Monthly Archives: February 2011

Groupon and Living Social Hiatus

I’ve raved before about the great deals I’ve found on Groupon and Living Social, but since the new year I’ve been taking an intentional hiatus from online deals.

Sometimes the bargains seemed too good to pass up, and I got caught up “saving” money…all the while spending too much!  Thankfully, I can truly say that the majority of the deals were at local places where we already enjoy going, and I think that we saved some money eating out. 

But Groupons/Living Social deals are tricky for budgeting because you spend the money sometimes long before you ever use the service.

Then there’s also the issue of expiration dates, which has been the biggest hassle for me. I find myself strategically planning our weekend around where we need to use a Groupon. It’s certainly not a stress I need in my life.

In full disclosure, I felt the need to tally/share all the Groupons I’ve bought in the past year. Like I suspected, the expense really does add up. It shows how easily a well meaning budget conscious person can spend a lot to save a little. 

Current Groupons:

  • $40 Soluna Grill – paid $20
  • $80 Fish Window Cleaning – paid $40
  • $25 Pistils Nursery – paid $10
  • $60 Pixie Project – paid $30
  • $25 Hash Restaurant – paid $12 –                                                  Subtotal=$112

Past year – used already:

  • $50 Nordstrom rack – paid $25
  • 3 Santa photos – paid $10
  • Pumpkin patch Oregon Maize – paid $7
  • $10 SuperDog – paid $5
  • $15 Pizza a go go – paid $7
  • $15 Habibi Lebanese – paid $7
  • $25 Ukiyoe Japanese Restaurant – paid $12
  • $15 x2 Elephant’s Delicatessen – paid $15
  • $8 x2 Wayne’s Chicago Red Hots – paid $8
  • $25 Concordia Ale House – paid $12
  • $13 Posies Cafe – paid $6
  • $10 Cafe Brioso – paid $5
  • $45 Strut Salon – paid $20
  • $35 x2 Chameleon Restaurant – paid $30
  • $15 x2 Bella Faccia – paid $14
  • $25 Pizza Fino – paid $12
  • $50 Spud – paid $25                                                                   Subtotal =$220

Living Social current unused:

  • $30 – Cup and Saucer – paid $15
  • $20 – Homebrew exchange – paid $10
  • $35 – One hour massage at Ruby Violet
  • $25 – Brow shape – paid $12.50                                                  Subtotal=$72.50

Already enjoyed:

  • Skamania Lodge – $169
  • Hot Stone massage at Written on the Body – $30                         Subtotal=$199

GRAND TOTAL=  $603.50

As you can see, it really adds up over the course of a year. I’m not planning to abandon these deals altogether. I just need to use more discipline. So I’ve developed a set of criteria for purchasing any online deals:
  1. Must be in our neighborhood or a favorite place of ours.
  2. Must have/make plans to use within the next month – not just by the expiration.
  3. Must truly save us money on something we would regularly buy.
  4. If in question, check with Hubby – he’ll almost always tell me not to buy it…unless it’s someplace he can’t resist either…

Lastly, while I’m little scared to sign up for it, the site Mind. Body. Green is supposed to be the new Groupon for Greenies…

Have you become addicted to Groupons?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Clear Choice

Monthly internet bills are one of those fixed expenses that we seemingly can’t live without these days…how else would you buy an Ecoist bag, watch the Story of Stuff, and give a micro-loan to a subsistence farmer from the comfort of your home? 

At our old house we were fortunate enough to have free internet for three years ( especially since I was working part-time as a grad student!) Comcast service cost around $50 at the time, and the same month we were moving there was a Willamette Week article about a group trying to provide free internet to Portlanders (through this new thing called wi-fi!). Serendipitously, one of the board members lived three houses away and provided free service the adjacent park from his rooftop. He graciously helped me set things up for the cost a $50 buck router, and we proceeded to get free internet for the next three years. I also gave them a $100 donation when I moved as a thank you for saving us over $1500! Check out the Personal Telco node map to see if you frequent any of their hot spots…there are plenty of parks in Portland with free wi-fi from them.

