Tag Archives: frugal living

Check Your Warranty

I backed our Toyota out of the garage last month and immediately knew something was amiss.  It barely responded when I applied pressure to the accelerator.  I backed it up and then I put it in drive and put it right back inside the garage.  There was no way I was driving it today.

We had it towed the next day to the Toyota dealership and then the bad news came…It needed a new accelerator assembly along with some other part.  We had to have it repaired so we would have to figure out how we’d be able to eek this major expense out of our budget.

I briefly mentioned our car woes on social media and a very good friend of ours (now our best friend!) informed us of an extended warranty that covers our make/model for the accelerator assembly!!  Wow!  This seemed way too good to be true!  It was like our own Christmas miracle!

We passed on this information to the service advisor at the dealership and he said he’d speak to his tech and get back with us.  Sure enough, he said it’s covered.  So, a couple days later, I returned the courtesy rental car and proceeded to pick up our beloved vehicle.

When I walked into the little office cubicle, the service advisor let me know that the gentleman we had been dealing with was out that day and he had no knowledge of this extended warranty.  Great!  So, in comes the service manager, who also has no knowledge of said extended warranty.  Really?  So, he says he has to go check on this.  After a long wait made longer, he returns and says, “Why, yes, it is covered.”  Praise the Lord!

… My boxing gloves were saved for another day…just kidding.

What was going to be a $1,200 expense was now a mere $217 repair for an unrelated part we needed!

This was incredible!  (especially considering it is now twelve years old)  It has been a wonderfully reliable vehicle and we’ve always maintained it.

All of this to say … if your vehicle needs repair, research and put the word out about the situation.  You never know when an issue may be covered!

We absolutely love Toyota’s and have been a Toyota family for a while now.  We may be purchasing a “new to us”, previously loved vehicle in the near future and our choice will always be Toyota!  They really do take care of their customers and that’s what makes us so loyal.

Thanks, Toyota!

…Psst – Check that warranty!

 

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Sibling Reunion

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The four of us live in four different states … and one of us lives 3,000 miles from the other three.  So, getting us together is no small feat!  But, we generally make valiant efforts to have a little reunion every couple years and this past week was no exception.  The last two left this morning before I awoke.  We said our good-byes last night and I had to leave the room before I began crying.  Hate good-byes!  Fortunately, we do stay close via technology.  I know our dad was glad to have his three daughters and son together again.

The party was at my house so each night we brought my dad over and we enjoyed my brother’s cooking.  Last night dinner was on me and I cooked chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans and left over garlic bread.  Yum!  We made “Dream Cake” the other night with angel food cake, cream cheese and cherry topping, just like our mom used to make.  Ah, memories!

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We took a quick trip down to the cemetery where our mom is buried and visited some cousins who live nearby.  That was an exhausting but fun trip!  Let’s just say some of us siblings like to get up earlier than others …

We came across some old letters at our dad’s house, some that our mom had written to my brother when he was in boot camp way back in 1981, some I’d written also.  We all enjoyed reading those and made copies so we’d each have those to cherish.  Mom’s letters were filled with family news.  My older sister was soon to be married, my younger sister was a straight A student and then, there was me…Well, she’s not doing quite as well.  Haha.  But I was excited about my upcoming 12th birthday slumber party!  Yup, that was me — Social Butterfly!  I had certain priorities, okay?!

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The last week was filled with almost nightly Scrabble games, lots of laughter, sharing family updates, teasing, cooking, eating, passing the M&M’s and photo sessions … That’s about the gist of the last week!  We are each so unique and I always thought of us as being so different.  How did we wind up in the same family, born to the same set of parents?  But, this time together, I could see how similar we are too.  We each are stubborn – that is pretty common knowledge.  But, we each are neatniks and have fairly Type A personalities.  I’d like to think of us all as being highly intelligent too.  The most satisfying and gratifying common trait we share is that we each have our sights on heaven and a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father.  That is what matters most.  We wouldn’t want the party to end here on earth afterall!  No, we want to spend eternity together and join our mother and other loved ones in heaven!

Love my siblings!

 

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Our Kitchen Remodeling

Before Remodeling

Before Renovations …

If you’ve been following my blogging journey for a while here, you already know that we live in an older home.  It was built in 1977 to be exact.  The house really has a lot of character and charm, but the kitchen really needed updating.  The cabinets and drawers were self-destructing and our silverware drawer had taken up residence on our kitchen counter for a couple years.  The kitchen faucet recently began to leak and the kitchen was just screaming for attention!  Ah!  We’d been wanting to update ever since we moved in a little over three years ago, but finally, it was time!  Yay!

