Sometimes the words just flow when I write blog posts. Today is not that day. I started these Friday Frugal Five posts pretty early on in this blog as a way to get inspired when I didn’t feel like writing or that I didn’t have anything to say, so I guess it’s serving its purpose once again 😉

1. We reached the minimum spend on the last billing cycle on my new Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, and the 50,000 sign up bonus has finally hit my account! I also used this referral link to have my husband sign up for his own card, so we’re well on our way to 110,000 Chase rewards points before factoring in the normal points earned through our regular spending (50,000 sign up bonus for each card plus the 10,000 referral bonus).

If you go this route as a couple, make sure to sign up for the card individually because you earn over double the points doing it this way. Our 10th anniversary is coming up at the end of next year so I’m currently stockpiling points to use for a big trip then (though we’re also talking about going back to Hawaii this coming winter when the weather isn’t so great here).

In another month or two I’ll open up another Chase card to continue the points accumulation. At this point, we’ve only used rewards for plane flights, but as we have the three of us (plus a babysitter in the form of a family member we bring with us on trips), it takes quite a few miles to fly us all anywhere.

Military Dollar has done an awesome series on her experiences with travel hacking, so if you want to know more from a personal perspective, I’d highly suggest checking some of her posts out. Though I am totally jealous of the waived annual fee from AmEx Platinum for being active duty military.

Heading back from Hawaii

2. I had left my car over the weekend at my parent’s house before we headed out for our camping trip and discovered one of the tires had gone completely flat over the three days we were gone thanks to a nail I’d driven over at some point. My husband got the spare tire on my car for me, and I drove it home since the place I got the tires from just a few months ago was in the complete opposite direction. (Note that I can change my own tire – and have in the past – but my husband did this as an act of love for me because I absolutely hate having to deal with anything car related. This goes for even just pumping my gas.)

I dropped my son off at preschool and then drove over to the shop that’s on the way to work. I had expected I would have to drop the car and then bus to work so they could work on it, but the guys there just pulled the flat tire out of my trunk and told me just to come back after work and they’d have it fixed for me, which was really awesome because I barely had time to get to work on time as it was.

When I got back early that afternoon, the place was packed, so I asked the guy at the front counter how long he thought it would be. He knew I was headed to pick up my son from preschool, so he squeezed me in and within 5 minutes I was driving away with the repaired tire, no charge.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I spend the $27 to get my oil changed at this place instead of doing it myself, and this is part of the reason beyond just time savings. I’ve been going there for 6 or 7 years now (a lot more frequently with my old car), and they always take fabulous care of me – and often don’t charge if it’s something minor. In previous situations, they’ve let me buy a part elsewhere and just done the install so I could save some money.

Apparently I don’t have very many photos of my car

I always try to be super friendly and nice, no matter how busy they might be, and creating a real connection and longevity with an independent auto shop has served me well. Plus, it makes it nicer on my end as well when I go somewhere and the people are happy I’m there because they know me. Makes our not so small town feel a little bit smaller.

3. I earned another $5 Amazon gift card through Bing rewards. Basically all you do for this is to sign in and then use Bing for any online searching you do instead of Google. I honestly don’t care what search engine I use most of the time, so I may as well get a (tiny) bit back for something I’m doing already. I get about one of these $5 rewards every month, so just $60 a year, but I’ll take it. I add the Amazon gift card to my account and then it’s like getting $5 off my next purchase, which I’d make with or without the gift card.

4. We’re not ones to do much to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’m honestly not sure if we’ve ever been out to dinner for the holiday – but my husband hates crowds and I’ve gone partially deaf in my right ear, so there’s not a big draw for us to go out on busy restaurant nights. We also spent our first Valentine’s Day “together” on opposite coasts, so we never made a tradition of it.

However, we did make chocolate chip pancakes from scratch for dinner this year, which made our son very happy. He made us a valentine at preschool earlier in the week, so he had some sense that it was a special day. And for us, special days tend to mean making something extra tasty at home.

Basically a cookie in pancake form

I had all the ingredients I needed already, so I didn’t have to do any shopping, which meant Valentine’s Day was a no spend day for us.

5. Again, I didn’t buy lunch all week (though one lunch was definitely just a couple of oranges and some instant oatmeal because I was too lazy to pack a real lunch). Amazingly, I’ve kept this streak up since at least October since I started documenting Friday’s Frugal Five.

At this point, I’m not sure I’d be willing to buy lunch out because then I’d have to report back here and ruin my streak. Maybe I can go a whole year without buying lunch at work. That would be some serious savings right there considering last year I spent an average of probably $10/day on work lunches, which would have worked out to about $200/month. Yikes. Goes to show how little habits can really add up and cost you a lot of money.

So maybe I had more to say today than I thought. Sometimes, just like when I’m going for a run, it just takes a little bit of time to get in the flow and then it gets easier and more fun.

How was your week? Any fun and frugal events to share? How did (or didn’t) you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

26 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 7)

  1. I like your Frugal Fives! I started to comment and found I was saying something on each of your points. And really what I was seeing is value and optimization! Which for my weird analytical, logical PM brain is what does it for me. Anyway!

    That pancake looks ammaaazing and makes me wish I had it in front of me NOW! We skip valentines day in favour of getting fancy half priced chocolate the next day.

    As for the lunches, you can do it!! *cheering section*

    1. Hey, that’s what I’m going for! And thank you for the cheering section – lunch/coffee out is STILL such a hard habit for me to keep away!

