Category: frugal

Frugal Friday – Baby Announcements: Important or Frivolous?

I’m working on our birth announcements for Fisher, with a goal of finishing before he reaches 2 months of age. You would think that with him napping 6 times a day it would be easy to knock them out. Not so. I’ve looked at a ton of different designs and debated the expense. I love the one above and have a code for 20 free ones. After that they cost over a dollar each and I have to pay for shipping. Yikes. Is it silly to spend money on birth announcements? I can’t decide. I may print a picture on our home printer instead, or use the code for 50 free prints from Shutterfly. Am I being too cheap? Jed thinks it is a total waste of money, so it comes down to my opinion vs. his. What are your thoughts? I would love to hear some ideas for cheap birth announcements as the sleep deprivation is stunting my creativity.

Hello Green Birth Announcement
Create beautiful birth announcements with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Frugal Friday – Budget Busting Temptation

Everyone has a weakness, something that tempts you no matter the consequences.  When you are trying to stay on a budget, temptation seems to pop up everywhere.  Lately I’ve been tempted to spend all over the place.  Cute maternity clothes call to me from the racks saying, “You need cute clothes, buy me!”  And there’s the baby stuff.  Oh, the baby stuff.  It calls to me from the stores and my inbox saying, “Doesn’t your baby deserve the best? If you want to be a good mom you’ll buy me.  Aren’t I the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?”  We also get tempted by budget busters like vacations and dining out, things we “deserve” because we have been so frugal.

How do we deal with all of this spending temptation when we are trying to save for our first house and baby?
We do our best to stay on budget, and we keep our budget flexible adding and changing things when needed.  We are going on an overnight getaway soon, a little babymoon, so we budgeted for it over several months so we don’t have to stress about the expense.  I got a little extra clothing money last month so I could buy more maternity clothes.  We are putting off as much baby spending as possible until after our baby showers, and budgeting some each month so that when we need to buy stuff we will have the cash ready.  We struggle daily with the temptation to forget our budget and spend whatever we want, because we do have a big savings fund.  Sometimes it is hard to not spend because we worked so hard to save up that money and be debt free.  I think what really keeps us grounded is that we are on the same page with money all the time, and make sure to work through it if a conflict arises.  This has been the best thing ever for our marriage and our finances.

What are your budget busting temptations?  How do you avoid giving in?  

Glimpses of a Winter Wedding

Weddings are one of my favorite social events, because they are such a celebration of love and lives to be shared.  Recently I served as a bridesmaid for my friend Marci’s wedding in Arkansas.  She decided on a winter woodland wonderland theme, and I posted about her inspiration here.

There were so many frugal, creative, and handmade touches throughout the reception.  Matches and sparklers awaited the departure of the bride and groom.  Painted branches hung with white lights and origami birds greeted guests as they entered.

The bride looked radiant in her 3/4 sleeve beaded gown.  She had each bridesmaid pick her own dress with a color guideline of pale to slate blue.  We looked everywhere for a maternity dress in those colors for me, but finally found one in the regular section at the Gap.  They basically only make maternity dresses in dark monochrome or giant crazy patterns.

This earthy monogram decorated the front door of the reception venue.  

Matt and Crystal with their cute boys

Each centerpiece was unique and handmade.  They made the room look really lovely and fit the winter woodland theme perfectly.

The soft glow of white candles set the romantic mood in the room.  Mirrors reflected the light throughout the room.  

The wedding and reception were so lovely and different, and really fit the personalities of the couple.  My favorite weddings are those that make you think, “This fits them so well.”  Every touch was thought through and so many were both frugal and handmade, which makes them dear to my heart.  I’m so thankful I got to be a part of Marci and Scott’s special day.

What unique idea did you have at your wedding, or see at a wedding you attended?

A Rustic Bachelorette Weekend

Last week I told you about the simple and artistic bridal brunch for my friend who recently got married. After the brunch all of the bride’s friends whisked her away to the Red River near Heber Springs, Arkansas, for a rustic, laid back, and super fun bachelorette weekend.

I found the cabin on the Vacation Rentals By Owner site. It was pretty affordable when we split it among all the friends attending. We brought our own food and drinks and saved a ton not going out on the town. The bride just wanted to get away, so it was a perfect place to make that happen.
The cabin overlooked the river and though the scenery was not in the prime season, it was still lovely. The living room had an awesome fireplace that provided the perfect gathering place for our time together. I made baked brie and tomato soup that we enjoyed all evening, and my friend Crystal made an amazing cake.
It was an amazing weekend that made the bride feel loved and cared for before her big day. The photo above shows the bride (in orange) with some of us. This was the crew that hung around as long as possible enjoying the peace of the woods.

How have you celebrated bachelorette parties?

Frugal Friday – Cheap Getaways

As you probably know by now, we are on a pretty strict budget saving for the arrival of Bun and for our first house. We still like to have fun and manage to do so quite often. When we were in my home state of Arkansas recently we took a little day trip that was almost free. If you aren’t from “The Natural State” you may not know that Arkansas is blessed with many great state parks and beautiful scenery. This was December, so the scenery was not at its peak, but it was still a lovely getaway. We drove up to Petit Jean State Park with my parents, and packed snacks and drinks for the road. The park was empty even though it was a lovely day (note Jed’s outfit) and we had plenty of space to explore without being disturbed.
Aren’t my parents the cutest? They did a great job instilling a love of the outdoors into all 4 of us kids with camping, canoeing, and hiking throughout our childhoods. I asked them about it, and they said it was just the most practical type of getaway with 4 kids, because the lodging is cheap and the entertainment is free.
It was so good for my soul to get away from concrete and enjoy the woods for a day. I love Dallas, but I miss nature.
Jed gets to have little adventures climbing everything in site and looking over the edge. I don’t think the little boy inside ever leaves the man.

We haven’t yet found any favorite state parks to explore in Texas.
Does anyone have a good recommendation close to the DFW area?
What is your favorite cheap getaway?

Frugal Friday – My Favorite Frugal and Financial Posts of 2010

Last year was a landmark one for our family. We moved again, began the journey to parenthood, and accomplished a number of financial goals. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite frugal and financial posts from 2010. It was fun for me to look over the posts to see how we’ve grown. I hope you enjoy them. Click on a title to check it out.

Dinner at Home
Estate Sale Decorating
Frugal Pregnancy Tips from Friends
Renting vs. Buying a House
This is Dallas – The Dallas Lifestyle
Frugal Date Night
An Ode to Aldi
Cooking with Friends
The Baby Steps – How Dave Ramsey Changed Our Family
This year our financial goals include saving for our baby and our first house.
What are your financial goals for 2011?

My Favorite Crafts of 2010

I started blogging in January and got semi-serious about it in March, with a few lapses along the way. I have so enjoyed getting to read so many great blogs and sharing my life and little projects with y’all. Along with everyone and their grandma I’ve decided to do a few best of 2010 posts. I’ll start with my favorite craft projects of the year. Check ’em out.

The Picket Fence Project Part 1
and Part 2

Anthropologie Inspired Golden Rose Sandals

Vintage Fabric Headband Inspired by Anthropologie

Decorating with Paper Flowers

Cake Plate Jewelry Holder

The Doily Project

Vintage Necklace Remake

Shell Shadowboxes

One of my goals for the new year is to take on more craft projects because they bring me so much joy. I have a huge crafty to do list inspired by our coming baby, other blogs, and our new rent house. What craft project is at the top of your to do list?

Frugal Friday – Pregnancy Tips Part I

This whole pregnancy thing is so new to me, and I have been getting tons of great advice from friends, online friends, and total strangers. I’m a member of the Frugal Living community on Blog Frog, so asked those fun folks for their best frugal pregnancy tips to share with y’all. They came up with some great stuff! I’ll share all of the tips with you over the next few weeks.

Frugal Pregnancy tips:


Have a friend who was just pregnant? Talk to them about maternity clothes. Maybe they’ll let you borrow some shirts.

You don’t have to have every cool thing they make for babies. I’d splurge on a cradle swing even before a crib.

Talk to friends and neighbors who are all done having kids – esp if they just had their last kid. They’re dying to get rid of their old stuff. Check for safety issues.

Make sure your car seat is less than 3 yrs old.

Don’t pay any medical bill that hasn’t been through your insurance. I overpaid the doctor’s office because they insisted on a certain amount that *they* expected. It took a WHOLE YEAR to get my refund check.”

– from Heart Baby Home

“This may sound silly to you but I just had a baby and this my personal experience. With my first, I craved taco bell like no tomorrow. And I ate it all the time. And whatever else I craved. With the baby I just had I craved pizza all the time. Instead of ordering out for it, we did homemade pizza and almost always had some in the fridge. When I was hungry but didn’t know what I wanted I would eat cereal. I had a ton in my stockpile and after awhile that’s what I craved. Those two things helped me save money on my cravings while pregnant!”

