Frugality: Gift Edition

I feel like there are really two kinds of gift giving…

  1. Oh man so-and-so’s birthday/Christmas/Valentine’sDay/Anniversary is coming up and is the same time every year! I know them very well and should probably think of something they would like
  2. Oh man so-and-so is having a baby/somesurpriseevent. I have absolutely no idea of what they would want me to buy…or I’m too financially constrained to get it off the registry.

Enter: Hobbies and Crafts!

In case you don’t remember from my hobbies post, I am an avid knitter and have been working on my crochet skills. The situation at hand is that bf’s sister is going to have a baby. And yes, babies come with registries of boring stuff that they need (e.g. diapers, bottles, onesies, etc), but I wanted to make something and didn’t want to buy a bunch of stuff that would be used up. I wanted to give the baby something that it would have for a long time and would say “My Aunt Lacey made that!” (Or something to that effect).

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Above are hats I made for her first baby shower! I also made little booties shaped like paws (her nursery theme is Winnie the Pooh) and a little lady bug diaper cover. Sometimes the most precious gifts are the ones not asked for. I made the lady bug stuff with yarn her mother bought (because she found the pattern and requested it) and the hat/booties were made with leftover yarn from another project.

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I also ended up finally finishing the blanket I was making! I used scrap yarn for it, and had to buy more white, so its total cost was $3.66. I guess where I’m going with this post (aside from showing off what I’m really excited about), is that when it comes to gift giving, there are ten million ideas of things to make (just check out pinterest if you don’t believe me), and in some cases those are much more loved gifts than something you could buy at the store.

So if you’re starting to panic because Christmas is around the corner (at least, according to Hobby Lobby), or because there’s going to be a new person in your life, think about being crafty. It can help you be frugal and develop a new skill, and may be a hobby you love and could use to even generate a side income.

Frugality: Car Edition

As I drove around last week I started noticing this horrific noise when I tried to brake, and sometimes when I was driving after braking.

Oh no…not like the minivan

{side story: my friend and I lived together my sophomore year, and she had this ancient minivan that had been sitting in her parents’ yard (uninspected) for 3 years who started making this noise and immediately had its brakes go out on her way home – she lived and didn’t wreck}

The biggest difference here is that with where I drive, it’s likely that they would go out on the interstate. So I did some googling, got some brake cleaner, hoping that maybe they were just dirty. No – it did nothing! So after going to work and back thinking I was going to kill myself and everyone around me, I googled some more.*

{*Now the disclaimer here is that I am in no way a mechanic or auto-guru, so don’t hold me liable for anything that I’m saying!} 😉

Changing Your Brake Pads

  • Level: Beginner
  • Cost: $30-$40
  • Supplies: New brake pads, C-clamp (at least 6”), 2 wrenches, jack, bolt loosener, rags
  1. Turn your steering wheel as far to the left as you can. Loosen the bolts on your tire as if you’re changing it, then jack your car up (safely – make sure you place the jack in the correct place so that your car doesn’t fall on you or damage itself). The car usually comes with a jack under the spare tire.
  2. Remove the wheel, making sure to keep the bolts in a safe place. You will see what looks like a very shiny mini-wheel. This is the rotor. Feel behind it to make sure it isn’t covered in scratches, almost like a record player (you may need another if this is the case, although with minor damage you can bring it to an autorepair place to be buffed).
  3. Take the wrench and begin losening the bolts on the break caliper. This is the metal part that looks like it’s “biting” the rotor. You may need to use both wrenches for the second bolt (because once you loosen one, the other won’t want to turn, it will just spin in place. Once they’re removed, lift the caliper and slide the brake pads out horizontally.
  4. They’ll probably be pretty dirty and worn. Yay! Halfway there! Slide in the new brake pads the same way the old ones came out. Now comes the tricky part. You’re not going to be able to just slide the caliper back on. Take one of the worn brake pads and the C-Clamp. There will be something that almost looks like a tube (my roommate called it a piston). Place the worn brake pad on the hollow side and the C-Clamp around the piston. Wind it up to squeeze it so that it becomes smaller. For me it was about an inch.
  5. Now lower the caliper and bolt it back in place. MAKE SURE you do this well. Then replace the wheel and lower your car. Turn your wheel as far to the right as possible and repeat for the other side.
  6. Get in your car and pump the brakes a few times. It should become less giving after 2-3. Now drive your car around to test the brakes – make sure you are doing this in a safe area. Go slowly and brake, then work your way up.
  7. Ta-da!

By not letting my car scare me, I was able to save myself about $100. There are some car repairs that you should definitely let the professionals handle, and if you don’t know how to diagnose a problem, you should bring it in. It’s a matter of using your best judgment and having the confidence to change your own oil, headlights, tire, patching tires, and other simple car repairs. I mean, you wouldn’t go to the doctor for a cold right?

Moving Moving Moving!!!

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Out with the old! Well, up there is a pic of our current place, our half of a duplex, 2 bedrooms.

From boarding school through this past summer, I’ve always lived in on-campus residence, so this was my first foray into furnishing my own place and paying my bills on a schedule instead of twice a year, and living with my best friend (a guy, which isn’t allowed at my university)!!! Some other day I may entertain y’all with the stories of how I slept on a twin air mattress until December (when I purchased a used full-size mattress from a friend who moved for $40 – excellent!) and managed to furnish with a $15 bookshelf and free desk and plastic drawer set from someone moving.

Summary of the old place:  $750/mo total ($375 apiece), ~800 sq ft, shared wall with the most awful neighbors in the world (drugs, alcohol, parties, untrained dogs, etc.), tiny yard, not enough parking, etc., 20-30 minute drive from work (through campus & downtown), walking distance of all the bars >.>

The new place

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Isn’t. It. Gorgeous? It’s an older Tudor cottage style house, 3 bedrooms (picked up another roommate)…

It’s 2000 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, an enclosed patio, enclosed yard, hardwood floors, gas stove (6 burners and a griddle section!), huge bedrooms (I get the master!!! My own bathroom and two closets!), and an office (which we plan on making our cat’s room), and a fireplace!

Pretty much, I’m the most excited person ever. Our lease starts in August.

Oh yeah, price…it’s $392/mo (a $17 increase), BUT BUT BUT, it’s a 20 minute walk and 10 minute bike ride from work! So that means I will be saving a good bit more than $17/mo. To be honest, I’ve already started cleaning out my stuff and scoping out pinterest (and Katie’s posts on her new house over at the girl with the red balloon!). Prepare for the home improvement posts in August 😉

So I’m incredibly excited! New house! It’s great! Excellent! Excited! Stuff!