Monday, October 31, 2011

Debt Free by Thirty: The Plan

I recently decided that I want to eliminate my student loan debt by the time I turn thirty, which is twelve months away. Right now I have $9,188.92 to go.

Obviously I need a game plan.

Here's what I figured-

*Right now around $53 per month goes toward my principle payment (my total payment is about $80/month).
*I have $3,000 of loan forgiveness which should be credited by the end of the school year.
*I'm planning on putting my tax return toward my student loan. I'm planning for another $2,000 there.
*This leaves me with around $300 per month to pay on my loans to make this happen.

Yuck. I'm not looking forward to this, but I know I can do it. And with interest rates so low, even my Summer Saver only gets me 0.7% more in interest than I pay on my loan. So while I love the feeling of saving money, I also know that it's not much more beneficial to wait on my student loan.

If I go with this plan, I can keep contributing to my Roth IRA, my 403(b), and still save around $300 per month. And Dave Ramsey would be proud. It's "WWDRD?" approved.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bloggy Secret Santa

Serendipity is hosting a Blogger Secret Santa gift exchange for Christmas, and I'm in! There's a $15 limit, so it's totally reasonable. I think it will be super fun to try to come up with a gift for a fellow blogger based on what they tell me and by reading their blog stalker style to determine what they would like. And, I'll get something in mail too, which is always fun! You should do it!

Serendipity also asked us to write a bit about our likes and dislikes. So here goes:

I like jewelry, especially necklaces. I don't like animals. I like quirky movies, I can never have enough lip gloss, and I love to read.

I feel like that's enough to go on. I'm excited!

Friday, October 28, 2011

October Was a Bad Month...or Was It?

I just did some balancing and tallying for October, as I had not tracked my spending all week. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I had an unexpected quincienera gift to buy, the dentist, a shopping trip, a 5k I signed up for, a class I took through LAUSD, and a bunch of little things I spent money on. And sure enough, I ended up pulling $50 out of my E-fund to make sure I would be good until I get paid next Thursday.

I was sort of mad at myself for having to do that, but then I remembered-I managed to save $2000 this month. (Or $1,950 if you count my $50 from my E-fund).

I guess it wasn't too bad of a month after all.

I carried $500 of that over from September's budget, but the rest came from my October paycheck. This puts me on track for my Roth IRA contributions, and leaves me with $1,000 in my savings. I'm not sure what that money's for. I go back and forth on what to do with it, so for now it will just sit in my Summer Saver to earn my good interest rate.

But, it made me realize that even when I go a little off track, I've come a long way from when I was using credit cards every month and had no idea where my money went. All I knew was that none of it was going to savings. And now I have a healthy savings account. And that feels good.

Do you ever realize that you aren't doing so bad after beating yourself up?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teacher Spending

It's pretty common for teachers to spend their own money on their classrooms. So common that people don't see it as a problem.

It is a problem. What other job would ask you to buy supplies without getting reimbursed? Do nurses buy their patients medicines? Do bankers buy their own...crap, I don't even know what they use. Pens? (Every business needs pens).

I think you get my point. I usually fight hard against buying things for my classroom, because it's simply unfair. This year, for whatever reason, I've spent more than I planned already. Here's the damage so far:

*Online grading program: The school says they bought a membership, but it took so long to materialize that I bought a membership to Jupiter Grades for $49.95. This is an online grading system so students and parents can check their grades 24 hours a day.
*Snacks-these are for my class reward system (bonus bucks). One of the incentives is a snack, so I went to Big Lots and spent around $20 on pretzels, granola bars, fruit snacks, and bottles of water. (I refuse to buy candy. They get enough junk, so I try to buy things with some semblance of health to them.)
*Pencils-this is also something the kids can buy with bonus bucks. Rather than be SUPER annoyed by kids telling me they don't have a pencil and asking to borrow one, I "sell" them for two bonus bucks. For whatever reason, they've been selling like crazy this year. I've spent around $5 so far, which isn't a ton, but I know this is going to keep adding up throughout the year.
*Markers/Crayons-before school started I hit up Walmart and got colored pencils, markers, pencil boxes, erasers, sharpeners, and crayons for my classroom. It makes doing projects a lot easier and these are honestly just necessities for any classroom. I spent about $25 on these items.
*Halloween-this isn't required, but I bought my student's erasers and "scary" rings for Halloween. Again, I'm anti-candy, but I wanted to get them a little something. I usually get Halloween pencils, but with class sizes over 40, I went for the more economical erasers. I spent about $5 on this.

