Last Friday was my grandmother’s birthday, so we went to Leavenworth for the weekend. We’d taken her there for the first time last year and randomly ended up being there for the Autumn Leaf Festival, apparently the oldest festival the town has, and it’s a ton of fun. They shut down the main street for a big parade on Saturday along with a youth circus and a car show on Sunday. And of course, Leavenworth just has a ton of fun stuff to do any day of the year.

It may be a planned tourist community, but for whatever reason, it’s a great place to visit. I haven’t quite figured out how they set things up to make it a such a fun place without feeling awful resort-y, but they have. If you’re ever in the area, it’s absolutely worth the visit. That said, my grandmother had such a great time last year that we’ve now made it a tradition to go every year (if you can call two years and plans for next year a tradition).

We stayed in a cute little A frame cabin through AirBnB this trip, and it was such a perfect spot that I think we will try and book the same place next year. A little outside of town, but on a quiet street backed up to a hillside with plenty of space for all of us and a wood burning fireplace in the center of the home. It was well stocked, to include a ton of legos, which is all our son wanted to do when we were hanging out at the house. Apparently he’s old enough now for the regular sized ones instead of just the intro Duplos.

First time really playing with the big legos

If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We love the flexibility it gives us while traveling as a family – full kitchen, laundry, and extra bathrooms, and it’s usually considerably cheaper than a hotel, especially when you travel as a group. Plus plenty of places are like this ones, with toys and games or other supplies that can really enhance your stay. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for $40 off your first stay (affiliate link).

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. I’m kicking off another No Spend challenge this month thanks to a suggestion from a member of my No Spend Facebook group. A shout out to the members there because they are a great group of accountability partners and I really enjoy doing these sorts of challenges as a group.

I’d been kicking around the idea of doing another one for a while now, but I hadn’t taken the plunge. The original challenge last November was such a game changer for our finances, but I’ve loosened up a little bit since then. While we still spend WAY less than we did even this time last year, I’ve relaxed the purse strings some over the subsequent months.

Less than a week in, and I can already see how different my mindset is when I’m doing an official challenge. I’ve been tracking all year, but I kept finding myself having to backtrack because I wasn’t writing everything down as the purchases were happening. Ive found that doing it intentionally for a month, especially publicly, makes a huge difference for me. Good odds that I’ll pick a month every year from here on out as my challenge month just to help “reset” back to base spending.

2. Our neighborhood grocery store is a QFC (Kroger) and they have an app for downloading digital coupons. Since we don’t buy a ton of processed foods, I don’t often find a ton of coupons on there for our standard list, but this time there were a couple coupons for what we do buy, including Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Not a huge savings, but considering all it took was to click a couple buttons in the app right before checkout, it felt like a big win. Now I just have to remember to scan through the app once a week to load the coupons before we go grocery shopping.

3. It’s been a few weeks, but I got the opportunity to run to work again on Wednesday. Of course, it’s dark that early now and COLD. It’s officially fall now, and 39 degrees certainly felt like it. At least it wasn’t raining. Still, I ran the whole way, saving myself the $2.75 bus fare and got an hour of exercise in to start the day. I still have yet to figure out how to regularly go car free for my commute more than one or two days a week, and I think anything more will have to wait until I finally get myself a bike.

Foggy, cold morning run but at least it was dry

4. We ate no take out again during the week this week, keeping our restaurant spending completely to the days we were in Leavenworth over the weekend. I have absolutely no issue with spending money on meals out, which should be obvious when you look at how much of our overall spending is on food and drink, but we’ve done a much better job on keeping the bulk of those meals to weekend trips and longer vacations.

We used to just pick up take out at least once or twice a week when we just felt too busy with other things and didn’t want to cook. Instead this week we made one meal that covered multiple dinners so all we had to do was heat it up the following night. Leftovers really are the frugal analog for take out, especially when the meal is really tasty to begin with.

Another night was ramen of course

5. I’ve been using my gym membership at least once a week these days, which feels so good. Obviously not the 3+ days I used to go before we had a kid, but four times a month at least makes it feel worthwhile. The membership costs me just under $18 a month, so if I go once a week that’s $4.50/session.

