Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Buying Big Purchases Frugally and Mindfully

I'm in the US now for the first time in five and a half years, and while I was here, I decided to do some shopping of items that would be beneficial for me to buy here instead of buying where I live. I'm writing another post about what I bought here and why, but I wanted to write a post specifically about one thing that I bought. Not even what exactly I bought, but the thought process that goes behind it, because I think that is more important.

When you're buying a large purchase, how do you know that its a frugal thing to do? I mean, you can say that if it costs a lot of money, then it isn't frugal, because spending money isn't frugal, right? Wrong. At least in my books. Everyone is spending money on something, the question is whether you're getting value for your money, in addition to living within your means. My focus in life lately has not been "Just how little money possible can I spend, period?" (because honestly, buying just the absolute cheapest now often means spending more money again and again and again later, for various reasons), but more: How do I make sure that the money that I spend is being spent in a way that I would like it to be spent, that I'm getting what I want for my money. That my money is being spent in ways that reflect my values, my desires, and my goals in life. And of course, doing that while living within my means.

For me, my focus is not "what is the absolute cheapest" but more "mindful money spending" or as I like to refer to it, the pursuit of money mindfulness.

So how does this work when it comes to making larger purchases?

So Your Kid Wants a Rideable Electric Car: Now What?

When my children were littler, Mike would talk about how he dreams of getting the kids a toy car, an electric one that they could ride around in. He had one as a child in South Africa, and it was one of his favorite things to do, and had so many fond memories involving riding it. He wished that we could give our children that experience and talked to them about hopefully getting them one day.

Meanwhile, I never had one of those and it wasn't something I ever considered getting my kids, especially as we were always short on cash. It seemed like a frivolous waste of money to me, and even once we had more money, it wasn't something that I wanted to shell out cash for. Especially since they are so pricey. However, I found out that, while rideable kids cars used to be really, really expensive, there are ways to make them affordable and doable, even for a family on a budget. So maybe one day...

Monday, September 16, 2019

My Trip to Camp Hi Canoe and Kayak, in Hiram, Ohio

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and haven't really been back (other than an extremely short work trip) since I moved away 15 years ago, and on my current trip that I took to the US to deal with bureaucratic bank nonsense, I had the chance to come back to visit my close friend who moved here within the last two years. On my first half day in Cleveland, I went to Goodwill and got some amazing bargains. Then on my first full day in Cleveland, I spent time hanging out with my bestie and then ended up visiting some old friends and catching up.

But today, Sunday, I had some free time and my friend didn't have to be at work, so we decided to do something fun together. I knew that this was the one day that there really would be time available, so I wanted to pack in as much fun and nostalgia as possible...

So I decided that we'd go to Camp Hi Canoe and Kayak in Hiram, Ohio.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

My Wonderful Clothes Haul from Goodwill

I'm in Cleveland now, on my trip to the US, and my lovely hostess with the mostess picked me up from the Greyhound station, but needed to go to work. While she was at work, I decided to get some errands done, and one of them was going to Goodwill. When I was trying to pack to come, my friend told me to pack very minimal clothing, because it was worth it to stock up on clothes while I was in the US. Yes, I can get cheap clothes second hand locally, but their quality is very low, and its really hard to find enough things that are my size, because the selection is small and its not organized by size at all. My friend, who is an avid Goodwill shopper here told me that there's this amazing Goodwill that I just have to hit up, and she was right.

I'm going to post in a future post about why I decided to go clothes shopping here, but for now I wanted to share what I got.

When is Bankruptcy The Best Option?

Debt sucks. It really, really does. The hardest part about it is that debt repayments can make you drown financially, making it impossible to keep above water with all the monthly debt repayments. Sometimes the only way to get out of that situation is to declare bankrupcy. Here is some more information from a reader about whether declaring bankrupcy would be the right option.

