Tag Archives: frugality

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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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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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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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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Home Improvement Weekend

I am so proud of my husband getting a number of projects done around the house this weekend!!  He was on a roll unlike anything I’ve seen in a while, I must say!

Yesterday he installed our new doorbell, which was a great blessing after being without one for several weeks.  Wonder why we haven’t had any company for a while??  Haha … just kidding.

He also installed a new bathtub drain stopper (the kind you push down on) in the master bath as our old one never worked right since we’ve lived in this house and then gave up completely several months ago.  So, now I can put that Bath & Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom bubble bath to good use!  Sounds divine!

Another thing that has been in disrepair since we moved in over three years ago is something so simple, yet has somehow not ranked at the top of our project list until now.  The toilet paper holder in the master bathroom.  Something so small, yet so vital.  My husband installed a new, shiny, chrome holder and all is well with our world once more.  🙂

A project in the master bathroom for another weekend is replacing the drain stopper in my sink.  We have a vanity with dual sinks, his and hers, but my drain stopper has never worked.  See a pattern forming here?  For all the beauty and charm this house possesses, we have our work cut out for us.  I digress …

And, yesterday, after church, my wonderful and highly skilled husband  installed new massager shower heads in the upstairs two bathrooms.  It’s the kind you can remove from the base or remain stationary.  Definitely an upgrade from the former shower heads!  I’ve mentioned in a previous post that our house was built in 1977 and has two of the four bathrooms with original tile work.  The upstairs hall bath has a mustard yellow theme and the upstairs (former) master suite has a pale green theme.  Charming in 1977, I’m sure.  Not so much in 2014.  😉  But, we’re working on improving things around here, bit by bit.  Last week, we had three new toilets installed, so bye-bye to the mustard yellow and pale green commodes!

Several pale green and white tiles (2″x4″) had fallen off the former master suite bathroom walls, so my husband put those back up as well.  Yay for progress!  This is my daughter’s bathroom, so she’s very happy about the improvements.  New toilet, new shower head, fixed wall tiles.  Next weekend, hubby will caulk her shower.  The only other area I’d like to address in her bathroom is purchasing a small acrylic shelf to install above her vanity.  The previous shelf fell off the wall as it had been attached with only adhesive backing.  The glass shelf was much too heavy for that.  As I said, we inherited lots of projects …

After my love finished all of that, he went outside and spread Scott’s Turf Builder on our lawn, tossed the football and played basketball with the kids!  Whew!  What kind of vitamins is he taking?  Haha.  Productive weekend!  I love it!  We’re expecting rain on Tuesday, so that’ll be good for the grass.

While he was outside, I swapped out the ancient electric wall plate in the upstairs hall bathroom for a fresh white plate we had on hand.  Next week I’ll get a couple light switch covers – one for the hall bath and one for my daughter’s bathroom.  At the moment, hers is a dolphin, which she doesn’t much care for.  (can’t say I blame her)  It is very rewarding to see so much progress around this place!  The best part about it is the fact that dear hubby is able to do the home repairs himself rather than hiring a handyman or plumber.  He always jokes after completing one of his “handy jobs” around the house – “That’ll be $175.00, ma’am!”  I always tell him I’ll pay with my good looks! 😉

We have some other upcoming projects in mind… For one thing, our HVAC guy informed us last week that we need to have a valve replaced and some other work on our system to the tune of $809!  *Ouch*  And, that’s including our 15% discount on our current maintenance plan.  Not good news.  Unless you count the fact that it will once again run at optimum efficiency after the repairs, thus, reducing our electric bill.  That is the major upside to this huge pill that’s difficult to swallow!

The other major renovation we have contemplated for some time now is our kitchen.  It’s a small pass through kitchen, almost galley style, but it’s in an L shape instead.  Small nonetheless.  We want to replace the ancient pressed wood cabinets and formica counter tops with light cherry wood cabinets and granite counter tops.  Ooh-la-la!

We currently have two bowls catching small leaks under the kitchen sink, but once we replace everything (including the kitchen sink), they will be a distant memory.  Ah, this old house …  Have I mentioned the window frame around the kitchen window has been rotting since before we moved in and really needs to be replaced??  We’d really like to replace all of the windows, but would you care to venture a guess as to just how many windows we have?  If you said 25, you’d be correct, my friend!  Yes, we have 25 stinkin’ windows and the lowest quote we have gotten is about $12,000.00.  The other window companies weren’t nearly as competitve in their pricing.  That’s another matter for another day  …

Yes, this home ensures no roots of boredom grow around here!