Total so far: $105. And it's October. :/

I'm definitely going to try to cut back, but I know it's not totally over. So, for all the parents who complain about buying back to school supplies, please know that the teachers get it. We buy school supplies too. I try to make my supply lists contain only what is necessary, but if I didn't have a pretty lengthy supply list, I'd spend even more of my own money than I already do.

Any other teachers wan to chime in with how much you spend? I have a feeling I'm on the lower end of the spectrum, actually.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spending Week: The Dentist

Last week I had my dentist appointment to get my filling replaced. This is the one that has fallen out a few times, and the dentist was worried it might be a root canal. Luckily I dodged that bullet!

I talked about my dental dilemma about a month ago, but essentially the metal fillings are free (via insurance) and the nice, white, non-mercury filled ones cost me $110. Yuck. Before I went in, I was leaning toward the metal one, especially since this filling likes to come out (it's happened twice already). I shared my concerns and she said that the white ones usually stay in better. I told her it's always been white ones that have popped out and she offered me a deal: if it comes out, she'll put in a metal one and refund me the money for this filling. Basically a money-back guarantee.

It worked. Partly because it's towards the front on the bottom and the metal would be visible. And I'm vain like that. For the other cavity I have that is on the top in the back, I'm going with metal. Bring on the mercury.

Since I didn't plan on getting the white filling, I didn't budget for the expense. I am trying to make up the amount in other areas of my budget, but if I have to I'll use my emergency fund to cover the amount.

What would you do/have you done in this situation?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Unexpected Deals at The Limited

Last week the boyfriend and I went out for a date night. We hit up a new spot for Happy Hour sushi, and then went to the movies since the tickets are $5 each on Tuesdays. This theater is at the mall, and we had some time to kill, so I wandered into my favorite store, The Limited.

This is not normally where I go for discount clothes, but they do have a pretty good clearance rack. And that night, they were even having a take an additional 40% off sale. YES. Though I had not exactly budgeted for this trip, I did a little retail therapy after a long day at school and picked up a few things.

I got this skirt, which is super fun. I wore it with black tights and boots and a black sweater. Orange isn't usually in my color palette, but with the black lace I thought it was fun. Original cost: $80...I got it for $11.99. I got a lot of compliments on it from the kids, many of whom called it my "Halloween skirt."

I also got a super cute purple vest. My school color is purple, and we're supposed to wear it every Monday, so I thought this was a good find. I wore it with a white button down and dark jeans, along with the super cute matching purple necklace I got. The vest was originally $50, I got it for $10.19. The necklace was originally $25, but I got that for $6.59. 
All told I spent $31.29, which I think is great. I decided that I will make this my October dress code reward (assuming I stick to the dress code), which means most of it will come out of next month's budget.

Apparently this is my week of spending posts, since I've got another one coming about spending money at the dentist and how much I've spent on my classroom this year. Neither of which is as fun as the last few posts about real shopping.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthday Gift Cards Part Two-TJ Maxx

My lovely friend Becca gave me a gift card to TJ Maxx for my birthday. I had some time to kill before my mom's birthday dinner, so I stopped for my free Starbucks drink and then did some shopping at TJ Maxx. I got some great deals in the clearance section. Here they are:

Super cute bowls-I LOVE these bowls. One is a bright pink, the other teal, and both are a bamboo like design on the inside. Suggested price was $20, TJ's price was $8, and I got each one for $3 in the clearance section. Score!

I also stumbled across some good Christmas finds, and all for people who I do not think read this blog. So, I will share. I got some super cute stationary and pen sets for my sixth grade co-teachers for seven bucks each. I snagged some cute cards for my grandma (because she is the queen of thank you notes), and a bed caddy that I think she'll like to keep books and such near her without cluttering her nightstand. The cards were marked down to $2 and the caddy was originally $13, but marked down to $3! And last, I got 24 fun pencils for my classroom for another $2.

I spent $4 out of my own pocket, and am super excited about my finds. I am seriously enamored with the bowls, and I think the bed caddy is so cool, I may just keep it. And, I am thrilled to start my Christmas shopping with some deals...especially since my best idea for the boyfriend's gift is extremely pricey. But more on that later.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Taking A Breath

Yes, I'm alive. I just haven't been online except for work stuff since Tuesday. It was a crazy week. Besides work, I had:

Monday-dentist appointment
Tuesday-date night with bf
Wednesday-Doctor's appointment and Mom's birthday
Thursday-Middle School Pep Squad practice and a hair appointment
Friday-Happy hour (can't complain about that!)
Saturday-All day class to earn salary points, BF's family event last night

It's. Been. Crazy.