I did keep it for quite some time when I was going less often than that, but at the price I’m grandfathered in at, it was hard to give up because I knew I would never pay that price again. I’ve had my gym membership through two ownership changes, and with each one the general membership price has gone up, but my price hasn’t gone up once. For that reason, it’s absolutely been worth hanging on through the season of fewer gym trips, but it appears that time is finally coming to a close. I’m just a happier person when I get my workouts in, and not just running.

Running Update

Like I just mentioned, I’ve been getting to the gym regularly again, and Monday was no exception. I’m still working my way up from lower weights than I’m used to, but they ARE going up again for the first time in years, and it feels awesome. Tuesday was a short run and Wednesday was my run to work. I was still a bit sore from Monday, so between that and the cold, it was a bit less enjoyable than it has been lately, but still totally worth it.

While I haven’t been tracking as closely since completing The Smart FI’s June 500,000 step challenge, it definitely upped my average monthly step count. September was the first month I fell short, but just barely, at 489,394. I blame the lack of long runs on Wednesdays because those are almost always 20,000+ step days. Hopefully I can get back over that 500,000 count in October.

Have you kept a subscription before (like my gym membership) with the plan to use it more in the future to lock in the price? Do you think it’s worth it?

43 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 – Week 40)

  1. Leavenworth sounds like a cute place to visit. I also love AirBnB’s they are just so handy and a great idea.

    Congrats to the little guy and graduating into real lego….has he started his wish list yet?

    1. Ha no… good news for him is my mom saved a huge box of legos from when my youngest brother graduated out of playing with them 🙂

    1. Ehem… I know I need to get on this soon. I’ve at least talked to my husband’s godfather and we’re going to check out the used bike shop one of these days.

  2. I LOVE the Kroger app! They even do occasional loyal customer rewards that give you special coupons and free items based on your frequent purchases and it is AWESOME. Can’t wait to see how your no-spend challenge goes 🙂

    1. Oh I didn’t realize the Kroger app did the loyal customer rewards too! We get those in the mail, but maybe the app coupons are extras??

  3. i love airbnb’s. i wish more owners would realize the great benefit of leaving some toys/games and some kitchen basics like sugar/flour/ maybe a couple of condiments to optimize a guest’s stay. oh, and if i owned one i would leave plenty of ice in the freezer.

    i made a gigantic pot of texas chili last sunday and we ate that in various forms all week, including on #muffuritos. i baked bread twice too this week now that the weather is cooler. i love fall and running around with the mighty dog has been much more fun.

    1. Seriously. The basics make such a big difference in the comfort of the stay, but it definitely varies wildly depending on the place. I try and mention that sort of thing in my review to a heads up to future guests.

  4. If you’ve got a really low price, I think it makes sense to keep it even through those lean months when you’re not able to go because it’ll average out again when you ramp back up to a new normal.

    I’ve only stayed at AirBNB traveling solo, but I think it’d be really nice to do when we’re traveling as a family one of these days.

    1. Yeah, exactly my thought process. If it was a higher cost line item I may have cancelled it, but when it comes in at just $200 for the whole year, it’s been worth keeping even when I haven’t been regularly.

  5. 39 degrees already!? 😱 that is just too darn cold.

    I totally hear you on feeling better when getting more exercise. I feel like that could be a reason I’ve felt a lot more tired over the past few months since I haven’t been getting consistent workouts or running in.

    1. Yeah, it feels way too early to be seeing numbers in the 30s! It’s like we went straight from summer to winter and skipped fall entirely.

  6. I am still not where you are at but I got over 13,000/day in September. I hope to reach 15,000 but with the cold weather, not sure how brave I will be:)
    At the price you have your membership, It sounds totally worth it to me! Cheers

    1. 13k average is fabulous! The step count has been a slow creep up over the past few years.

  7. yay Leavenworth! You’ve got to go to Solvang in California sometime, it’s another Danish village and it is awesome! We have a hard time deciding which we like more, but I think Solvang wins. They have amazing european food there, we were disappointed Leavenworth didn’t have the same, I think there was really just the one German place. Ah, now I want a vacation somewhere I can eat stroopwafels and aebleskivers….mmm….

