Cleansing, yes, frugal, uh, not so much

You know what’s really clean? My car’s new power steering fluid. You know what else is really clean? My checking account!

Yup, I’m ready for the Borscht Belt.

Seriously, though, I actually had an incredibly productive week, full of taking care of business at work and at home. I knocked a ton of stuff off my work to-do list and even got underway on a major new project — not bad for a four-day workweek where I was still recovering from jet lag.

Meanwhile, at home, I ate a lot of vegetables, made bread and made another batch of sour cherry jam (which I’d been meaning to do for a month), cleaned the bathroom, conditioned my boots, took apart the bedframe and put the boxspring and mattress on the floor*, made a haircut appointment, and took my car both to the mechanic and to the place that vacuums out the inside.

The vacuum place, I have no complaints! The $8 to turn that chore over to someone else was well worth it. I don’t have complaints about the mechanic either actually, it was just more expensive than I’d hoped for. I got an oil change, and asked them also to look at the brakes (which turned out to be fine) and at a noise I’d been hearing when making a hard left turn. They weren’t 100% sure what the noise was about, but cited several issues that it *could* be, all of which needed to be dealt with anyway as a matter of maintenance (the power steering fluid) and/or safety (there was something loose that…shouldn’t have been loose.) All of that, plus a couple other maintenance things, came to about $400, mostly in labor. It all needed doing, so no regrets, but I’m not feeling very frugal after all, especially since I’m also having trouble sticking to the amount of cash I took out at the beginning of May (much less than I usually take out, because of the trip.)

I really can’t wait to fill this emergency fund up; the first thing I’m doing after that is putting money into my “gremlins” and “repairs” funds. I’ve been managing so far without having to taking anything out of the EF but I don’t like feeling so close to the edge all the time; it would be great to have several hundred dollars worth of cushion sitting around in my spending money.

[Edited to add: oh yeah, I took a suit jacket to the dry cleaners and did a massive cleanup of my office at work — piles of papers sorted and put away, etc — so that was really good too.]

*I’d been meaning to do this for a while; I rent a room, so the bed’s not mine, and I’ve thought it was too high off the ground basically since I moved in. Now that summer is rapidly coming on, I especially wanted to be lower to the ground so the fan (which sits on the floor) can actually reach me!

22 thoughts on “Cleansing, yes, frugal, uh, not so much

  1. “…it would be great to have several hundred dollars worth of cushion sitting around in my spending money.” I know that I would spend through a cushion like that. Although feeling close to the edge involves a level of stress, it ensures an effective use of your money. It’s great that you managed to pay for these necessities with money you had on hand AND that you set aside money for your emergency fund. That’s a victory right there!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Huh, that’s a good point — maybe if I had the cushion I’d just use it 🙂 I guess I’ll find out in October.

  2. Kalie says:

    Spending money on car maintenance and repairs is always a drag, but I have to remind myself that money doesn’t exist just to sit in savings accounts! And it’s great that you saved ahead of time. I love that you have a gremlins fund. Life always throws those at us sooner or later.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I got the idea from Cat at Budget Blonde and I love it — it was just what I needed to keep that money out of my “free-spending” zone and around for things that I actually need, like car repairs. You’re right, it doesn’t exist to sit in savings accounts…and my ancient car needs an infusion of cash as an offering to the automotive gods every now and then. 🙂

  3. I love those super productive moments, even if they are a little costly. Those little gremlins often fall by the wayside but there are necessary fixes in life, like car maintenance. Speaking of which I need new tires. grrr. Obviously my hope with moving is being able to tackle more of those things without a second thought…oh, and save of course. Hope the e-fund gets filled up fast!!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I totally tend to be either hyperproductive or get NOTHING done for weeks on end. It’d be nice to even things out sometimes 🙂

  4. Mel says:

    I have never heard the phrase Borsht Belt, but I love it. And I love Borsht.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Oh, really? You’re a theater person, this is a good story for you. The Borscht Belt was a comedy circuit for Jewish comedians going to resorts in the Catskills, mostly, and doing kind of corny standup. Think like the resort in Dirty Dancing. Lots of “take my wife–please” jokes — which is why my clean wallet joke made me think of it 🙂

      1. Hannah says:

        I’m glad I read the comments. I will use this factoid to sound educated and mildly hipster.

        1. thesingledollar says:

          Y’all are making me feel old as the hills!

  5. Alicia says:

    Oh man, I wish I got my car cleaned. It needs a good armorall-ing (yep I’m making brands into action words…) and vacuum after the winter. I have been vacuuming everything in sight for spring cleaning. Vacuuming couches, chairs, mattresses (both the futon and the one in the master bedroom)… Taking apart and thoroughly cleaning the fans for summer. I’ve gone a little overboard. Thankfully it isn’t costing me too much. Just elbow grease.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I am a terrible vacuum-er — I can barely manage rugs, let alone furniture. Possibly I just need a better vacuum though; I don’t have one that has a little nozzle on it that can get into crevices. Anyway, yeah, the car desperately needed some love. I’d love to get the floor mats shampooed too but that was included in a much more expensive package. I might go for it in the fall if I’m feeling flush 🙂

  6. Kristin says:

    Ugh, I’m currently going through the same thing! My roomie actually went and cleaned my car for me since I’ve been doing most of the chores around our apartment and that was a great trade off if you ask me. I detest cleaning out my car. I’ve been uber productive the past few days and tackling some financial issues head on. It sucks coming to grips with things that are out of my control financially, but I’m glad to check things off my list and have a plan!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I’m a huge fan of trading off chores you hate 🙂 I don’t like cleaning out the car either. It involves a lot of bending over and twisting to get into the back seat (I have a two-door) and I’m too old for that nonsense! Which is funny because I don’t mind laundry or dishes at all. I could do either of those all day — in fact, I used to have a side hustle doing laundry, which sometimes really could be 10 hours a day 🙂

  7. It was that kind of month for us too. Then our lawnmower died a few days ago. It is beyond repair so we need to get a new one tonight =/

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Oh dear! How much lawn do you have? We have almost none, so my housemate owns one of those old-fashioned push mowers with no power. They’re a pain, but they never break down.

  8. It sounds like you’ve been super-productive!!

    Car repairs can be killer. I’ve already spent $500 this month for new tires, since I was told that the old ones would not pass inspection, which I’m due for by the end of the month…

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, it sucks when there are issues — it never seems like you can just pay $100, it’s always $300+!

  9. Dang, girl! Way to make an average joe feel left behind over here! Haha, just kidding, I love those super productive days and weeks, and it sounds like you´re killing it over there.
    I laughed out loud about the bed being on the ground, hahaha. People always comment about how high my bed is off the ground, but I love it. A friend once said I´d need a parachute to get down hahaha.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Or a ladder for your dog to climb up 🙂 I don’t know, I feel safer when I’m lower to the ground or something.

  10. I don’t think you should let a repair bill make you feel unfrugal. Frugality is about optional choices, not about bills that you can’t help incurring.

    We have two gremlins funds (love the name): car and washer/dryer. We put $2.50 in each time we do a load. ($300 in a year, baby!) And I put $100 in for the car each month. Our vehicle is running a little sluggishly lately. It’s due for an oil change soon, so we’ll have the mechanic take a look.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Good point about frugality. OK, it was still a frugal-ish week, just an expensive one 🙂 I love the washer/dryer “jar” idea. Good luck with the car!

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