 

kitchen 1

Our New Improved Kitchen!  Real wood cabinets and granite countertops.  We reused the cabinet handles and drawer pulls we had since they had recently been replaced.

 

kitchen sink

Stainless steel sink w/pull out sprayer faucet.  The installers have to come back soon to install soap dispenser into granite.  (They forgot.)  Loving the deep sink on the left, especially for baking dishes, etc.  No more caulking around the sink.  Love the undermount!

kitchen granite

Close up of granite & cabinets.  Love how easy it is to wipe up messes on the counters and it just looks fabulous!  This old house deserved a stellar kitchen!

We scheduled the remodeling to take place the day after we returned from visiting our son.  The kitchen cabinets were delayed by a day, however, so they began work on that Tuesday.  The timing could not have been worse as we had a serious car accident that Sunday night and all of us were in a great deal of pain, but the end result sure is lovely.  We were without a kitchen sink for several days, which meant lots of paper plates and carry out.  The kitchen was a bit discombobulated.  We emptied all of the kitchen cabinets and drawers before we left for our trip.  We had boxes of dishes and pans in the dining and laundry rooms.  Our dining room table was completely covered with yet more dishes.  It looked like we were moving!  You don’t realize what you have until you remove everything from the cabinets!  (A few items went in a box for the Salvation Army.) Finally, it was all worth it, in the end!!

Next project is painting the kitchen a taupe color and removing that hideous black fruit border.  Lastly, our thoughts are to replace our bisque appliances with stainless steel.  We’ve priced them at a number of places, but have decided we’ve spent enough money for the moment and will wait.  We also have the thought to search out (minimally) scratched appliances that have been marked down.  We’ve done that in the past (and been pleased).

I’ve lined most of the new cabinets with Duck brand chocolate colored non-adhesive shelf liner:

non adhesive shelf liner

The installers also have to return to install the cabinet pull outs for the pan and Tupperware cabinets.  We had those in a former house and I love the ease of use.  We added several cabinets so this will increase our storage space, which was much needed as our kitchen is small to begin with.  No pantry here, except that I do have a closet in the laundry room (next door to the kitchen) that we use to store large appliances and some pantry items.

A really neat feature of the new drawers is the “soft close” design.  You can push them most of the way closed and they will close the rest of the way gently and quietly, thus less wear and tear on the drawer.  This is especially helpful with kids!  😉

One thing I recently learned is that I can’t use my nifty vinegar and water household cleaner on the granite!  Apparently since granite is porous, the acid will remove the sealant and cause etching.  So, I’m going to mix up a spray bottle of dish detergent and water to use for now.  I refuse to pay $7 for a bottle of special granite cleaner when soap and water will do the trick just fine! We are going to apply a granite sealer to provide a waterproof barrier and help preserve the shine.

It is a good feeling knowing that we paid cash for our kitchen renovations.  We will definitely enjoy our new kitchen for as long as we live here and future owners will as well.  One benefit of a new kitchen is that we don’t want dirty dishes to sit in the sink at all.  We quickly load them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand.  I love it!  🙂

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Home Improvement Update

Well, we’ve been pretty busy around this place lately.  As I previously mentioned, we replaced three toilets a few weeks ago and my husband did a bunch of repair jobs around the house, which makes this wife very happy!  And we just had a valve replaced and other work done on our HVAC system to the tune of $809, so prayerfully, this will help make our electric bill more palatable.  January’s electric bill was $719, February was $597 and March was $556.  Triple ouch!!  That hurts just typing those numbers!  Hopefully those insanely high bills are behind us.  Our family has grown rather fond of eating afterall …

We recently had a contractor come out to give us a quote on replacing all of our windows (all 25!) and are waiting to hear what the final figures are.  (We’ve received several quotes and they want an arm and a leg!) At a minimum, we will have the kitchen window and frame replaced as the wooden frame has been rotting for some time.  He’s also going to give us a quote on power washing the siding and roof, which would be an awesome improvement.  So, we’ll see how reasonable he is.  This contractor was referred to us by a good friend of mine, who just had 17 windows replaced, and she was very pleased.

We’re focusing on spot cleaning the carpet throughout the house this week.  Fortunately, we have more wood floors than carpet, but the bedrooms are carpeted.  My daughter is actually pretty talented at getting stains out with baking soda and lemon juice, which is very helpful.