I have several blog posts rolling around in my mind. I'm a little over budget because of my dentist appointment and a small shopping trip on Tuesday. I am considering it my dress code reward for October. :)

Today I'm running errands, looking for a Halloween costume, cleaning my house, and writing a week's worth of blog posts. I've missed writing and reading your blogs, and hopefully this week will be a bit more mellow.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Birthday Gift Card: Part 1

A couple of friends very generously bought me a $40 Target gift card for my birthday. I had a few ideas of how to use it:

a) Buy a foot bath to make my at home pedicures more impressive and relaxing
b) Buy a bunch of necessities for myself so they won't have to come out of my regular budget
c)Buy Christmas gifts for other people

I decided on option B, but also added in a few things for my Halloween costume. I spent $48.15 (so only $8.15 out of pocket). I used coupons from the paper to try to get even more bang for my buck. Here's what I got:

Dryer Sheets-$1.99
Lysol Kitchen Cleaner-$1.97
Crest Toothpaste with free travel sized toothpaste-$1.99 after coupon
Two boxes Tampax Pearl Comak-$3.99 for both (buy one get one free coupon)
Sulfate Free Conditioner-$5.99
Twin Pack Dove Deoderant-$3.14 after coupon
Neutrogena Face Wash-$4.99
Ten pack pencils (for work)-$1.00
Neutrogena Foundation-$9.99 after coupon
False Eyelashes (for Halloween)-$3.00
Red shirt (for Halloween)-on clearance for $5.60

I'm sure the extreme couponers out there could have done better, but I'm pretty pleased with my purchases. I made myself buy Neutrogena foundation instead of Clinique. If I like it I am saving over $15. Here's hoping I can make the switch.

Some would say I should have gone with option A and treated myself...but honestly I had fun finding items on sale and I'm pretty excited about getting all of these items for only eight bucks (which is coming out of the $50 I budgeted for Halloween). I've seen some posts about how PF bloggers are not like most people...I think this is one of those times where that is proven correct. Especially since I photographed and blogged about my trip to Target.

How do you use gift cards?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Budget Communication

Last night I was helping the BF work on his resume, something I've wanted to get my hands on for a while. It went well and we got a lot done. He was saying it sounded good and that we made a lot of progress. I said "Now if I can just get my hands on your budget..." And he replied, "Go ahead."


He told me how much he brings home and what bills he has. I wrote up a rough template last night and we talked about it some. He asked some questions, including: "The thing I've never understood about budgeting is how do I plan for something like gas? I don't know how much I'm going to spend ahead of time." I talked him through it, emphasizing that he needs to record EVERYTHING he spends in order to figure out what his budget should look like.

He said, "Oh, like Weight Watchers." Totally reminded me of Red's post about weight loss this week. :) He made several comparisons to WW, which was a good way to get him on board since he's been really successful at that (kicking my ass at it, in fact.)

Anyway, I don't think I should go into too much detail here on his budget...apparently he believes in something called "privacy." Pssshhh. But I did allow extra money each month to go towards his savings or his debt, which made me excited. Here's hoping he will stick to it, because this would get us onto the same page with things, which would be AWESOME.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm 29!

I got this idea from my friend Jessica, who did this for her 27th birthday. I decided to make a list of 28 things I'm thankful for or proud of that happened while I was 28, plus something I'm looking forward to, to make the list 29 things for my 29th birthday. Read on, if you'd like to know!

1. I have been lucky enough to stay in good overall health this year.
2. I lived on my own (as in by myself) for the first time, and actually enjoyed it.
3. My boyfriend and I moved in together, which has been a great decision. I am so thankful for all the ways we make each other happy.
4. I started a 403(b).
5. I started a Roth IRA, and am on track to max it out this year.
6. I paid off my car loan eleven months early!
7. I made sure I got my loan forgiveness for my student loans, and received my second to last payment.
8. I got to visit Alaska for the first time and have an amazing trip with my sister.
9. I visited Chicago for the first time with Freddie and learned a lot about how we travel together.
10. I went to San Francisco and saw a baseball game with three of my cousins.
11. I got closer to my cousin Karen and had lots of fun times with her this year.
12. I did not get laid off this year.
13. I was able to work and a brand new school. While this is not without challenges, I am thankful for this new opportunity.
14. I finally called in to a radio show on NPR to talk about education.
15. I used the library to avoid buying ANY books this year, and read many books.
16. I got closer with my friend Jessica and I am thankful that she is also friends with my boyfriend.
17. I maintained this blog and feel like I am making more "friends" across the blogosphere.
18. I kept going to book club, which has been fun and made me read a variety of books I might not have read otherwise.
19. I met my goal of selling over $500 worth of items online.
20. I ran a 5k without stopping to walk once!
21. I go to work with kids I like each day, and have been able to keep in touch with some awesome former students.
22. I used my Spanish to communicate with parents at Back-to-School Night, even though I am not fluent. (Goal-work on Spanish next Summer)
23. Took enough classes to get a raise at work, and learned about all sorts of things that made me a better teacher.
24. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner and Easter brunch for my family, and I'm very thankful they were able to be with me.
25. I co-coordinated the Pennies for Patients fundraiser at my school, raising over $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
26. I am thankful for new friends that I've made at work and through my boyfriend's friends and families.
27. I am thankful for my friendships with old friends, which though they have changed, are still valuable in my life.
28. I am thankful for my family who supports me no matter what.

