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Spending $1.97 for Sweaters with a $104.00 SRP

A few weeks ago I had received some discount and cash off coupons that Kohls so generously sent my way. I have a tendency to ignore these unless we have a need for something, and that particular week we had some things that we both needed. So off we went to see what we could find. Well, we found plenty, although we were both a little stunned at the cost of hose for me, and socks for him, and we won’t even talk about the cost of underwear. Basically, I was beginning to think they were being custom made in the back room, simply for our needs!

Okay, a little transparency: I do not shop frequently, and when I do everything is on sale and I try to buy things in bulk so that I do not have to return anytime soon. Apparently I was away for far longer than I thought, at least for these type items. Well, we left with the basics, and obviously with no extra’s to stash away for when these items might need to be replaced, but we did leave with a $10 Kohl’s cash coupon. I personally do not enjoy this gimmick to get people to return and spend money, so much so, that I will give them to one of my daughters or someone else if they are in need of something at Kohl’s. In addition, I do not believe in credit cards, yet they can work if you only spend what you have available to spend. The only reason I have a Kohl’s card is for the discounts they send my way.

Well, since that visit, I acquired various coupons along with that Kohls cash.  For some reason Kohl’s decided to send me $10 for the Veteran’s day weekend through the mail and another one (different code) via email. Then another $10 because I willingly said “sure” I’ll be happy to get my bill via email”, and another one for the “yes2you” rewards program. Needless to say, I had $50 that I was having a difficult time saying “no” to. Mind you I was a little bummed that they were not offering any % discounts on top of all this savings, but one must not be greedy while being thankful for what one has.

So tonight I returned to Kohl’s thinking that first I will get a few extra pair of hose, but wanted to check out the dresses and sweaters. I found one sweater dress that looked amazing on me, but even on sale, the “see through winter look” was not the fashion statement I was looking for, and certainly NOT for the $79 sale price. I know, I hear some of you ladies thinking, but it would only net out to $29!!  Okay, sure, a great deal, but I struggled in knowing that this sweater dress was noticeably see through. In addition, I just paid off my Kohl’s card for that previous purchase and I had no intention of adding more to it.

So, I browsed a bit, and finally selected a few classic sweaters and a fashionable cardigan. These will work well with dress pants, jeans, and skirts. Yes, I thought about the full wardrobe benefit before cashing in my FREE money. So three sweaters later, my husband and I walk to the register. The total rings up as $51.97 before the coupons. And yes, you math wizards have calculated my total correctly. I ended up putting $1.97 on my Kohl’s charge, and only because they insist that you use their credit card to utilize some of the discounts. Silly them!!

Don’t you just love it when the cashier looks at the total dollars saved and announces  that “you saved $102.03 on  your order today”. They are so perky that I really hate to disappoint them. Seriously, I saved $50, NOT $102.03, because you see, I would never pay full price knowing that Kohl’s always has things on sale and many times for 40-50% off their regular price.

My husband loves shopping with me, not because he enjoys waiting for me to decide what I will be buying for the lowest price possible, but rather to see how much I will not be spending. As we left this evening with my gleeful giggles, he chuckled and asked if I could find a way to save at BassPro and leave there spending no more than $5.00 for his wish list of a new tree stand, a new pistol for each of us and a rifle. Hmmm…guess I need to do some serious thinking there. So far I have not accumulated much on their reward card, so that could take awhile. Yet, if we win their huge sweepstakes they currently have going on, we could walk away with more than his wish list. Then again, I’m not sure I really want to win considering the tax implications.

Being frugal is not about being cheap, but rather about using your resources wisely.

Laura – Frugal Value Lifestyle

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Healthy and Fit for the Frugal Minded

You CAN be healthy and fit!  The decision is a choice.  But you need to eat healthy as well as exercise.  If you choose a Fitness Club, then be sure to use it.  If you do not have the resources to participate in a Fitness Club, then use what is already available to you…for free!!

frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

When I was younger, I belonged to a fitness club that was on my way to work.  Most mornings I would stop in, workout for an hour, shower then move on to my workday.  I always enjoyed starting my day this way.  Occasionally I would meet my husband after work, where we would do our workouts together.

