriously delicious stuff! It’s incredible how much better the taste and texture of homemade pasta is from the boxed stuff. Now, I’ll admit I don’t take the time to do it very often, but when I do, it’s soooo worth it. I feel like I get a little taste of Italy right in the comfort of my home. (A trip to Bella Italia is on our someday list, but not for quite a few years!) (more…)


Frugal Friday: DIY Laundry Detergent

By on January 13, 2017

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…

The other day I whipped up some of this nifty DIY laundry detergent in about ten minutes! 

When I first heard about this from my sisters-in-law several years ago, my reaction was sort of indifferent. I thought it was all well and good, but figured we didn’t spend that much on laundry detergent anyway. It didn’t seem worth the effort to save maybe 20 bucks a year.  (more…)

Frugal Friday: Six Fabulous Frugal RecipesĀ 

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?


Frugal Friday First Edition: Sales, sales, sales!

By on November 4, 2016

Today, we’re kicking off our new series: Frugal Friday! Here, we plan to share various tips and tricks for living more frugally. And of course, we’ll post these on Fridays, for two reasons. Reason #1: So we can dub them Frugal Friday! Alliteration is fun! Reason #2: A more serious reason. Fridays begin the weekend, when many are prone to spending more. We hope these ideas, even if they’re not new to you, may give you an extra boost of motivation in your own frugal journey.

Why Frugality?

Saving money is something most of us probably care about on some level, no matter how we each define frugality. One person’s frugal vacation is tent camping, while another’s is Super 8. One person’s frugal clothes store is Target, while another’s is the local thrift shop. One person’s frugal dinner may be Taco Bell, another’s may be PB and J. Terms such as expensive or cheap are relative to our upbringing, our income, and our current goals. 

We, the CODs, are not the people who always choose the least expensive route for every item we buy. Certain things we like to get in a higher quality so they’ll last longer. Neither are we complete misers. We don’t deprive ourselves of all things comfortable just for deprivation’s sake. 

Mr. COD and I see our lifestyle as a comfortable balance of frugality and luxury. We’re fortunate to have more than enough of everything we need. Nothing, whether financial or otherwise, is permanent, so we approach our lifestyle as an ever-evolving thing. We are so thankful for all that we’ve learned and put into place in the past year, and we know it’s not necessarily because we deserve it. Wisdom in decision-making is always an area of needed improvement.

Merely tossing a few frugal tricks into our routine might not make a huge difference on our overall trajectory, but what can it hurt to try? It all depends on what our personal finance goals are. Getting out of debt? Frugal habits will definitely help get us on our way. Saving for retirement? Yes, frugality has potential there too (two reasons: helping you save more, and helping you require less when retired). Starting a dream business, relocating, adopting a child, paying for college, buying a car/house, and on and on…these are all expensive! These goals are more within reach through frugality. For us, paying off debts + amped-up frugality = me becoming a stay-at-home parent for a year or more. That’s pretty sweet math.

Whatever your financial goals may be, adopting a more frugal, less spendy attitude can work wonders. We determine our own level of frugality based on where we are and what we need/want. What do you want, and what are you willing to sacrifice to get it? 

Advertising, The Bane of Frugality

One particular consumer-centric fact of today that drives me absolutely crazy is the sheer amount of advertising we encounter day in and day out. It can be next to impossible to drown out the nonstop noise of consumerism. 

  • “The clock’s ticking on the season’s lowest prices!” 
  • “Only a few hours left to save 20%!”
  • “Incredible doorbusters only on Saturday morning!”
  • “A deal this great won’t last long!”

Such are the lines marketers feed us day after day, all to get us to buy their crap. You know the drill all too well. They create a perceived need  and an urgent deadline (only for a limited time!) and before we know it, we’ve got cartfuls of junk we didn’t need or even really want.  

The get-this-deal-while-it-lasts mentality is aggravating. Putting a time limit on a discount makes the deal appear ultra-sensational. Oh, the regret that will plague us if we don’t jump in and buy it now! It works all too often.

I think back to when we bought our timeshare, and I ask myself, why on earth didn’t we say, hey, if it’s such a great deal, let’s think it through overnight? (Mr. COD researched cars and dealers for six months before we bought our Pontiac Vibes. Thoughtful spending is usually our default.) Why didn’t one of us have the sense to say, no, this is a huge financial decision, so we shouldn’t be hasty? Because they got us to believe it was an awesome deal for that day only, and they never gave out this many bonus points, and blah blah blah. If we’d waited 24 hours, we definitely wouldn’t have purchased the timeshare. Our sanity would have returned by morning.

So it goes with any type of sales; the seller or marketer creates this false sense of urgency. (I know I’m sounding harsh on marketers, but I get it. No judgement here. It’s your job.) We the consumers need to be more aware of our decision-making process and be smarter with our $$. Mr. COD and I have made plenty of spendy mistakes due to lack of patience. I’d bet you have, too. Split-second decisions involving our money don’t generally turn out well. Signing for a car lease. Buying a home. Even buying a pair of shoes or a book or a smoothie can be bad for us if it happens too often and derails us from reaching our frugal goals. 

The 24-hour rule is a good guideline. You see something you like and want to buy, but instead of forking over the money instantly, wait a day and see if you still want it. That’s what I’m trying nowadays, and I know it’ll help. Other variations might work for you: 3 days, a week, even a month or more, whatever gives you the time to step back a bit. Think it over. Assess your desire and need for the item. Don’t just buy it because it’s “on sale”. 

Much of the time, after a cooling-off period of a day or two, you find you don’t want the item anymore. (I always find this to be true with clothes! My heart longs for a fun new sweater, but once I’ve left the dressing room and stepped away from said sweater, that longing fades into oblivion.) Maybe you still want that concert ticket, that sound system, that new coat, but determine your other financial goals are more valuable than the temporary high of buying.

So, your tip for this weekend is, if you find yourself wanting to buy something that’s really not a need, don’t buy it right then. Even if there’s a big sale and the price will go up tomorrow, make yourself wait 24 hours. Detach yourself emotionally from the item and what pleasure you think it will bring you. Remember another *once-in-a-lifetime sale is bound to appear in a week anyway! 

*Possible exception to following the 24-hour rule if you’re a Cubs fan and need to splurge a bit on some championship gear or celebratory activities! It’s been 108 years; this very well may be truly once in your lifetime! Enjoy it!

What kinds of rules do you have for yourself and your purchases? Is there a certain amount of money you won’t spend without a 24-hour cooling-off period?