Five Frugal Things 4/28/2017

Here are five frugal things from this past week:

  1. We realized last weekend that the shorts Brett was wearing were purchased in 1999! I bought them from the Gap, along with three other pairs, on sale for $6 each. Other than being a bit faded they’re still in excellent shape. His Reyn Spooner aloha shirt was purchased from Goodwill for just $6.99.
  2. We of course brought home the complementary toiletries that were in our room at the Hotel Coral Reef. The soap and shower gel are being used now, but the shampoo, conditioner and lotion were set aside for future travels.
  3. We always combine trips whenever possible to save gas, so made a loop of Walmart, Big Save, Cost-U-Less and finished up at the farmers’ market on Wednesday, and then on Thursday morning stopped at Costco on the way home from my appointment at the Barking Sands PMRF base (on the far west side) to get my military ID card renewed.
  4. Before we shopped at Costco, we went carefully over our list one more time and were able to remove four items that we either didn’t really need, or that can wait until next month.
  5. Rather than buy pre-cut pineapple for kabobs next week ($12.99), we again bought a whole one for just $2.99. The pineapples sold at Costco are from Maui and they’re huge – we’ll get twice as much fruit as a package of pre-cut. We’ll also plant the top and keep our fingers crossed – the chickens have dug up the last two.

What frugal things did you do this week?


Five Frugal Things 4/21/2017

It was another frugal week here at Casa Aloha:

  1. We used some of our Hawaiian Airlines mileage stockpile this last week to book WenYu’s ticket from Honolulu to Kaua’i in May. Total out-of-pocket cost for her flight: $5.60 (the taxes).
  2. As usual, we washed only three loads of clothes this week, and hung many of them out in the sun to dry. We wash in cold water, except for the white load when we use the ‘Eco-warm’ setting (our towels are white, so they’re in this load).
  3. YaYu needed a long dress for one event at the Key Club convention this weekend, and the dress code is fairly strict. She spent several hours looking online for something both appropriate and affordable, but ended up buying a simple black dress and ‘gold’ necklace at Ross this past weekend for just $10.88! A friend will loan her a pair of shoes to complete her outfit.
  4. Brett and I have decided that rather than ordering off the regular dinner menu at the restaurant tomorrow evening, we’ll order three or four small plates instead and share those – less money, fewer calories.
  5. We were very close to having a no-spend week: Other than our trip to the farmers’ market (money already set aside), the only other spending was for the tax on WenYu’s flight, and $8.80 to send YaYu’s Chinese visa application over to Oahu via FedEx. Necessities only!

What frugal wins did you have this past week?

Five Frugal Things 4/14/2017

The Safeway bag is new in our ‘recycling center,’ but we’ve been using the bag behind it and the Ross bag in back on the right side since 2014!

Frugality can be a big thing, a small thing, a one-time thing, or an everyday thing:

  1. YaYu took her April payment to her Mandarin tutor last weekend, but apparently we still had something on credit because this month’s payment was $50 less than expected! This is the last month of tutoring – YaYu takes her AP exam the first week of May, so that will be money back into our monthly budget.
  2. We charged $1000 on our Japan trip with my Hawaiian Airlines card so I received 50,000 bonus miles. Those miles will help reduce Meiling’s and WenYu’s trips home this summer and at Christmas. The Hawaiian card was paid off this week.
  3. Earlier this month I ordered a graphing calculator for WenYu from Amazon (needed for her SAT exam and next year’s math class). When I checked this week it hadn’t been shipped, but I noticed the same calculator was now being offered by another vendor (still Prime) for $10 less. I cancelled the first order and the second calculator should be here next week (the first order wasn’t due to arrive until the end of the month).
  4. We had another week with no food waste, made sun tea for iced tea and filled our Brita water pitcher over and over and over.
  5. Brett sorts our recycling into five different bags out in the garage, and takes it to the neighborhood recycling center every Thursday morning. I noticed this week that we are still using one of the bags I brought home from Japan when I went in 2014, and another from Christmas 2014. Why throw out something if it still does the job!

What frugal wins did you have this week?