As time elapsed, and children began entering the picture, the time to utilize the club was becoming inconvenient as well as costly.  Eventually, many of these health club centers closed down in which we lost some of our investment.  Eventually we decided that it was no longer worth the investment due to our lack of time to get there and our need to pick up our girls from daycare.

Fortunately there are some health clubs that remain in business with the goal of meeting the needs within the community, with the added desire to see those who arrive, become and remain fit.

Club memberships are beneficial when you use them.  Look for deals that can work within your budget without ever needing to forgo a mortgage payment.  If you cannot pay your rent (or mortgage), utilities, car payment (if you have one), fuel and groceries, you cannot afford a fitness club membership.

If you can fit the cost of a club membership into your budget, but never use it, then you are wasting money that could be better used elsewhere, such as an investment plan or small savings account.

Personally, the cost of the fitness club can be tempting, but it does not fit within our personal budget at this time.  Between the cost and the expense of fuel to drive there, we are not able to justify this becoming a monthly bill for us at this time.  Then again, I can self motivate myself to exercise at home.

So, what does one do when they do not have the resources to be part of a fitness club or an exercise program at your local community center or job-site, yet you desire to be fit?  Well, lets look at the options:

  1. Walking – this can be done outdoors most days.  Days that I am unable to walk due to the weather, I utilize the stairs in my house, as well as walk within the house.  I realize that this sounds boring, but it works.  And, you can do it anytime of the day, listening to upbeat music, in your jammies if you must (personally I feel motivated being dressed to work-out), but walk!!
  2. Spring, summer and fall you have hiking and biking options.
  3. Another option is to drive to your local mall and walk the halls.  Many people do this and enjoy meeting up with friends as it motivates them.
  4. Take to your stairs in your home or apartment.  Call me crazy, but when I first started this, all I could accomplish was four times.  Now I am up to twelve.  It is harder than you think if you do not do this daily.
  5. Put in some upbeat music and exercise.  There are LOADS of exercises available in magazines, online (check out SparkPeople.com), books at the library and more.  I have a notebook of exercises from ones I’ve collected and tried along with what physical therapists have shared with me.
  6. Add low weights to your exercise program to keep your arms from developing what I call “bat wings”.  I’m still working at this…as we get older it is not so easy to get rid of what we gained.

I am not saying that having a club membership is a bad investment if you have the resources to participate.  There are some facilities that from time to time offer a great deal, which makes the investment worthwhile.  But, be sure to go!!  They have people to train you for their equipment so that you get great results!!

Many who purchase memberships, do so with the intention of making it to the club at least three times a week or more, but life can sometimes get in the way.  See if you can purchase a 1-3 month membership.  If you can stay committed and make it there at least 3 times a week, and can afford the expense, then decide if you can commit for a year.  But, do not throw your money away on a membership that only takes money out of your checkbook.

Personally, throughout the day, I spend 1 ½ – 2 hrs each day exercising at home.  I love my walks outdoors, allowing me at least an hour to see some beautiful sites.  Everyday is different.  I’ve met a number of great people along my way.  The cardio and fresh air are great for you!  But the days I cannot get out, due to weather conditions, I find a way to walk inside.

Focused on a commitment to exercise and eating healthy and balanced meals, I have managed to lose twenty pounds over the summer.  At my age with some joint issues, it has not been easy.  With the determination to take the extra burden off my joints and feel great, it has been worth it.  I am five pounds away from my first goal that I hope to meet within two weeks.  I plan to “maintain” this weight loss during the holiday season then continue on to my final goal of my last ten pounds.

I realize that some might argue that I only had a little weight to lose.  Not really.  At one point in my life I was almost 200 pounds and lost over 50 within 6-7 months.  I felt fabulous.  Then during a stressful year where there was no time to exercise due to constant studying, I gained twenty back.  I’ve now lost that weight gain, with the intent to complete my goals.  I know what it is like to shop for clothes and not find things in “my size” that fit (denial).

No one can make another person exercise or be attentive to what they eat.  It is a personal choice.  There is no magic pill, shake, or weight loss bar that will do it for you.  You have to want to lose it for it to happen.  That is what will motivate you.  Whether you have financial resources to pay for a fitness membership or not, it is up to “YOU” to take action.