I declared 2014 a year of simplicity and have been purging like mad over the last few months.  My teenage son’s room was on my recent “hit list” and, boy, did I have my work cut out for me!  First, I got the back hoe … Okay, maybe not, but was tempted …  I completely filled a kitchen trash bag with garbage and two other kitchen trash bags with donation items for the Salvation Army.  Mind you, it hasn’t been that long since the last purge in his room!  I decided to remove an old bookshelf from his room and put it on Freecyle.  The shelf needs new support pins.  But, more importantly, my son needs fewer items in his room in order to maintain some sense of organization.  The shelf just winds up being a great landing spot for junk, so it’s for the best.  No worries, he has other furniture.  What a transformation!  There actually is carpet in his room!  So, purging is part of our overall home improvement plan as well.

How is it that we wind up with so much stuff?!?!  It honestly perplexes me.  I hold onto way too much little stuff.  Lately as I’ve considered parting with more, I’ve realized that it’s hard getting rid of things that were given to me.  I’m not even referring to family gifts or heirlooms or anything that special … just stuff.  Nonetheless, I’m getting better at releasing items to good homes and have been a weekly contributor to the Salvation Army for the last couple of months.

Here’s to more home improvements in 2014!  What’s on your list?

 

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Target Deal

Life is busy.  I don’t coupon.  Maybe I should, however I do a lot of my shopping at Aldi (a discount grocer), so I guess I’m not as motivated as some.  I feel like I’m already getting things at about half price.  But, when a deal smacks me in the face, I am wise enough to engage!  Such was the case the other day!

Okay, don’t laugh … but, sometimes I’m techno “challenged”!  I was doing a little grocery shopping at Target the other day when I saw these signs that said “Save $10 when you spend $50 on groceries”.  Well, I’m no rocket scientist, but I know a good deal when I see one.  Despite my “challenges”, I was going to make this work!  I grabbed my trusty iPhone and texted Target and entered the coupon code.  Voila!  Presto Change-o!  It actually worked!  I did it!  For you teeny-boppers, you’re probably ROFL, but I’m the mother of teeny-boppers, so this is a big deal!  I only used a coupon on my phone once before and that was at Michael’s.  Sadly, the yuppy cashier had to assist me in getting to the proper screen.  Hey, the important thing is, that I got the discount!  I digress …

The best part about getting groceries that day at Target was that most of what I purchased was on sale as well.  For instance, the Folgers coffee was $6.99 each, which is an awesome deal for a big container!  It’s double that price at the regular grocery store around here.  I bought two.  Should’ve bought more in hindsight.  Anyway, I got some lunch meat and some other necessary things.  The icing on the cake was the fact that I also had a $5 gift card from the last visit when I bought 3 sets of Suave Naturals mint shampoo and conditioner.  If you bought 3 sets, you got the $5 gift card.  They were $3.87 per set, which was pretty good.  Not great, but pretty good.  I just saw them at another store for $2.50 each, which is normally what they run for.  So, to get the gift card on top of that was pretty decent.

So, my grand total of savings on this Target shopping day was $15 plus the difference between the sale items vs. regular price.  (which I didn’t tally up)  Not bad for a non-coupon clipping lady!  (not to mention, a limited-techy lady)  I just love when I stumble upon an amazing deal!  Thank you, Lord!!

Have you found any great deals lately?

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Praise Report: Auto Style

Can I just tell you that I spend entirely too much time worrying about things?!  Just Wednesday I was provided with fresh worrying material when the Toyota mechanic at the dealership informed us that our 2002 Sequoia needed new front and rear brakes, rotors, wiper blades, terminal for the battery, and on and on their list went!  Yes, fresh fodder for this weary mind that has a lot going on at the moment!

Well, the total for the above repairs would have cost $1,400 as I mentioned in a previous post, which nearly gave me heart palpatations just thinking about it in light of other recent expenditures.  We’re a one income family on a fairly tight budget, so huge unforeseen expenses are unwelcome financial intruders!

Our good neighbor across the street happens to be a Toyota certified mechanic and we’re also good friends with them.  I tell you, the Lord planted them there to be a blessing to us and vice versa.  My daughter often pals around with the young mom and her toddler, who is cute as a button!  We called our good neighbor last night to see if he could install the parts if we picked them up.  He said that it was no problem to order the parts and he could do the work today!  Wow.  Not even 24 hours later, he had our SUV up and running!  He picked up the parts this morning and paid with his employee discount too!  The parts cost $440 and he wanted to charge only $110 for labor.  We couldn’t let him do that, so my husband will give him a check for $650.  I know he doesn’t want to accept it and just wanted to be a blessing, which he was!  But, we also believe in treating people fairly and showing our appreciation.  We’ll have to bake him a cake soon.  He loved the last chocolate cake my daughter made for them.