What home improvement projects are on your list this year?

 

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Home Improvement Projects!

It’s springtime!  And spring is synonomous with home improvement, isn’t it?  It is around here anyway.  The natives are restless from a long winter and anxious to get some things done now that we are beginning to thaw from an arduous winter.

Our house was built in 1977, and while it possesses many fine qualities, there are some issues to be reckoned with.  In our nearly twenty years of marriage, we’ve only owned new houses up until three years ago.  We’ve done more interior painting and installing wood floors, tile and lighting fixtures than we’d care to reflect on in years’ past, but a house this old has a mind of its own!  Take, for instance, a simple thing like our doorbell decided to give up the ghost.  My dear husband attempted to repair it, but noticed an inner part had been damaged beyond repair.  So, we ordered a new one ($19.99) on Amazon.  The configuration of the new receptor is much smaller now, so we would have to try to match up the old wallpaper border if we hung it where the previous one was.  But then my husband had the bright idea to put the old one back on the wall for now (no wallpaper repairs necessary) and we’ll hang the small one in an inconspicuous place.  I thought that was sheer genius!

Shortly after moving in, our kitchen drawers began literally falling apart.  I’m pretty sure they’re the original cabinets and drawers and are made of some hideous pressed wood on the sides, which is warping by the minute.  Right now we have two drawers out of commission.  The cabinet/granite guy came out again yesterday to re-measure, and if he and my Negotiator Husband agree on the price (which I think they will), we will have a new and improved kitchen soon.  Goodness knows, we need it.  I’ll post pictures when and if it happens.  We have a walk through kitchen, the smallest we’ve ever had, with virtually no pantry.  We’ll be adding two upper cabinets, which will offer much needed additional space.

We have four bathrooms.  Yes, 1, 2, 3, 4!  That’s a lot of bathrooms, considering I grew up in a humble home, where at one point, 7 people shared one bathroom!  And, somehow, we survived!  But, I digress… Four bathrooms.  My daughter’s toilet has never behaved properly since we’ve lived here.  My husband has gone to specialty plumbing stores in an attempt to purchase parts and, invariably, it doesn’t work out.  He’s pretty handy too.  This toilet is blue and definitely circa 1977 .  We’ve wanted to replace it but have held off.  Our first quote was over $400 for a plumber to replace it.  I called another plumbing company last week to get a quote and they said $618!  Can you imagine?  For one stinkin’ toilet?!  I hope it was gold plated at least!

Then last weekend, the day before my sister was due to visit, the upstairs hall toilet decided it needed some attention and repairs.  This one is mustard yellow.  Definitely 1977.  What was up with all the colors back then?!  That bathroom needs a complete remodel, but that’s another matter for another day!  And then we have the master toilet, which is white, but older, although not quite 1977.  It sits very low as a previous owner had polio and must’ve been made to accommodate him.  It’ll be good to replace it. The downstairs hall toilet is relatively new, so it’s fine.

Initially my husband and son ran to Home Depot yesterday to purchase a toilet valve kit, but then he got the idea just to replace them.  Yep, all three!  The Lord was truly with us, though.  We got a multiple product discount, making each toilet $78, plus a break on the installation fee.  So, a total of three toilets installed for $600!

They wanted to charge a haul away fee of $35 for each toilet, but my thrifty husband declined.  (Yay for him!) His initial thought was to haul them to the landfill himself, but we may put them on Freecycle or ask a home improvement friend if he wants them.  Then, our disposal cost is $0!  So, we’re pretty thrilled about our overall deal!

It seems lately a number of things have gone on the blink around here!  We just had our garage door repaired to a tune of $450, which was lowered from the initial quote of over $650! (thanks to my wonderful, negotiator husband!) Last week I discovered a leak under the kitchen sink.  It’s only a slight leak, fortunately, but will no longer be an issue once we remodel soon.  We’re getting an undermount sink with granite countertops.  I’m so excited that I’ll have a sprayer hose that actually works!  What a concept!  😉  Our current sprayer has never worked since we’ve lived here.  Truly disappointing.

