frugal challenge

UFM 12 & 13

The challenge for Day 12 of the UberFrugal Challenge was to banish excuses. I’m still not quite ready to banish my excuses because they’re so good, but I’m willing to acknowledge that frugality might be more fun. Time spent baking bread, reading, learning new skills is time that is enjoyable and satisfying. A restaurant meal is certainly enjoyable, but it isn’t satisfying in the same way.


Day 13 was a reminder that you can look good without spending a bunch of money on makeup. Which, yeah, you can. Guys do it all the time.

I don’t wear makeup almost ever. I got started late to the makeup game because my mom didn’t wear makeup, so I didn’t have anyone to learn from besides girlfriends, and I never really felt like I got the hang of it. I remember one of the first days I wore makeup to school, a boy in my math class pointed it out to everyone because it was so unusual(so not the point of makeup, dude).

At the time, I remember being embarrassed and thinking my mom was weird because all the other women I saw wore makeup. What can I say? I was a teenager. All teenagers think their moms are weird, and if they don’t then they are the weird ones. Now I look back on it, and I’m appreciative because I have a role model for my own non-makeup-wearing journey.

I wore makeup regularly from high school into my early twenties, but when I started working with girls, I stopped. First it was because I was working at camp and I was sweaty and dirty most of the day. Then it was because I was still working with girls, and I began to realize that most girls didn’t often see adult women without a full face of makeup. Did they even know what that looked like? I wanted them to know it was okay not to wear makeup. I figured all the rest of society would let them know that it’s also okay to wear makeup. And then I just sort of forgot about it for the most part.

Nowadays I’ll put on some lipstick if I’m feeling fancy, or a full face if I’m going to good as hellsomething important and I don’t mind breaking out the next day, because I also still only buy cheap, drugstore makeup because the non-drugstore, non-make-you-breakout kind is expensive! And I just can justify that for something I only wear once or twice a year.

I’m not committed to my no-makeup stance. It’s not a political statement, except in the sense that I want girls to see women’s faces as they really are, but I’m not saying I won’t ever wear makeup again. I still sometimes dream of closets full of power suits and bright lipsticks and whatever that creamy stuff is people put on their skin to make it look even, but also not like a corpse? Foundation? Also blush maybe? But that’s not where I am in my life right now. And I’m okay with that. I’m feeling good as hell (follow link for a great song).

#UberFrugal Month Prep List Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are my notes on the last suggestions Mrs. Frugalwoods offers to prepare for an UberFrugal month challenge.

Examine Your Habits
I thought I could skip this one. I think my habits are pretty good! Sure, I spend more than I like on restaurants, but otherwise I’m pretty happy with my spending. But then I thought deeper, and I asked myself what is the root cause of my spending?

I have a habit of saying yes to ideas that sound appealing without thinking about how they fit in my overall plan or budget. I figure I’ll make it work and usually I do, but I’m not always comfortable with it afterward. So for July, I’d like to say yes slower. I’d like to wait, to say I need to go home and check first. I don’t think this will stop me from doing things I really want to do, but it will give me an opportunity to do a gut-check and to think of possible frugal alternatives.

Plan ahead

july plan

Every weekend is fun!

I love to plan. Frugalwoods gave examples like packing snacks and planning your day so you don’t have to spend money, but I took this in a different direction. I looked at my month to see what I’ve already committed to and where I might be tempted to spend money, so that I can make a plan. As you can see, July is already a full month with lots of fun things on the horizon!

Buy used (or cheap!)
Because we’re moving, and I don’t want to add additional stuff to our lives, I’m not really tempted to buy many things right now, though I suppose this could also apply to going to cheap restaurants instead of the best and most expensive one (even though it’s so good).

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not big on shopping for clothes. The last clothes I bought were some bras that I think I got in December or January, but I am feeling some pressure to get a different dress for the wedding we’re attending in a couple of weeks and for my trip to Barcelona. Both are events hosted by our fancier friends, and all of my dresses are sundresses or black. I’ve thought about borrowing a dress from a friend for the wedding coming up, but I feel a little weird about that. But I would feel okay about a trip to some of the second-hand stores around the neighborhood, and I’m not talking Buffalo Exchange–I’m talking the 5 for $5 places.

Banish excuses
This is the hardest one for me because I think I have a pretty ironclad excuse: we’re moving! We won’t see these friends ever again, or at least not for many months! Moving has all kinds of unexpected costs! This is the last time I can go to our favorite Thai place or the fancy but delicious vegan bar. Will they even have vegan bars in Rochester? It’s probably better if they don’t.

While there is truth to this excuse (I really am leaving, I really won’t see these friends again for a long time), spending money isn’t necessarily the answer. I’m feeling sadness and affection for my friends and the community we have here, and I’m trying to cover that sadness with a meal out or a drink or a fun day spent with them, but it’s those last three words that really matter. Spend (time) with them. That’s what matters. That’s what is significant and that’s what I need to remember this month.