Five Frugal Things 4/7/2017

Here are five frugal wins we had at Casa Aloha this past week:

  1. I turn 65 next month, and will begin Medicare. Because it wasn’t an urgent procedure, I decided to postpone this past week’s gastro endoscopy exam until next month because having both Medicare and military insurance coverage (the supplemental) means there will be very little to no out-of-pocket expense. If I had had it done this past week as scheduled, we would have had to pay several hundreds of dollars in co-pays (20% of total costs, and the procedure is expensive on Kaua’i).
  2. I sent Wellesley College’s financial aid office a statement showing the past two years of my student loan payments – they will reduce our family financial obligation.
  3. Our six-month supply of toilet paper arrived this past week from Amazon. By ordering through Prime (free shipping) and using subscribe & save, we pay just 56¢ per roll versus buying at Costco, the least expensive option on the island (73¢/roll). Every little bit of savings helps.
  4. Even with being gone around one-third of March, I still managed to earn 417 bonus Swagbucks, nearly enough again for another $5 in Amazon credit. I make a point of earning my “small goal” every day, which increases my bonus total every month.
  5. We had no food waste this past week. YaYu took leftovers every day for her lunch, and Brett and I ate the rest for our breakfasts and lunches. We always store our leftovers in Pyrex glass containers so we can see what needs to be eaten.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

Five Frugal Things 3/31/2017

We kept to our frugal ways in Japan, and came home with over $150 out of our trip budget as well as more than a few goodies.

  1. Our low-cost phone plan with T-Mobile provided free WiFi and texts while we were in Japan. Combined with Facebook Messenger we were able to easily communicate with our son and with Meiling and WenYu back in the U.S. without incurring any extra costs. We will never leave T-Mobile!
  2. A travel-size tube of Aleve costs $3.79 on Kaua’i. The same tube was 49¢ at the Navy Exchange at the New Sanno Hotel, so I bought one more to bring home and will refill it from our regular supply as needed. I also brought home all the soaps and shower gel that were provided in our hotel room every day.
  3. We had to use American dollars in the Sanno Hotel and at the Exchange, and decided to save all our change, $1 bills and $5 bills while we were there. We ended up bringing home $87.43 (!!) for our change/$1 bill jar and to put toward future travel.
  4. Even though we came home to an empty refrigerator and nearly empty pantry, we stuck like glue to our shopping list and stayed under budget when we did our monthly shop at Costco, Walmart and Big Save.
  5. We filled up the car while we were at Costco – gas was just $2.67/gallon (very low for here). We buy all our gasoline at Costco – they always have the lowest price on the island. Our little Honda Civic gets 36 mpg, and we pay around $80 per month for gasoline, even though we initially budgeted $300/month. We actually drive more miles here per month than we did on the mainland because Brett and the girls got free public transportation there. Buying our gas at Costco also increases our annual rebate.

Starting next month we’ll be moving into extreme saving mode, in order to have enough for our Big Mystery Adventure™ in 2018!

Five Frugal Things: 3/17/2017

We’re on our way today, but had some frugal wins this past week to report:

  1. Although “premium” snacks are provided for free on our flight to Japan (which includes fresh fruit – yeah!), we’re still packing our own snacks for airport layovers and the long train ride into Tokyo: beef jerky, Chimes ginger chews, Pringles for Brett and YaYu (less messy than regular chips), and Pockys (pronounced poke-y) for YaYu.
  2. We’re bringing along an empty stainless steel water bottle and will fill it with filtered water for free at the Honolulu airport rather than buy expensive bottled water.
  3. By watching fares and being ready to buy early, we got the lowest price for our RT flights to Japan and back, saving 2/3 of what it would have cost to purchase the same premium economy seats the past couple of months.
  4. We’d been talking about adding Hulu to our streaming services as we’re running out of shows we like on Amazon and Netflix, so this past week I signed up through Swagbucks and earned an additional 2,500 points, or $25 in Amazon credit. We’re going to try Hulu for three months ($23.97) and see how we like it, and if we don’t use it that much we’ll cancel.
  5. This past week we ate up all the leftovers and produce, and don’t have to throw anything out before we leave this morning. All that’s left in the fridge are condiments and a jar of peanut butter.

We’re looking forward to a fun and frugal time in Japan. I’ll try to post a couple of times while we’re there, but otherwise, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!

Five Frugal Things 3/10/2017

Brett had the affordable and tasty “hippie bagel” (hummus, tomatoes, cucumber and sprouts) for lunch at Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe.

