If you hadn’t seen her countdown in the comments over the last few posts, Budget Epicurean will be in town this weekend! Blog friends turned real life friends are the absolute best. She’s never been to this area before, and I’m looking forward to showing her around so she can see how awesome the Pacific Northwest is (thanks weather, for cooperating).
We will be wine tasting, hiking, cooking together, and enjoying the beautiful weather. Maybe I’ll never convince her that the Northwest is better than the Southeast, but I’ll certainly try.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Now that we’re into May, I’m officially 14 months into my clothing ban. While my goal was to simply make it one full year, I haven’t needed to buy anything new, so I’m going to continue this for as long as possible. I will need to buy some underwear this year, but now I’m thinking about waiting until I can get a gift card from credit card rewards and then use that to buy some. I’ll still be purchasing something new, but at least I won’t be spending any money in the process.
Why do I still have – and use – a credit card that gives me somewhat subpar rewards compared to the travel hacking I’ve started? It’s my oldest card (and oldest of anything on my credit report, as my student loans were in my father’s name), so I will keep that card open and used pretty much forever, though I don’t use it much at all these days. I figure in a few months though I’ll have enough saved up for a $50 gift card to Target or Macy’s, which will be plenty to replace my underwear stash (and hopefully mean that I’ll be able to otherwise extend my clothing ban into the foreseeable future).
2. We headed to Leavenworth last weekend for the first time since last September. It’s one of our favorite weekend destinations outside of the Olympic Peninsula, but we generally don’t drive over the pass in the winter due to less than awesome road conditions.
We had gotten a Christmas gift from a couple of family members of a hotel stay in Leavenworth for back in February, but we hadn’t been able to use it then due to work conflicts. We ended up staying at the KOA in one of their small cabins (just beds, no toilet or kitchen) because we brought our dogs and wanted a place for them to hang out when we went into town for part of the time. We don’t bring them to busy areas with us because our one dog gets anxious around crowds and they’d rather just hang out in the quiet.
Because we stayed at a considerably cheaper place than the original hotel room (central downtown versus one mile outside of town), the Christmas present money covered our lodging, gas, and a good portion of our food and drink for the trip. We don’t mind walking, so staying a little bit further away isn’t a big deal, plus the KOA campground has a great playground and river access as well as a nice off-leash dog area and a pool in the warmer months, so it works really well for our family. Other than the distance, it’s superior to most of the hotels downtown as far as amenities go.
3. We went to visit some friends on Tuesday before they moved away, and our son got to bring home a little guitar that they weren’t taking with them. While I’m generally working on decluttering our home and minimizing the toys in our house, the guitar is a worthwhile one in my opinion and other toys can leave instead. I like the idea of tracking the objects we declutter from our home so that there is a sense of how much you’ve actually gotten rid of, but I haven’t done that yet.
4. The weather has been pretty great most of this week and our son has had a ton of time to play outside with the neighbor kids. I’ve written before about how great the community on our street is, and it’s clear that benefit will just continue to grow as our son gets older. While he’s not quite old enough to run down the street by himself to go find his friend, it won’t be long before he’ll be able to do that in the security of our tight knit community on our dead end street.
While they’re young, his parents and ours (and a few other families) can trade off keeping eyes on the little ones so we can run out for a minute without packing them up to go. It’s times like that I really feel the strength of our community and know we don’t ever want to move.
5. We got our tax refund check! We’ve had to pay a couple thousand dollars each of the past few years, but thanks to larger charitable contributions and more savings to retirement accounts, we didn’t end up owing this year even though we made a little bit more money. While I’d like to get a little bit closer to zero, it was pretty awesome to deposit an extra $570 check into our account this month. I do need to revisit our withholding this year though to make sure we stay on track to be close to zero for our 2018 tax return. With the new tax code, I don’t want to accidentally way over pay throughout the year and end up with a large refund next year. A small one is really nice, but a large one is money I would rather control throughout the year.
What are some of your frugal successes this week? I love celebrating the little wins all the time, because those add up to be big things over time.