And the thing I am most looking forward to this year: I plan to pay off my student loan before I turn thirty, which will make me officially, 100% debt free!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogging Energy

I've noticed a pattern for my blogging habits. Over the weekend, I'm all gung ho. I write posts for the week. I started on Twitter last week, and began thinking of how to get more readers and eventually make some money on my blog.

Then Monday comes. Work has been crazy, I come home tired after a long day of teaching, grading, meetings, etc. I spend a little time with the boyfriend, relax a little, and then I'm done for the night. I barely manage to look at the comments you are so kind to leave (please don't stop leaving them!), much less think about writing any more posts. I really like having this blog, but man I am glad I've written my posts for the week.

Do you ever find it hard to blog? What keeps you going?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dress Code Reward, Month One

I posted last month about my dress code challenge for this school year. I stipulated that if I met my goals each month I get $25 to spend on clothes or what have you. I succeeded in keeping the code for September, and chose to spend my money on a new Clinique compact during bonus time. I got this:
I'm actually giving my mom two of the items. I've already used the lip color, and when my face wash runs out I'm looking forward to trying the sample I got. :)

This month has been easy so far since last week was Spirit Week, and all rules are off for that. But, I have to get back into my routine of dressing like a professional this week! I already have plans for next months $25, but I've got to earn it! :)

Do you ever set up rewards for yourself? Does it work to keep you motivated?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Might Be Hooked

I mentioned that I was running a 5k in honor of my 29th birthday this week. The race was today, and I will admit that I hadn't trained in the last few weeks. Like, at all.

I don't have a history of running, so my goal was to run the whole time, no matter how slowly. Once I stopped training, I figured I would walk part, but decided to do it anyway.

But as I got going, I made a decision to run the whole thing. AND I DID IT!!

My time was 35:55, and I have to say I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face. And my friend Elaine and I have already talked about signing up for the Long Beach Turkey Trot and trying to beat our times on Thanksgiving morning.

Running isn't a super expensive hobby, but there are expenses associated with races...but if it keeps me more motivated to exercise and gives me the feeling of accomplishment I had today, I think it'll be worth it.

What's that? You want to see sweaty, red-faced pictures of me at the race? Done!

Nearing the end!

Elaine and I started together, and then she beat me by five minutes. :)
Freddie ran with me for a bit at the water station...and took pictures of me with water on my shirt.

Yay for my supportive boyfriend, who runs 9 miles at at time, but still says he's proud of me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Team GPS

About six months ago, my boyfriend's car got broken into in his garage. Super lame. His GPS was stolen, among other things. Since his car has On Star capabilities, he called them and asked for a free trial of their navigation plan. On Star is pretty awesome, and gave him six months free! He used that, but decided that when it ran out he wanted to buy a new GPS, in part because I have a tendency to get lost and he wanted to be able to have both of us use it.

He searched online and found a brand new one on Craigslist for $120. It has lifetime maps and traffic updates, and that was about $25 cheaper than what we could find online for similar features. He kept asking me what I thought and I was saying I didn't care as I read blogs.

"It seems like a good idea, since you'll have it for a long time."
"We'll have it for a long time."
"Ohhhh, yeah. Did you want me to split the cost with you?"

It's interesting, because a GPS is not something I'd buy for myself. But, I knew that once he bought it, I'd use it all the time. Much like the iPod Touch he bought used online, which he's used about twice since he bought it. I use it. All. The. Time.

Part of me didn't want to buy wasn't exactly in my budget or part of my renewed gazelle-like goals. But since I knew I'd use it a lot, and I feel kind of bad about the whole iPod thing, I gave him the sixty bucks for it. I used it over the weekend, and I'll be honest. I love it. I'm glad we split it so I don't have to feel guilty for wanting to use it a lot. And it goes back to my post about being a team.