It’s been another week filled with good, frugal choices:

  1. We went to Big Save this past week to buy yogurt, a dozen eggs and hamburger rolls, and that’s all we bought.
  2. YaYu’s track meet went until after 9:00 p.m. yesterday evening. Brett took water, coffee, fruit and other snacks from home so that they weren’t tempted to spend anything at the meet. They ate leftovers when they got home.
  3. Brett and I wanted to have lunch at Japanese Grandmother’s Kitchen in Hanapepe while we were there last Friday afternoon, but we checked their prices before we left home and decided instead to have lunch across the street at the more affordable Little Fish Coffee. Brett had a delicious bagel sandwich and I had a wonderful smoothie. Our lunch total was low enough that even after buying two pastries at the Midnight Bear Bakery down the street we still spent less than what we had budgeted.
  4. YaYu raised an additional $90 through fundraising, so her round-trip flight over to Honolulu in April cost less than half of the regular price: $69 versus $159.
  5. Although I love my stylist, the price of a hair cut at the salon increased enough this year that I’ve decided to grow out my short, curly hair to chin length which will mean fewer cuts.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

Five Frugal Things: 3/3/2017

One contestant used tea-flavored cookies to create a showstopper pagoda tower on The Great British Baking Show, which we've been watching this week on Netflix.

One contestant used tea-flavored cookies to create a showstopper pagoda tower on The Great British Baking Show, which we’ve been watching this week on Netflix.

We had hoped to go to Hanapepe this week, but the week started off with heavy rain, and then YaYu got very sick, so we’ve stayed home and had a good, frugal week here at Casa Aloha:

  1. Even though we have a small budget category for movie rentals, this past week we chose to watch free offerings through Amazon Prime and Netflix. The money we don’t spend at the end of the month goes into our savings account.
  2. I made my goal every day last month with Swagbucks, and earned a 612 point bonus. That’s at least an additional $5 in Amazon credit. I’ve earned $100 in Amazon credit since the beginning of the year.
  3. We had $11.59 credit remaining this month on our electric bill. We rounded that up to $15 and put that in our savings account.
  4. We cooked every meal at home, ate up all the leftovers, and spent just $20 at the farmers’ market for this week’s necessary fruits and vegetables.
  5. We received $200 off of our rent this month for a rental tax rebate we were supposed to get. The money went straight to our savings account.

What frugal wins did you have this week?


Five Frugal Habits 2/24/2017

Costco's $4.99 rotisserie chickens are the best deal in the store, and they're delicious!

Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chickens are the best deal in the store, and they’re delicious!

Frugal habits are those things we do almost without thinking about them. Here at Casa Aloha we started doing them to save money, but after a while they became regular, and remain now as ways to help us stick to our budget and save. Here are five frugal things we do every week or month:

  1. Brett packs YaYu’s lunch every day in her washable lunch bag, along with a cloth napkin and stainless utensils (if needed) we bought at Goodwill. She takes a stainless steel Thermos for hot foods, and everything else in stainless steel or Pyrex containers. Zero waste.
  2. We buy a $4.99 Costco chicken every month, and get at least four meals from it. Last week we had a roast chicken dinner, Asian chopped salad with chicken, leftover cold chicken for dinner on leftovers night, and chicken salad (sandwiches for Brett and YaYu, just salad for me). The bones went into the freezer and will be used to make chicken noodle soup later.
  3. We do all of our weekly laundry on Sunday, three loads of it, and hang approximately a third to half of it to dry outside. Two of the three loads are done in cold water; the whites get washed in warm. Otherwise during the week the washer and dryer are not used.
  4. Brett (and WenYu, when she’s home) always takes ‘navy’ showers: get wet, turn off water, lather up, then turn on the water again to rinse off. YaYu and I, on the other hand, are masters of efficient five-minute showers. Both techniques help keep our water bill down each month, especially when we have to run the sprinklers.
  5. We wash out, dry and reuse all Ziploc bags (unless they contained meat or cheese – the bags get greasy), and the plastic bags from the farmers’ market, Costco and Big Save.

What frugal habits have you developed to help you save? I am always open to learning new ways!

Five Frugal Things 2/17/2017

Roasted baby carrots - yum!

Roasted baby carrots – yum!

Here are five frugal things that happened at Casa Aloha this last week:

  1. Rather than throw them out, I used the crushed Maui onion potato chips left in the bottom of a bag to top this week’s tuna casserole – very retro (and tasty)!
  2. The remaining baby carrots in the big bag we bought at Costco last month were looking kind of sad, but I roasted them and served with our Valentine dinner this week. They were delicious!


    This month’s shopping list for Costco; Walmart and Big Save are on the back. The question marks are for items we’re not sure about based on price and/or availability.

  3. We made a list for our monthly big shop at Costco, WalMart and Big Save. We always shop with a list, and if something’s not on the list we don’t buy it.
  4. This year’s rebate check from Costco was $144.47. A matching amount was transferred into our travel savings from our grocery budget.
  5. I listed a full-size bedspread and matching pillow shams, and my blue Chantal roasting pan (that I won as a sales incentive), on Craigslist. We need neither of them.

What frugal things did you do this past week?