For me it was about becoming pain free and feeling great!  Then one day I picked up a ten-pound weight and realized that this amount of weight, times three, was causing stress on my back, joints and bladder.  Sure, my MD’s shared that taking the weight off would take the stress off my joints, but it took my actually picking up that weight to realize how “heavy” the extra baggage was that I was carrying around.  My pain is not completely gone and there are days where it still hurts to walk and exercise, but I’m walking taller and feeling lighter at no cost other than my time, determination and utilization of what I already have available to me.

I hope that many do not wait until the “New Year” to make a resolution.  I hope that people make a choice to be healthy because they want the benefits of feeling better if not great.  Unfortunately, resolutions in our society are broken all the time because no one keeps one accountable.  Making a “choice” to change is a personal decision to take action, also not making someone else responsible for keeping you motivated.  One who makes a choice acknowledges the hurdles, yet gets up when they fall so that they can still reach their destination.

So, how does one take advantage of a frugal fitness regimen?  Use a fitness center that fits within your budget.  Some companies have a fitness center or reduced memberships.  Some insurance companies reimburse you for your participation.  If your time or resources are limited, then make space in your home to exercise, using your hallway to walk, using your stairs to work those glute and core muscles, and putting blankets on the floor to exercise.  Don’t have the resources to purchase small weights (I use 3 and 5 pound ones…still hoping to get back to using my 8 pound ones soon) then consider utilizing what you have such as filling recycled jars with sand with the weight you want to work with, but also include a diet where you eat appropriate portion sizes, healthy food options and drink lots of water.

Also, be aware of your work environment or hobbies (I find that I do a lot of movement when sewing).  How many times do you get in/out of your chair (tighten you stomach/core muscles and work those thigh muscles), swivel in your chair (don’t move quickly, but rather intently focusing on the muscle strength without hurting yourself), with your feet flat on the floor, bring your heels slowly up and down to stretch the calve muscles.  There are many opportunities to exercise at your work station if you take a moment to think about what you can do.  But, also know, this should NOT replace a routine exercise routine.

Enjoy a healthy life at a cost you can afford 🙂

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

PS:  Get rid of all carbonated beverages and trade it for water.  You might be surprised at how much you lose just from that decision.  Then, move toward reducing dessert treats to once a week (keep it portion controlled).

Trick or Treat? – Have Some Simple Harvest Fun

 

Trick or Treat? - Have Some Simple Harvest Fun

Trick or Treat? – Have Some Simple Harvest Fun

Our daughters are now grown, and although we were never really big on Halloween, if there was a year that they wanted to go trick or treating, we would let them.  In all honesty though, they rarely went.  Many times their preference was to dress up and give things out to the little ones, then be disappointed by the adults who came to the door with their children, with bags of their own.  Yes, it happens, yet fortunately just a fraction of them do this.

So, how does one get through the Halloween excitement when needing to feed their own family on a budget?  Or, how about those who buy ahead of time, eat the treats then have to go purchase  more for the trick or treaters, causing one to overspend and overeat all at the same time?  I am going to share some costume ideas as well as meet the kids at the door ideas.

Fortunately I am able to sew most anything.  And with the cost of disposable costumes (in my opinion) I found it to be most economical to create our own.  One does not need to know how to sew to make a unique costume that your child would enjoy, just a little imagination.

Costumes you can make with what you have on hand:

