Thursday, June 27, 2019

Incoming! (Space for our new freezer)

The freezer is going to be coming in a week or so.  I mostly just want to document that the laundry room was ever this clean....

Remember that it used to look like this and you'll see why I'm so proud:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Garage Sale

I promised AFTER photos so here they are:

We used 15 tables of varying sizes, plus a door placed between two tables, PLUS boxes of books on folding chairs.  And we needed every inch.  We got rid of a LOT of stuff!

The garage sale went quite well.  We made $537, although probably half of the items that brought in big money were from other people.  The dialog went something like this:

ME: "My husband wants to have a garage sale, although I keep telling him we don't have enough stuff."

FRIEND/BOSS/RELATIVE: Oh, I have some stuff I was just going to drop off at the thrift store.  Do you want it?

ME: Sure!  Do you want half the profits?

FRIEND/BOSS/RELATIVE: Nah.  Just keep it.  I was just going to donate the stuff anyway, and garage sales are a lot of work. 

So that's how we got the Wii, the steam mop, the party dresses, and the scooters.  We did have some big things that were ours: the bodhran, the pull-up bars, and the small table.  We probably priced things way too cheap, but, hey, they are out the door.

My biggest garage sale tips are:
1) Join a neighborhood garage sale if possible
2) "All unmarked items .25" - or .50, or whatever.  Saves SO MUCH time!
3) Signs: "All plants $3"  "All books _____" "All fabric = make an offer."
4) Start working on it a few months in advance.  It's still way too much work for the $ you'll get, but you won't notice as much!
5) Try to have at least three people there for safety as well as convenience.  Oh, and occasionally bring the profits into the house in case you do get robbed.
6) If someone does want their profits back (or part of their profits back) then they need to do their own pricing.

I actually rather enjoyed this garage sale.  Most of the work was done in a leisurely fashion, and it felt good to get things out of the house.  We made more than enough to pay for the freezer.  People were quite pleasant despite the heat.  I like sales.  It was all good.

It's still my last one, just because there are other things I'd rather do more.  But it wasn't a bad experience.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Garage Sale

We're having a garage sale.  (Not my idea.  His.  I vowed never again after the last one!)

We're buying a freezer (for garden produce and grocery store deals!) and the best place to put the freezer currently has boxes filled with craft stuff.

I'm never planning to craft for $ again.  It's not worth it.  For fun, yes.  As in, to make our home attractive or for gifts.  And I might try to sell some craft just for fun because I like sales.  But as a revenue stream - no.

So there's lots I can get rid of.

Here's BEFORE:

Here's DURING....

Hopefully AFTER will happen eventually!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Paying Off the House Part II: How We Did It

Warning: This really isn’t all that dramatic.. but it’s not that hard, either.

Here's what we did:
  • We paid off our credit cards every month and never had to pay interest on them.
  • We lived slightly better than we did as college students.  We avoided lifestyle creep, where you gradually buy nicer and nicer things, go on bigger and better vacation, have to have the latest greatest bill-in-the-blank because you are able to.  I think lifestyle creep is a huge reason that many middle-class folks people don’t save much.  (“Let’s buy it because we can afford it now” is such a bad idea!)   We pretty much do it our way, and spend money where we value it, and not where everyone else says we should.  That is enormously liberating and really cheap.
  • A lot of being able to pay off the house early came from a total lack of interest in keeping up with the Joneses.  Our friends are ordinary folk, many of whom are also pretty frugal, usually so that they can afford to have a stay-at-home parent.  I don't try to keep up with our wealthier friends.  It helps that I don't particularly want expensive clothes or electronics — I’d just get chocolate on the clothes and break or lose the expensive toys!  (I’m very fond of chocolate — and really, really clumsy!)
Example: I work in an office with lots of elegantly dressed women. However, I own only two pairs of black shoes, black flats and sketchers.
  • We spend money on the stuff we truly enjoy like travel and board games, and sometimes biking and gardening. We don't spend it mindlessly or on autopilot. I have thrift store clothes but I joined my mom and sister on a trip to Europe one year and the next spent five weeks in Croatia, including nine days on an island in the Adriatic with my in-laws.  The fact that I do the one makes the other one much easier to afford.  Plus I don't feel deprived because I get to do want I really want to do.
  • What we do to entertain ourselves is more active.  We create things.  We do projects.  A bonus is that that helps us solve problems, like we’ll build our own shelving that is custom-designed for what we want to put on it.
  • We don't spend money we don't have. We save up or do without.
  • We avoid monthly bills.  I have a smart phone, for example, but it was a gift from a wealthier relation who is upgrading, and I've never gotten a plan for it because I don't want to pay that data plan every month.  We don't avoid monthly bills entirely, of course – who could?  But our little flip phone doesn't cost much.  (Actually, we should probably reevaluate that at some point and make sure that that is still true!)
  • Leisure doesn't have to be pricey.  We enjoy books and movies from the library, which is free.  My hobbies, at least, tend to be pretty inexpensive like crafting from recycled materials, as opposed to shopping, golf, etc.  We like to geocache, which is free after you've bought the GPS.  (We have had the same one for 20 years.  It still works.)

Example: On Sunday we spent time with our dear friend Anne.  We talked, we went for a walk around a lake, we got groceries and then made dinner together.  After dinner we played a board game. It was a lovely day and far less expensive than dinner and a movie for three people, or chatting over cocktails.

As far as the more extreme things, like gardening to grow some of our own food and sewing to make some of our own clothes, I think those helped more as a reminder of our frugal identity than as a whole lot of actual cash savings.  Yes, making or growing what you want instead of buying it is cheaper.  But it's more along the lines of: "If I'm the sort of person who spends all day Saturday making a skirt, it doesn't make sense to blow $200 on leather boots.” Plus I enjoy sewing and gardening, and I have deliberately cultivated hobbies that save money.

Paying off the house was really slow, really steady, really not all that dramatic.  If it is something you would like to do, you can start the way we did — by putting a little extra towards the mortgage every month.  We made exactly two normal mortgage payments the entire time we paid on the house, and that was because my husband was out of work.  Every other payment was something extra, even if it was only $100.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Paying Off the House, Part I: The Big Picture

About this time last year, we paid off our house!

We purchased it in September 2009 and paid it off in August 2018, which I thought was pretty good.

This is the part where most bloggers announce something dramatic, like living on Ramen noodles and dandelions, or the opposite – they casually mention that they're both computer programmers making big salaries.

Sorry to disappoint you, but neither of those is true.  We lived a pretty ordinary lifestyle which is frugal, but not extreme.  And during the time that we were paying down the mortgage, we never even made six figures… combined.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Saturday in the garden

Lilacs are blooming!  Here's a bud.  (Some of the tomato seedlings pictured last month are in the background.)

Accomplished Saturday: weeding, spreading compost, setting up the rain barrels, fixing the wheelbarrow tire, picking up bricks from a coworker, watering strawberries, raking and shredding leaves... and feeling rather sore and tired at the end of the day.

We are putting out rain barrels even though we are not past the last frost date here in Nebraska because temps during the day are high enough that Belovedest thinks it won't get cold enough to freeze an entire barrel of water, which will retain some heat from the daylight sun.  A partially-filled barrel can afford to freeze, as the ice has room to expand without splitting the barrel.  We'll keep you posted....

Here's the long, long tap root of a small and innocuous-looking dandelion:

Hope all of your spring adventures are going well!