Bankruptcy is something no one wants to experience, but the fact is, sometimes you simply accumulate too much unsecured debt and truly cannot pay it all off. You’ll have creditors calling day and night, overdrawn bank accounts, and a hole in your wallet that you can’t seem to repair. When is bankruptcy your best option, and what is it exactly? Keep reading to learn more about when you should file for bankruptcy and how it will affect you.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Bank Issues... Mostly Sorted

Ok, so as I've told you, I came to the US to deal with horrendous bank issues that my ridiculous bank will only let me deal with in person.

So last night I arrived in NY, got picked up by a friend in Queens, had a BBQ at her house, then went to another good friend's house to sleep and stayed up late into the night to catch up.

In the morning, I took the train from Queens to Brooklyn to go to the bank. I decided not to pay for cell phone service while I'm here since everything is ridiculously overpriced and I can manage without for my trip, using wifi when it's available and the rest of the time going without. But since I didn't have internet service, I decided to take the train from Queens to Brooklyn, even though there were buses that would have been quicker, since I found the train more forgiving with info about transfers posted in a large map on the wall, and if I messed up and went the wrong way, I could easily fix it and get to where I needed to go. Lots of nostalgia since I took that train many times when I lived in NY.

Run Away From Stress

Taking care of yourself is important. Here's some tips from a reader on how to lower your stress levels. 

With all the work environments right now being extremely competitive and our lives being so fast paced, it’s no wonder most of us suffer from stress in some way. Pretty much everyone develops their own coping mechanisms but not a lot of them are healthy ones.
Some turn to food for comfort which can lead to binge eating and bad eating patterns. Others turn to alcohol that has its own long list of health complications. There’re more similar patterns like these ones but they all have one thing in common: they simply don’t work long term. Stress eating won’t make your worries go away for more than a couple of hours but it will definitely make you gain weight. So here are a few way to help you cope with reality that actually work and don’t have any serious consequences.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Arrived Safe and Sound in NY, Against the Odds

Wow. I wasn't sure I'd actually get here, because I had so many things going wrong...

But in the end, all is good.

So first of all, I told you about my American bank issue which is why I had to come to the US in the first place... But I was having another issue with a local bank here, divorce related, and because of it I would have had a stop order on my leaving the country. Fortunately, some amazing friends helped me out and I was able to take care of that issue, so then I was able to leave the country.

But then there was my passport to deal with.

Yes, passports. Ugh.

Getting Your Family to Eat Ethically on a Budget

As someone who cares about ethics, but also about keeping my budget down, I've thought long and hard about this, how one can do both, because ethical shopping often costs more money. How much do you sacrifice ethics for a bargain, and how much do you sacrifice frugality wise, for ethics? Here's a post from a reader on how you can feed your family ethically, while still maintaining a budget.

One of the most potentially difficult things about raising a family is deciding what to eat every day. We're not just talking about making sure all the kids eat their food anymore, either. Raising a family in 2019 means making sure that our diet is ethical, too!
It can seem daunting at first to find food that is ethical AND inexpensive. That's why we created a guide to help your family eat ethically on a budget.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Celebrating My Boys' Birthdays

Both my boys had birthdays within the past week. If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have a tradition of making my kids a fun and frugal birthday party. It's important for me, even when money is tight, for my kids to know that they are my priority, and I'll do what I can to show how much they matter to me and to celebrate their presence in my life.

But then the last few years haven't been easy ones, to be honest. First I was struggling pretty mightily with mental health issues (though I kept mum about it at the time because I was afraid of being judged) and then I was struggling to balance it all as a new and self supporting full time working single mom. So even though my kids mattered to me just as much and I wanted to do what I could to celebrate their birthdays, I didn't get around to making them birthday parties (and felt quite rotten about it). Midway through this last year things finally calmed down enough that I told my boys I could make them a very belated birthday party but they told me that it would be quite awkward and asked me not to. So I told time that when their next birthday comes, I'd make it up to them and do something really special.

And that was today.
Lee turned 12 on September 4 and Ike turned 10 on the 8th.

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