  2. look forward to your frugal five posts. Frugality is the easiest way to save/keep more of your money. Credit card churning and travel hacking are quite profitable if done correctly; use the card to pay for things you would normaly pay for anyway.

    1. Glad you enjoy them! And that’s exactly right about travel hacking. The best part is when we get to use reimbursable work expenses as well 🙂

  3. I like this Friday Frugal Five concept! We need to get on the travel rewards credit card train and fast! I finally got back to biking to work a couple days this week after more than a month hiatus, so that feels fairly frugal. Trying to get a side hustle going by scooping up under-priced thrift store finds and reselling them, but not a lot of traction so far. What’s Valentine’s Day? 🙂

    1. I’m definitely getting hooked on the travel rewards thing! If only you were closer, you could have all my thrift store donations 😂

    1. They were so good – though I’m not huge on chocolate so I could have gone for half the amount 😉

  4. We are thinking of going for the Southwest companion pass and tons of miles starting next year, once the 2-year-no-cards time runs out for us. Will report on how that works out if we do it. Already did the Chase bonus miles, and a Delta one too, but those flights have all been burned with weddings and family illnesses.
    Those are some nice looking cookie-pancakes, whatever inspired that? 😉
    The only time I buy lunch at work is if I’m specifically going out to lunch with a coworker to get to know them better. I think since I started here like 15 months ago, that would be about… 6 times? You can do it!

    1. We don’t ever fly southwest, so I’m struggling a little to decide which card I want to open next. And you know exactly what inspired those pancakes! 😉

  5. I didn’t know about that Bing Amazon thing! Thanks for the tip. Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year that reducing our restaurant spending is the easiest goal. I can’t stand the crowds! Oh, and Mother’s day too. 🙂

    1. Yeah, it’s not a big bonus, but it’s something I get for doing nothing special, so I’m all for it. And yeah – any big holidays make it easy to avoid restaurants.

  6. You can absolutely do a year with no bought lunches–how awesome would that be?! Come to think of it, I’ve only bought one in recent memory, and that was to discuss the internal position I just applied for, so worth it!

    I just had a post-lunch piece of the discount chocolate I bought yesterday! Yum 😉

    1. Maybe after a full year the habit will be well and truly broken! And now you’ve made me want some (milk) chocolate.

  7. Hey great week! Bummer about the nail in the car tire but it’s so nice when you can trust the people you take your car to – and they will keep taking care of you!

    Your pancakes do look awesome!

    Usually we don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day – but Mr. DS manages to always sneak something in…such as a surprising me with a bottle of white wine and a box of dark chocolates with caramel…(one of my favs!) which we will both enjoy and savor!

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Hazards of working for a construction/development company. Not my first nail unfortunately. But yes, the place I go to is the best.

  8. I’m so jealous of your ability to find a reasonable mechanic! Our last service costs us like $700 Australian dollars, of which half was what our mechanic charged for two hours of work. We also need to take our car in again but I just can’t phantom paying that much again! How did you guys find such a reasonable place?

    1. Ouch. That seems really high. Honestly I’ve been going there so long now I don’t remember. I think maybe I asked around and someone recommended them? But I really got to know them well when I had an old beater car that needed regular (minor) repairs lol

  9. So I’ve never travel hacked before… this is something I really need to look at later this year. Luckily I have about 50,000 points right now just from regular spending on my credit cards over the past 2-3 years! This may or may not come in handy soon as I’m currently planning a week long Europe trip with friends in a few months…

    That’s so nice the auto shop repaired that free of charge though!

    Also, I don’t know my streak of not going out for work lunch, but it’s definitely been a while! I’m thinking since last May-June timeframe, but I’d have to look back through my monthly statements which I’m just not committed to this Friday night haha.

    Great Friday Frugal Five!

    1. Yeah we’ve taken a number of trips from our Alaska card with regular spending, but as we’re starting to fly a bit more often these days (and there are more of us now), it was time to up my game and start actually opening a few cards. Ps – don’t plan on Alaska for a Europe trip 😉

  10. That’s a really great tip on the BING search rewards! I also love your Chase strategy. I’m sadly hitting up against their 5/24 rule of late. I go hard after just about every high bonus card there is it seems, so they’re on to me. Did you look into the Chase Reserve? I understand that bad boy is loaded with bonus points, but has a higher annual fee?
    PS – Isn’t getting a V-day from your preschooler the bomb?!? We really enjoyed that too this year. 🙂

    1. I looked into the CSR but the $450 annual fee turned me off. I may go that route eventually, but we need to be sure we’re doing enough air travel every year to make it worth it. And yeah, the little guy was so proud of the valentine he made us 😊

  11. We celebrated V-Day for the first time by not going out. I went to my normal boot camp workout and Charles had dinner ready for me when I got home. It was a perfectly relaxing evening.

    In order to stop buying lunch out (which Charles did often and I did not because school food is Bleh!) we cooked double the amount for dinner and just brought leftovers. It has been a long time since lunch out for us.

    Also I love all of your personal pictures.

    And I really want chocolate chip pancakes now. 🙂

    1. Cooking extra for lunches has been a serious lifesaver for me. I hardly ever have to think about what to bring to lunch these days. On the few days I don’t have leftovers, I make a pb&j sandwich or have instant oatmeal. Basically I never make lunch these days, but always have something to bring 🙂

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