  • daddy’s flannel shirt – scarecrow – tie a rope around the waist, add some leaves into the shirt, add a cap (what-ever you have) with leaves as well.  Dirty up the face a little, add rosy cheeks and provide a paper bag with handles (I’m sure you have one of those from a gift you received or shopping at a specialty store.
  • pillow case – a ghost…for the little one, just cut a large hole for the face so that they can see well, cut two arm holes, then let it hang freely.
  • old white bedsheet – ghost – if you don’t have one, check out the thrift stores for stained ones..it’s going to get dirty anyway.  Let you child design this.  Provide permanent markers so they can create big eyes, yet cut some holes for them to peer out of.
  • Older siblings clothes make for a great clown costume.  Add a rope belt, or tie an oversized belt.  Add some big patches that do not have to be permanent.  Just attach them with safety pins underneath.  Make sure you let them enjoy wearing the oversized floppy boots.  Ask a grandparent for a wig, you just never know what a grandparent can dig up for your kids.
  • Cowboy/Cowgirl – jeans or denim skirt they already own.  Add a long sleeved shirt, using a long-stitched sewing stitch on  your machine, apply some fringed trim.  A nice fitting belt and to make it look western, use aluminum foil to create a belt buckle.  Possibly a cowboy hat…check w/family and neighbors, as sometimes they have exactly what you need for cheap or to borrow.
  • Pillow cases can be made into almost anything…use your imagination.
  • Have a variety of fabric hanging around that is weird colors?  Do you sew?  A cute little jumper style pattern can be made into a clown costume
  • A 50’s style skirt can easily be made with fabric on hand, an old sheet no one uses.  Add a shirt, white ankle socks and sneakers.
  • A 50’s style greaser kid can roll up his jeans, white ankle socks, sneakers, white t-shirt w/rolled sleeves
  • A geeky kid…pants they outgrew in length, yet still fits at the waist, is perfect!!  Add a slim belt, button down shirt and bow-tie.  White socks and dress shoes (sneakers if you do not have dress shoes)
  • The older kids…well, they might be a little more of a challenge, but we have made pirate costumes, witch costumes, even a Winnie-the-Pooh from some fleece, etc from things we had on hand (or possibly from fabric I had on hand, possibly purchased on clearance or given to us).

Okay…what to give at the door, OR, do you give at the door?

  • pencils, small pads of paper, etc.  (I used to buy these in bulk at the beginning of the school year when they sold them for 10 cents a pkg – trust me, with over 100 children coming to our door each year, it was the most cost effective item).  Believe it or not, the kids loved this idea!!  Even the middle-high school students.  If they are in the middle of testing, it is perfect!
  • Consider large party bags of game style treats…similar to what you give at birthday parties.  You can find these at dollar stores.  Plus, even though they are not made to last long, they do not add to the over consumption of sugar, and gives them some frivolous fun.  Mini card packs are fun for the teens.
  • WAIT until right before Halloween to buy treats on sale (and use coupons) to avoid consuming them yourself.  Toss all extra coupons so you are not tempted to buy extra!!
  • Buy only what you do not like as it will keep your hands from being tempted to participate in the “one for you and one for me” scenario.
  • bring your children to the community Halloween bash/contest events that many community centers and fire stations provide. Some high schools have events as well.  They always need volunteers and chaperones, allowing you to be aware of what is going on.
  • If you do not have the money to feed your family then you should not be spending money on candy you can’t afford to give.  Instead, make some popcorn or cookies, hot cocoa, etc…keep it simple, then pull the shades and turn off the lights and provide some candles safely placed and lit (consider battery operated ones if you have them), then play some fun games by candle light, or watch a spooky movie in the dark.
  • Consider a Halloween party of your own with a few families with the same aged children.  Parents can share in the goodie bags the kids go home with.  Don’t overdo it.  For six to twelve children, each parent can spend $1-$2 dollars at the dollar store for the goodie bags.  Each can either bake a snack or provide a beverage.  Then have the kids play a few games and end the night with a kids movie.
  • Have you thought about asking your children to visit at a retirement home?  Call ahead to see if it is okay, then go over during the day when your kids are at school to drop off some treats for the residents to give out.  OR, find out how many residents there are and have your kids give THEM the treats (possibly homemade cookies).  This generation loves seeing the little ones in costumes.  Consider having your kids put together a little skit that would entertain the residents.  This type of gesture would teach your children about giving of themselves, not only at Christmas but at other times of the year as well.

Although I am not a big Halloween person, as it has never been a big interest of mine, I do enjoy dressing up and seeing the little ones.  We keep things simple and limit what we buy.  But, the years we don’t have the resources, I do not fret about turning the lights out and keeping things simple and quiet at home.

This year is one of those years in which we do not have the funds to share in the fun.  And since it is just my husband and I left at home, we might  not watch a scary Halloween type movie, but maybe hold hands and watch a romantic comedy instead.

May you enjoy your Harvest fun!!

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor