Now that you know a little about my obsession with frugal things, saving and retiring sooner rather than later, I am going to launch another weekly series - this one about frugal things I've done, saving tips and side hustles. Stuff that might help you, if you are so inclined. I'm going to aim for five each week, modeled after Katy at The Non-Consumer Advocate, who does "Five Frugal Things" posts regularly.
- I sold the old filing cabinet (emptied during the laundry room decluttering) for $5! We wanted it out of the basement and considered listing it on Craigslist for free, but then I thought why not try for a little cash? I didn't hear from anyone for a full day, and then only one person expressed interest, but one is all it takes. I am always torn between wanting things out of the house and wanting to make money off of those things. Making money trumps saving money any old day, as long as you then save it, but it can be nice to have more space, too.
- Last week, I decided to make my own rolls, using this recipe from Budget Bytes, instead of buying them for my work lunch. Then I learned that I could use the same dough for pan pizzas, which we've made three times now. Next I made pretzel bites to take to a tasting at our friends' house. Then we made dairy-free donuts for Eric (he found the recipe but it's a lot like this one from Pioneer Woman, which has great pictures - watch for the alien hand). We made donuts twice. And yesterday I had Eric look up uses for olive juice, which we had left over from the pizza toppings, and he came up with olive juice bread, which is amazing. All of this cost us almost nothing but time. We've gone through two five-pound bags of flour, maybe six yeast packets, and smidgens of ingredients we already had on hand. Not to mention we've had a lot of fun baking.
- Twice we had people over to the house instead of going out. The first time, it was one friend of mine and we drank at our basement bar instead of going to a wine bar as we originally discussed. The second time, we invited five people over for brunch, instead of going out as originally planned. It cost us about $45, but we ate very well, drank as much as we wanted, and didn't have pressure from a restaurant to move on. Several of the people present hadn't seen each other in more than a decade, so it was good to have time to talk. One thing you should know about us - we have no self-control once we're out. We can say "frugal" all day long, but if you get us out to a restaurant, we spend and spend. It's ridiculous. So $45 for a brunch would be cheap for us. As it is, we did brunch for seven people. And two of our guests brought flowers, which was really nice and continues to make me happy.
- I bought a $50 Ebay gift card for $45. We buy stuff from Ebay periodically so if I can save 10%, that's great. We are trying to spend less these days, but I know we will eventually need something from Ebay. Any time I see gift card deals to businesses we use, I try to take advantage even if I can't use it right away.
- For the last month or so, I've been using American Express Serve to manufacture a little spending on a credit card for points, using the method outlined here by Frequent Miler. Manufacturing spending can be a pain, and of course the credit card companies don't like it, but it can also pay off. Basically, I have $200 a week transferred to Serve from a credit card, which generates miles. Then I use the money in Serve to pay bills I'd be paying anyhow. Once it's set up, it's easy. Setting it up is a pain. Some methods of manufactured spend take a lot of time, but I find this one to be relatively easy. If you're interested, here's a beginner's guide from The Points Traveler. And here's a discussion about whether or not it's even worth it from Miles to Memories.