– from Fabulessly Frugal

“Always try the cheaper brands first. My babies all did fine with the off brand diapers and I saved nearly $10 on a big box (buy the big box) each time. This is the same for wipes, food, bottles, etc.

Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but if you can, it’s the way to go. There are so many benefits for mom and baby, but it is a big money saver. Formula is about $22 a box and will probably get you through a week. Do that for a year and then move into sippy cups when baby can have cow’s milk.

Also, get items that grow with the baby: a crib that turns into a twin bed, a car seat that grows with baby,

And, don’t buy what the baby doesn’t absolutely need. Unless the baby really needs it, don’t introduce the pacifier, or the bottle, etc. Once you buy one of those, you will buy 40!

Our baby started eating the same things we were eating as soon as he could have solid foods. A $6 mini food processor makes your meal edible for the baby. Since we get vegetables from the garden and meat from the farm, we know the baby isn’t getting overly-processed foods either.”

– from Keeping Up with the Joneses

“These are all great ideas. “Don’t buy what you don’t need”…I agree. I never had a changing table and I never missed out. I know several of my friends that said that was a useless item. If you feel you must have one buy one that grows with them like Kimberly said. In this case get a dresser with a changing pad on top.

I would not forget about thrift stores and yard sales too. You can find really awesome clothes for you and your baby all up until they are about 3-4 years old. Most people have too much stuff for their baby that is never used or maybe used only once and that includes clothes, and bedding.”

– from Saving Your Green

“And all you need is sleepers and onesies for the first few months. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive.

Somewhere for them to sleep, if even a pack&play next to your bed or cradle/basinet/baby moses basket for first couple of months too.”

– from 3 Boys and Adoption ?!?

I would love to hear all of your Frugal Pregnancy tips as well. Share them with me in the comment section!

Frugal Friday – Rent vs. Buy

Is it better to rent or buy right now?

$190,000 3 bed, 2 bath, 1580 sq feet
This one is in a great neighborhood, with a great elementary school, but a TOTAL fixer upper.

3 bed, 2 bath, 1085 sq. feet $189,000
This one is in our current neighborhood and is pretty much the norm. Dallas is just soooo expensive, it is out of control. We looked at one house that was 890 sq. feet for $179,000. That is pure craziness.
The American dream tells us that we should own a house. Before we found our new rent house, we debated whether or not this was the right choice for us. Would it be better for us to continue to rent for now, or buy a house? We’ve looked at houses, looked at our options, and decided that for now, it is better for us to rent.
We want to save up a 20% down payment, so that we don’t have to pay P.M.I., and because that’s what Dave Ramsey recommends. Well actually he recommends paying cash for a house, but that is unfortunately unrealistic for us. If you can’t do that, Dave recommends paying 20% and doing a 15 year fixed rate mortgage, and then pay it off early. The interest you pay on a 30 year mortgage is seriously out of control. I’m excited that we are taking it slow and waiting for the right time, but I’m impatient. I want to have my own house and decorate it to my taste! Other factors for us include:
We don’t know how long we want to live here. Don’t get me wrong, we like it here, we just don’t know what the Lord has for us long term.
We don’t want to use our emergency fund for a down payment.
Dallas real estate prices haven’t really gone down at all, and are still really crazy high (in my opinion).

Want to find out if you should rent or buy?
The calculator above is pretty useful.
For discussion: Do you rent or own?
If you own, what made you take the plunge?
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Frugal Friday – Community

For those of us trying to live frugally, on less than we make, it is sometimes difficult to find like minded friends. You may be watching your friends and family make bad money decisions while they mock your frugality. Even if you don’t have the support of a frugal community where you live, you can still find one.

As everyone knows by know, we subscribe to the Dave Ramsey school of thought financially. We are members of the My Total Money Makeover online community, and we find a ton of great advice on the site and on the forums there. There are thousands of folks who are trying to reach the same financial goals that we are, and they are all sharing their ideas about how to make it work. There are conversations about how to live on less than you make, how to save on daily expenses, and advice from those who have been there. The online community has been a huge help to us during our financial journey over the past year.

My newest frugal community is on Blog Frog. The Frugal Living community is very active, and a great place to seek advice. Right now there are conversations going on about frugal date nights, freeganism, couponing, marriage and money, and dozens of other topics. They also give away stuff all the time, and are affliated with EBates. I have won a $25 Target giftcard, $25 Sephora giftcard, and $25 ITunes giftcard on the community forum. It has been so fun to win! Right now they are giving away a IPad. Check it out.

I'm a Frugal Living Member

So the question is:
Where do you find frugal community or advice?