What a tremendous answer to prayer this is!!  A savings of nearly $1,000!  (If the parts only cost $440, that means the dealer’s mark up and labor was $1,000!  Insane!)

God truly is so faithful to provide for our every need.  Why do I spazz out and doubt then?  “Lord, help my unbelief!”  Ah, somehow I think trusting God is a lifelong lesson.  God always provides and it’s not as if I didn’t think he would in this instance.  I just didn’t know how!  The timing couldn’t have been worse, but that’s when a pause is in order and deep breaths.  How I thank God that His favor lasts a lifetime.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!”  He is so good to us, full of mercy, compassion and love!

So, the lesson here is trusting God no matter what the circumstances or the timing are.  And, the bonus lesson is remembering how God provided this time when the next financial challenge comes along!  In the Old Testament, they built a monument in the desert when God performed a miracle.  Sometimes we need to also do that in our spiritual life today.  Write down the praise reports.  We’ve instituted a “Blessings Jar” where we write down all the great things God does for us throughout the year.  And at the end of the year, it’ll be great to reflect back on!  This testimony definitely qualifies a submission in the Blessings Jar!!

How has God provided miraculously for you lately?  Have you praised Him for it?  Built a monument?

 

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Frugal Challenges: Auto Style

Frugal living does not necessarily mean a life of total sacrifice.  It, conversely, has more to do with saving money where you can so you are free to spend money on the important, quality things of life.  So, that’s our mode of operation in general.  It’s all about intentional living … Redirecting our money away from useless, fleeting expenditures (like Starbucks coffees, pedicures, fine dining, etc.) and toward the things that strongly matter to us.  Choices.  All about choices.

Well, we were presented with an opportunity to choose to be creative with our finances today…

Yesterday we dropped our 2002 Toyota Sequoia off at the dealership to have the oil changed and fluids topped off.  And today they called us with the ugly news!  It seems our twelve year old SUV is in dire need of front and rear brakes, new rotors and a fresh air filter.  *Sigh*  The ugliness of it all is to the tune of $1,400!  Ouch!

It would seem our money tree out back is bare at the moment, so my husband has a better idea than to line the dealership’s pockets.  Our good neighbor is a Toyota mechanic so we’re going to see if he can help us out.  He also happens to be a Christian and we like their family a great deal, so prayerfully it works out.  He often does work on the side.  We figure between the cost of the parts and labor, we’ll likely save half.  That’s frugality put into practice.

We did, however, pay $88 to have the oil changed, etc. because my husband is sold on the idea of using synthetic oil and we always have.  So, that costs more and it likely needed quite a bit.  That said, we’ve owned this SUV for about seven years now and it has never given us a bit of trouble.  We always maintain it and since it’s my baby, it is driven for leisure only, not to commute to work.  It has about 181,000 miles on it and has traveled extensively along the eastern seaboard.  I always say that it will last however long we need it to!  🙂

Lately, it seems every time we turn around, there’s an unexpected expense!  We’ve had three:

  • Garage door spring repair – $450
  • 3 New Toilets – $600
  • HVAC repair – $809

Not to mention, the last three months of electric bills were: $718, $597 and $565!  And, now this … Ugh.  It’s a good thing we have no car payments!  I’m so thankful that old man winter has had his run for this year and we are slowly marching into spring weather!  (which means lower electric bills!!  Praise the Lord!)  Also, our electric bill will be lower anyway due to recent repairs and freon being added, thankfully!

Today I went to the discount grocery store we usually do a fair amount of our shopping in and reflected on the $86 well spent!  I stocked up on a ton of fruits, vegetables, and a lot of things.  At the regular grocery store, it would’ve been more than double that price!  So, we save where we can, like I said.

Oh, and I was so excited to use my $5 off coupon at Target this evening (if you spent $35 or more)!  Not bad considering I’m not much of a couponer.

And my 16 year old daughter has announced that she’s in need of a new summer wardrobe.  To the thrift store we go…

Also in the mix is our desire to do a few household projects, but we’ll see about those.

I cannot complain really.  We are so very blessed.  God is always so faithful to us and has never failed to provide for our every need!  We are firm believers in tithing and offerings.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t outgive God!  He owns everything, afterall.  It’s all His.  He gives us the ability to work and earn a living, and blesses us on top of that!  What a kind and loving God we serve.  May we be wise and faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted us with!

When unexpected expenses arise it reminds us once again of the importance of an emergency fund and savings.  Like I’ve told my daughter, you will never be sorry for saving too much money!

So, here’s to increased savings!

 

 

 

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