#UberFrugal Month Prep List

Frugalwoods’ July UberFrugal Month starts tomorrow! And like the high school students I work with (and the one I sometimes was), I’m doing my homework the night before. Mrs. Frugalwoods laid out a pretty lengthy prep-list to get the most out of the challenge. I did the first one… and then stopped. Until now! Like my essays in high school, this will be long, meandering, and mostly only interesting to me!

Establish Goals: See this post! 

Review last month’s spending & categorize expenses: See here’s why I stopped. #Excuses. I wanted to make sure that I was perfectly accurate, so I wanted to be done with all my June spending, which didn’t happen until today.

Anyway, here we go! Let’s do the numbers!

  • Rent: $720
    This is really the amount I pay into the joint account with my man to cover rent, utilities, cat expenses, when we go out (which we rarely do), etc.
  • Doctors/Medicine: 354
    Yep. An expensive month. Dentist and doctor stuff.
  • Travel: $1036
    Plane tickets, plane tickets, plane tickets. Language classes in Spain. Still need to rent an AirBnB.
  • Groceries: $212
  • Gas: $22 (oh yeah! I only filled up my car once this month!)
  • Phone: $28
  • Cat expenses: $104
    But wait, wasn’t that supposed to be included in the rent stuff? Yeah, but I forgot, so I paid for her vet appointment with my card. She’ll need to go back this month for the airline paperwork, but hopefully it will be less since she won’t need shots.
  • Restaurants & coffee out: $411
    Yeah, you thought I was cool with my $22 gas and my $28 phone. And then we get to this monstrosity! What was I thinking!
  • Entertainment: $15.28
    A movie and a song that I bought for work and will be reimbursed for.
  • Gifts: $73.61
    Mostly money for cool high school girls I know who are graduating. And cards to put the money in.
  • Moving expenses: $1,000. This isn’t necessarily spent yet. My man and I just both put in some extra money to the joint account this month to cover our moving costs. And confession time: I don’t keep as much track of our joint money as well as I do my money. Laziness? Subconscious misogyny? I don’t know.

So with the exception of the rent, all of these are discretionary expenses in that I could reduce or eliminate them if I really needed to. And tbh, I could reduce our “rent” spending if we needed to, but my man is really frugal and I trust his financial judgement on what we should sock away. We don’t end up spending the full $720 every month, but it’s nice to have when we want to treat ourselves or like, decide to move across the country.

What can I eliminate entirely? What can I reduce? Honestly, I don’t think I could eliminate any of these expenses entirely.

WHAT? I know. I’m a terrible uberfrugaler.

Here’s why:

Rent: It is what it is. This is what we’ve agreed upon and it doesn’t bother me.

Doctor: Yeah, this will probably go down I hope. But I do have to see my optometrist this month and buy a year’s supply of contacts, so it might be close to the same.

Travel: Now I’m committed. Need a place to stay. Don’t think there are other things I need to purchase in July though.

Groceries: I feel like this is pretty low already. I am committed to eating all the things we’ve already got in the apartment though, so I’m trying to plan meals around a lot of rice and beans.

Gas & Phone: Not even. I’ve got these on lock!

Cat: will come out of the joint account. So we’ll pay for it, but the cost won’t count against my budget!

Restaurants: This has to go down. I want to bang my head against the table every time I see that number. How is that even possible? For what it’s worth, all of that is with friends too. My husband and I haven’t gone out all month. Lessons for July: Have people over instead! Don’t go to the great but expensive bar! Don’t get apps! Don’t drink! Especially don’t get drunk and generous and pay for everyone because you just want them to know how much you appreciate them!

Entertainment: I’ve committed to going to Hogwarts before leaving California.

Gifts: Still have girls I love graduating. Still gonna give them $. It’s not a lot, but it has meaning in my heart which is a little weird for me. There aren’t many girls left, and I do have cards I can use instead of buying new ones, so I can lower but not eliminate.

Moving expenses: We’re going across the country! Who even knows!

This is getting long! Let’s wrap it up, Canter!

What can I substitute?
I could give thoughtful cards instead of gifts to coworkers for my good-byes.
I could use cards I already bought.
I could have people over to my cute apartment instead of going out and pack my own food at Hogwarts (at least some, gotta get some Bertie Botts).
I could sub water for alcohol. Better for my body anyway.

What can I in-source? I have no confidence in my ability to in-source the things we need for this month. I need to get my car and bike checked out before this massive move! I can’t do that myself!

But–I did see the property team at work changing the oil on one of their trucks this week, so I could buy oil and get them to show me, then wait until we’re moved to get the necessary 90,000 mile check (I’m still a couple thousand miles away from this so I’m not terribly worried about waiting a few months), and we’re shipping the car, not driving it. This has the advantage of giving me a new skill and letting me find a mechanic who knows about winterizing cars. Not a thing we really deal with here in San Diego. I could also just avoid having the bike tuned up until I’m in Rochester, again where people know how to winterize transportation devices.

Whew! Mrs. F still has four more steps to prep for the uber frugal month, but I’m running out of steam and words, so I will save them for tomorrow’s posting! Check back here tomorrow morning for more fascinating insights into my spending!