Alas, when we moved two years ago there weren’t any free hot spots in our neighborhood…still none. So we reluctantly set about buying monthly internet service. I wan’t to avoid Comcast if at all possible, mostly because they are focused on providing expensive cable packages, and that’s not really our thing.

Clear was just hitting the Portland market and had tons of advertising, so we decided to check them out. Thankfully have strong coverage in our neighborhood, and they’ll check with you right in the store to see if they cover your home. We opted for the mid-range speed at a cost of $34.99 a month. After two years of service, we’ve been really satisfied with Clear. The whole point is that you don’t want to think about where you’re getting internet service, because there are plenty of better things to do with your time online 😉

Notably…right now Clear has a deal for a free month and free set-up if you book service online!

On a side note…I think our kids will truly wonder why we couldn’t save the world quicker with the pace they’ll know by the time they are in charge 😉

Who provides your internet service? 
What’s your monthly cost?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Neti pot investment

I became “neti pot curious” a few years ago, when my Twin Sis’ friend was advised to use a neti pot for chronic sinus issues

What is Neti Pot? For those still wondering what this is, the basic explanation is that you fill with warm water with a pinch of salt, and then pour into one nostril and out the other side.  If you are stuffed up, it might take a moment to drain, but you will feel immediate relief!

Thankfully, I’ve never had really painful sinus issues, but I was perpetually plagued with an on/off snuffy nose during the winter, and allergies in the spring. I had learned to live with it, but it was an annoying nuisance. So, I took the plunge and bought a ceramic neti pot at New Season’s for about $10 (or available on Amazon) My sis has an enviable cute blue one, (it is prettier than the picture!).  I also know others who have found a cute small Asian tea pot, but it would have to be the right design.

I’m happy to say, that in the past two years, minus a couple flu bugs, I’ve been able to breath clearly all winter with regular use on my neti pot. It only takes a couple of minutes, but the small time investment always pays back. I swear employers should give out neti pots as part of health benefits 😉

Even after two years, Hubby doesn’t quite get the whole neti pot idea (oddly since lately he’s been battling a true sinus infection and refuses to try it!) For the most part I try to do it while he’s walking the dog or already in bed, but when he does “catch” dripping salt water out my nose, he can’t help but give me a funny sideways look. But I refuse to let his taunting get interfere with my health…I don’t care how funny I look!

I do plan on teaching the kids to use the neti pot once they are big enough, and hopefully it will help them stay healthy for more of the year and avoid some of the childhood bugs.

EnviroMom covered this topic a few years back, and the reader comments reminded me that I use my neti pot in the spring to clean out pollen and prevent allergies.

Before trying my neti pot, I wanted a demonstration. So, I found this fun video of a furry guy with ginormous nostrils. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure you won’t look as funny as this dude using your neti pot 🙂

PS The last ten seconds shows a non-family friendly example of what you “shouldn’t attempt at home!”

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Green Love

Romance and frugality don’t necessarily mesh in modern consumer times, but in reality love doesn’t cost money. Last year I wrote about how I would much rather get local tulips than expensive roses shipped from the tropics, and this year I told Hubby to just wait until he can pick me up some at the local farmer’s market.

I have a night meeting on Valentine’s, so I made our “romantic” dinner a night early. As usual, once I got into the thick of cooking, the kids started demanding even more of my attention…they seem to have a cooking radar! So, I asked Hubby to play with them. 

They came up with the idea of indoor bowling, using some big plastic summer patio cups and a few balls. They had a fantastic time rolling the ball from the kitchen island to the front door, and managed to stay thoroughly entertained the whole time I prepped dinner. I even managed to play the second round once things were in the oven. I also found my indoor bowling groove, and managed to beat the boys by a point. Our Big Guy was sooo excited about me winning the trophy, so I asked him what the “trophy” was after all, he excitedly exclaimed “Your trophy is the best family ever!!” Then we had a big family hug/kiss…where we lift the kids up and all exchange hugs and kisses…talk about romantic!

40 Ways to Give More Love – Becoming Minimalist
8 Essentials for a Successful Marriage – Becoming Minimalist

How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.