Second Friday Frugal Successes and Failures

Honestly, I haven't been keeping track of frugal activities all month. Usually I rely on recent memory (ha!) for this post, so I guess I'm going to have to start writing down things as the month goes along. 

The Costs of Throwing a Party

Here's a post-within-another-post about having a party:

Party fridge says help yourself!

Party fridge says help yourself!

We bought a mini-fridge for the basement bar in the days before our latest party. When I cleaned up the bar area last month, I really believed a mini-fridge would make it awesome. We had a "found" fridge a while back, but it didn't seal or cool worth a damn, so I'd been looking at new ones. Then we went to Costco and they had one, fridge-only which is exactly what we wanted, for $150. So we bought it. Then we drove it home in my Civic, which is a two-door (note to self: always take a four-door to Costco if you have options). It barely fit in the front passenger seat and I rode in the back, which was weird, but fine. We filled the mini-fridge with things we thought we might need for the party, such as beer and soda, and most of it is still there.

It turns out, based on how the party went, that what the bar really needs is a sink with a drain, not a fridge. I'm  not saying you can't get that at Costco, but it's probably not a plug-and-play thing like the fridge was. 

Also, when we cleaned up after the party, we had more booze than we started out with, or so it seems. Our party was centered around rum cocktails and while we drained a couple handles of Bacardi, we somehow acquired a jug of Jim Beam (or maybe we bought it and I forgot?), a bottle of vodka, some brandy, and several bottles of wine. Also, I ate leftovers from the party for over a week. 

All said and done, we spent $320 on food and beverages for the party, but ended up with lots of leftovers. We had a great tim and hopefully so did our guests! In the end, I'd have to say throwing the kind of party where you truly host a bunch of people at your house (as opposed to asking everyone to bring something) isn't all that frugal, but it is fun, and you end up with some surprise freebies in the alcohol department. 

I also bought more solar LED lights for the back deck. I just LOVE those things. Frugal cause they're solar, not frugal because no one really needs them. Except maybe me. And I bought two strands that aren't even solar. Don't tell anyone. 

Electricity

After I read this Frugalwoods post - Why Buying a Chest Freezer is Saving us Serious Money - I convinced Eric to dig out our Kill-a-Watt meter and attach it to a couple things I was curious about. 

One was the pool, which I've been curious about the entire four years we've had it, but maybe not all that curious. At the very least, in no hurry to get bad news. More about this in another post, though. 

The other unknown was the refrigerator. We are using an old Sub-Zero, secondhand to us, that we bought for $200. We got it in March of 2012. In July of 2012, we spent $1000 on a new compressor for the freezer. It's been great ever since, except for the breaking of the ice maker, which happened earlier this year. It still works fine, although it shows some wear and tear. And it's huge. It holds so much stuff, the excess holding power is starting to feel like an issue, now that I'm trying to minimize food waste. 

According to Kill-a-Watt, that fridge uses just shy of $300 of electricity a year. A new, slightly smaller, fridge would use less than $100, possibly closer to $70. But three hundred bucks?!? That's a lot of electricity. 

Eric did some calculations and concluded that a new fridge could pay for itself in a little over five years, maybe six. So we're probably getting a new fridge. We're trying to get the best deal, but also trying to get as many credit card points as possible in the process. Right now, we're leaning toward buying gift cards at OfficeMax/Depot with Chase Ink, then using those to buy through the AAdvantage shopping portal. If you have to make a big purchase, you might as well make it pay off any way you can, right? 

Food

I've hardly spent anything on food this month, thanks to party leftovers, but Eric bought stuff to make kimchi. We've been making large batches of things and sometimes we eat all, but other times we do not. I think I'm going to start freezing the things we don't eat after seven days. I fear the frozen meals will die in the freezer, but maybe not. It's better than letting things go to waste in the fridge. 

Clothes

I bought two sweaters, new-with-tags, at the thrift store. 

Through a series of mis-shipments, I ended up with a new pair of men's running shoes for free. I ordered a pair of women's running shoes from Zappos and they sent me a pair of men's (same style and size). I did a return and reordered (shipping is always free both ways with Zappos - awesome, right?). The second pair came - same thing. Men's shoes, same style and size. So I emailed and a customer service representative put another order in at no charge to me and told me I could do whatever I wanted with the second pair of unwanted shoes. How cool is that? They're a half-size too big for Eric, but I think I should be able to sell them for close to what they're worth, considering they're brand new.