Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Five Frugal Things

1. A friend had an extra ticket to last week's Beck/U2 concert at the Vikings Stadium, and offered it to me for free. We had a great time!

2. The day before the concert, I noticed a post on my company intranet about a nearby parking garage offering a free day of parking in exchange for a name and email address. I took advantage of it the night of the concert, so I didn't need to pay for either parking or an Uber. I'll get a few emails from this parking garage, which I can delete (or hang on to, if they are offering a discount on future parking) and I saved at least $20. 

3. I had my kids try on every single piece of clothing they own, including all their winter gear. I also took their measurements from head to toe, and had them stand on a piece of paper to trace their feet for shoe sizing. Next weekend is my favorite local kids' consignment sale, and I plan to go on half-price day. Now I know exactly what they need (and what they don't!), and what sizes to buy. 

4. We're almost done with diapers! Baby Bear starts potty training this weekend. We use the Oh, Crap! Potty Training method, which means I am 100% confident that this is it and we will not be going back to diapers. What a milestone! 

5. We just celebrated Pickle's fifth birthday (!!) and she had a homemade cake that looks kinda sorta maybe like I had intended it to. The thing is, I didn't make that cake to win any awards. She really wanted me to make it, she wanted Dora on it, she wanted it vegan so her cousins could eat it - and she loved it. So it was a win, and it cost me about $5 compared to a store-bought vegan cake that would be at least $30+. We bought her one present (a kitkat bar), and we celebrated her and how much we love her and how glad we are that she is in our family. Especially for very young kids, their birthdays don't need to be expensive to be special. 

What frugal wins have you had this week?

Sunday, September 10, 2017


It's been a while since we've had one of these! Here are some of the great things I've been reading on the web lately.

On Being a Bad Manager - People get promoted out of individual contributors to managing people, which is a skill set that doesn't grow out of being a great individual contributor. I have been leading a team for a little over 18 months now, and it's been challenging in very different ways than anything I've done before. I've had some good mentoring on that, but I was still really surprised at how different of a job it is to be a manager versus a regular employee. My HR department has started a regular meeting for us middle managers and I'm hoping there will be some training to go along with it.

The highest-paying jobs and fields of study in the United States - is your field on here? Mine's not, and some of those numbers are HUGE!! I'm happy with where I'm at salary-wise but it's eye-opening to see what's possible with enough training and specialization. 

The Equifax hack is possibly the largest disaster in the history of the social security administration. The social security number was never intended to be used for all the things it is currently used for - so it's a highly private identification number that is used for all sorts of public things by companies whose security systems are not strong enough to protect it adequately. I hope that this breach will be the thing that finally triggers an overhaul of the system of financial and government identification in the US, but I am not holding my breath. Also, consider carefully whether you want to sign up for the free "credit monitoring" service Equifax is offering to those affected - you may be signing away your rights to recompense from a class action lawsuit by doing so. Right now, we've opted for a credit flag and credit freeze with the three bureaus, and continued tri-annual monitoring of all our credit reports. 

Recently Read & Highly Recommended:
Four Queens
All Our Wrong Todays
The Dark Tower series (how late am I to this game!)
For kids: Fox and Hen Together

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sharing and subscriptions for the win!

My family recently celebrated a wedding, and so there was travel involved. We were all set to book a hotel room in the block the bride and groom had set aside when one of my siblings suggested that we (the siblings not getting married) split an AirBNB.

I had only used AirBNB one time previously, on a work trip, so it hadn't even occurred to me. But I did some poking around and managed to find a big apartment only two blocks from the wedding venue. We ended up paying around $75 per adult instead of $150+ per adult, plus we got to hang out communally during our down time, we had a kitchen at our disposal for easy breakfast and snacks, and being only two blocks from the venue it wasn't a problem to walk the kids back during the reception when they got overtired. Lucky Peanut got a break from all my extended family and hung out there playing video games in the living room - if we'd had a hotel room, he'd have had to hide out in the bathroom or something so he wouldn't keep the kids awake.

And it turned out that the apartment we rented was owned by a hairdresser, who is a friend of my new sister-in-law and did her hair for the wedding. What a fun, small world!

I am loving the growing and evolving economy of sharing (AirBNB, Uber/Lyft, tool libraries) and subscriptions (software licenses, Movie Pass). I think this is a much better use of our resources and a better way to build community, save money, and get things done. It's still not a default for me - like I said, I was ready to book in the hotel block, because that's what I've always done for weddings before. But as I have more positive experiences with the sharing economy and subscription models for experiences and services, I am starting to check there first before resorting to the traditional way I've done things growing up.

(Somewhat randomly, a few days before our trip we listened to the How I Built It podcast with the founder of AirBNB, which was really good!)

The one sharing/subscription thing I haven't really got into is the boxes, especially the clothing subscriptions. I don't buy enough clothes to justify it, probably, and I really, really prefer to try things on before spending any money (and also prefer to buy used stuff), but I like the concept of it.

What are your favorite sharing economy or subscription model offerings?