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.
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.
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.
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.
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?