This Old House … Ya gotta love her!  Our house has a lot of charm, really, it does.  It just demonstrates the fact that houses require a lot of upkeep and constant care.  I’m really surprised that the previous owners didn’t upgrade the upstairs’ bathrooms, but I think they rarely used the upstairs once their kids were grown.  So, it wasn’t a focus.  They did, however, do some updating on the main level, which is part of the charm that sold us.  If we stay here long enough, the windows are next!

Our unspoken motto is:  “We never pay full price.  Ever.”  No matter what the project is, we try to do it ourselves first.  If a professional is required, then we comparison shop until we find the right price.  The right price is the price we are willing to pay.  Our budget dictates being as frugal as possible, especially since we are a one income family in a high cost of living area.  We would never sink more money into an investment than we anticipate realizing in the future.  That goes for any investment, particularly a house.  It’s called wisdom.  For example, if we didn’t think the kitchen was an ideal room to invest money in, we wouldn’t proceed. However, since we know that prospective homebuyers focus on the kitchen first and bathrooms second, those are worthy investments.  We are always thinking in terms of resale.

Do you have home improvement projects in mind?  If so, care to share?

 

 

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Consumerism

Americans are great consumers, aren’t we?  We will buy just about anything.  Rocks.  Others’ trash we believe to be treasure.  A shirt with some man’s name on it so we can be advertising pawns.  A bag with a strange logo emblazoned on it.  A motor vehicle because some commercial said we’d be cool or sexy if we drive it.  A McMansion because society says you have arrived if you live here.

Have you ever stopped and questioned yourself why you are purchasing something?  Far too often, I think it has to do with the pervasive subliminal messages.  I don’t think we were born with the need to impress or be cool.  I think we were born with the desire to be loved, fed and clothed.  Pretty basic needs if you ask me.  How did we stray so far from basic necessity then?

I’m not saying it’s a negative thing at all to own expensive things.  They’re all wonderful if one can afford them.  It becomes an issue when our identity is enshrined in things.  We all want to put our best foot forward (or at least most), but what about when you overextend your foot?  You dislocate your finances.  Not good.

Because our society is more connected than at any other time in history, we are bombarded with advertising as well.  I am a stubborn individual.  I turn down the radio on commercials.  I mute the t.v. on commercials (if I watch t.v. at all).  I close out the ad box on YouTube.  And why do stores think we need to be entertained in the check out aisle with a series of advertisements?  I resent the “in your face” brainwashing.  I really am not impressed with what some advertising guru tells me is the latest and greatest thing that I must spend our hard earned money on.  Not in the least.

Question:  Would you still buy that expensive suit, handbag, watch, car, etc. if you were invisible?  Obviously no man is an island to himself, but it poses food for thought.  Who does it matter most to?  Impressing the other guy/gal or something you truly enjoy to the extent of the price tag?

Perhaps I do not possess the need to be associated with some high fashion brand or exclusive logo because my identity was established more than 2,000 years ago.  You see, my identity is in Jesus Christ.  I do not turn to the things of this world to fill an inner craving of acceptance because Jesus paid the price on Calvary when He purchased my salvation and wholeness.

One day the things of this world will be no more.  Rather than focus on the trappings of this world, I set my hope and faith on things that will outlast this temporary existence.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” ~  Matthew 6:19-21

If I strive to be accepted by society via Coach, Rolex, Mercedes, a McMansion, etc., what does that say about me?  If they let me in their “club”, would that bring happiness?  We are pilgrims, my friend … just passing through.  This world is not our final destination.  Do not set your affections on the things you see here.  We have an eternal home that will far surpass anything we’ve yet seen!

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2

To be sure, quality items are pleasurable and acceptable.  They just don’t captivate my heart.  My heart is set on things above.  And my focus is on bringing as many to heaven with me as possible.  You see when we’re caught up in replicating the culture of this world and fulfilling some need for social acceptance, our focus is often distracted from winning the lost.  It’s not about us anyway.  It’s all about Jesus, the One who took our place on Golgotha’s Hill, so that we may live eternally with Him!  That’s where my hope lies!  What say you?

 

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