    1. Hmmmm yeah I’ve never been to Solvang but with that kind of recommendation I think I may need to add it to the list 🙂

  8. I know what you’re going through with the gym membership payment.
    When i first joined a gym, I knew the one I signed up for was one of the better deals out there and so I signed up for knowing I would go more frequently down the line. I was so busy with school at that time and only hit the gym once a week or every two weeks. But once I got done with school and I finished my gym payments, I went there 3-4 times a week. I became a gym rat and looked forward to getting my workouts in every time. I only had to pay $20 a year after the initial gym payments were done and really took advantage of it by going so much.

    1. I honestly love going to the gym to work out. Some people swear by the home gym, but having one a few blocks away works way better for me.

  9. I hear ya, the weather is changing and I’m not ready. It was pouring rain today on my run. I love the QFC app and especially the Friday/Saturday deal, but nothing beats the Friday freebee. Today it is a pouch of tuna. Hmm, what can I make with that. I barely cracked the 400,000 step mark for September. After 500,000 steps in each of the summer months, it was probably time for a break.

    I get a laugh out of my comments to these frugal 5 posts because they are all over the place. lol 🙂

    1. I am so not ready for the rainy day runs. I have to admit, I hopped on the treadmill last week instead because I wasn’t feeling getting wet quite yet.

  10. Regarding your official participation in the no purchase challenge, tracking can be difficult. I do this with my food by using an app called Carb Manager.

    Over the past year, I’ve been on a fairly strict ketogenic diet for the long-term health benefits and need to pay attention to my carbohydrate intake and macronutrients (grams of fat and protein). By following the diet, your body produces ketone bodies which enable energy to come from your fat stores as opposed to carbohydrates (primarily in the form of glucose).

    For my first 3 months on the lifestyle diet, I would ballpark a lot of what I ate but would often undercount, overlook, or miss altogether what I ate. In the last 9 months of tracking everything I eat with the app in real time, I’ve noticed my ketone levels have trended up and consistently been in a desired range. By logging everything in real time, you notice how difficult it is in the beginning to track everything. And by doing this consistently however, it becomes far more natural and almost second nature. I’ve had great success in my time on the diet and feel that tracking was hard at first but produces real results over time.

    I hope you experience the same norming with your challenge tracking!

    1. Yep, I’ve tracked calories closely in the past as well and found the same thing. But I find that with both food and money, the “second nature” bit only lasts so long until I have to pay closer attention and do a reset.

    1. Yeah, the seventy and eighty degree weather has left us now until at least May or June.

  11. It sounds like we are working on some of the same things right now. I have found as a blogger how much harder it is to get to the gym and cut eating out because of spending so much time producing content. I applaud you for working towards these things and I know what a struggle they are. Keep it up! You are encouraging me even more to get myself back to these things.

    1. Blogging takes up so much more time than I ever realized it would! I try and keep my writing days to just a few days a week though and that helps to make room for everything else.

  12. I think the main thing I need to optimize is food. I literally don’t buy myself anything other than food and drinks lol. Need to start doing some frugal challenges I guess.

    1. Ha yeah I hear you there. I realize I spend very little on things other than necessities, but food & vacation spending can get wildly out of control if I’m not careful.

  13. How far is the commute again? I can’t recall but it sure makes for an awesome way to get your daily exercise in. I think when you get that bike, put some fenders and panniers on it your life will transform. The No spend challenge is tough when it isn’t simple consumerism and looking at something like a bike that has a long term positive affect on your daily life.

    1. Six miles, but the way home is uphill for a good 3.5 miles or so, and things get pretty steep and miserable. I did bike it occasionally pre-kid, but it was not easy and not fun.

      1. Yep! No way I could run to work without having a shower available.

  14. I can’t believe that, as an Aussie, I know where Leavenworth is!! My online Seattle friend’s twin brother lives in Leavenworth & plays Santa (not the red suit version, but the Bavarian version) each year. He’s getting older, so it’s getting harder for him out in the cold, but he loves donating to Christmas cheer in that way. Glad you enjoyed a holiday there with your grandmother! A beautiful tradition to start, especially for your grandmother & your son. Blessings. Kerryn

    1. How fun!! We actually have never been to Leavenworth at Christmas time before, but we’d really like to make it out there for the tree lighting ceremony some time.

  15. Hah your comment about hanging onto a cheap gym membership price even on months you don’t go as often is what I’m going to use to console myself about how little I’ve managed to use my barre membership the last two months…

    1. Ha. Well, it is true as long as you get back to using it often after that period of a lull 😉

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