Freddie is not as frugal as I am, though he does look for deals and does sell things on Amazon or Craigslist. When he wants something (usually a gadget of some sort), he researches, tries to find it used or on sale, and sells the older model he's getting rid of on Amazon or Craigslist to recoup some of his expenses. I'm more likely to deprive myself. Sometimes it's good for me to be with someone who will just buy something if he will enjoy it. I never would have bought the iPod Touch, but I really wanted one. Same with the GPS. This doesn't mean I'm going wild and buying a new TV and computer. But I think we both push each other a little bit, which is a good thing.

And I'm less likely to get lost, so I'll save on gas money. I can justify anything.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Choosing Not to Afford It

Recently I attended a wedding in Santa Barbara. The bride is a childhood friend, and I'm really glad I went to see her get married. She was so happy and gracious...asking everyone if they were having fun and if they needed anything during the reception. (I joked to my other friend that I should say, "Hey, the toilet's clogged, can you go take care of that?")

I live a few hours from Santa Barbara, and attended with another old friend, as dates were not invited (don't get me started). It was a lot of driving, but my friend and I shared gas and had a good time. About a month before the wedding, the bride messaged me about getting a hotel room and mentioned she had a friend we could share a room with if we wanted. I wrote back saying I had just planned to drive home after. She recommended staying so we could "drink and have fun," which is understandable.

The room would have been $50 each, and I just didn't care to spend the money. The drive isn't terrible, and I'd rather come home to my own bed and my boyfriend than spend more money for the wedding weekend, especially since I knew hardly anyone else there. So I wrote back thanking her for the option, but that I'd rather not spend the money.

Her response was worded in such a way that she seemed to think I didn't HAVE the money. It annoyed me more than it probably should have. I COULD spend the money, I just didn't WANT to. (I'll stop capitalizing words now. Sorry.)

I don't know why this bugged me so much. Perhaps because it suggests I am not good at managing money if I can't come up with $50 for a hotel room? Or because I care too much about what she thinks, and I didn't want her to think I am poor? I didn't want her pity? I don't know, but I had to fight the urge to write back and clarify that I could afford it, I just didn't want to.

(I didn't say I wouldn't use italics!)

Have you had a similar experience? Did it bother you?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Frugal Romance-Chores

Of the two of us, I am definitely the cleaner half of this couple. I'm not a neat freak, but I don't like clutter, and dirtyness gets to me before it gets to my BF. He goes out of his way to make an effort, but I probably do more deep cleaning and maintenance than he does.

But over the last few weeks BF has been doing a lot of little things around the house that really make me happy. Last weekend, he cleaned the whole kitchen, including the stove, sink, counters, and floor (not to mention the stack of dishes in the sink). He took out the trash. Another day I came home and he had vacuumed the floors.

Yes, this is part of living together. We both work full-time, so we both do chores. But I know that he went out of his way to do extra because he knows it makes me happy. And it spurs on more good deeds. I did a load of his laundry while he was at work last weekend, because I know how nice it is to have something done for you. I cleaned up before he got home from work this week, and he did the same by doing the dishes almost everyday (which was AWESOME.) I think it gets me more excited to have cleaning done for me, but he was pretty stoked about his laundry.

So, as an act of service and romance, pick your partners least favorite chore and do it for them. And there's nothing wrong with letting them know you did it for that reason! Maybe it will start a chain reaction in your household too.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Introducing, my Twitter Account!

It is the dawn of a new era here at my blog. I have joined Twitter, which may be the first step to changing the name of the blog. Or not, it's not final yet. But since I won't be owning a home by thirty, and I'd like to keep blogging past that age, I started thinking about my blog long-term. I don't want a sudden change, so I thought I'd start a Twitter with what might eventually become the name of this blog.

So, please follow me on Twitter! I will be posting about personal finance (of course), but also about various feminist issues I find interesting. The feminism thing is new for readers of this blog, but it's something I am more and more interested in, so my Twitter will reflect that. Just as there are environmentalist PF bloggers, Mom PF bloggers, and Christian PF bloggers, this is part of who I am. I hope that even those of you who wouldn't call yourselves feminists will read my posts, because they will be interesting and will hopefully present some new perspectives. 

Some of those issues will be making their way onto this blog as well, as they naturally come about. I'm not trying to force my blog to be anything in's an extension of who I am, and for those of you who are interested enough to come along for the ride, I sincerely thank you. I hope to make even more blogger friends in the years to come.

All that to say, follow me on Twitter! I'd love to follow some of my favorite bloggers (and friends) too! My username is @frugalfeminist.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Earned my $50 ING Bonus!

Today I went to the gym (where two machines shut off on me, making for the worst workout ever), and then went to run a few errands. I decided to use my ING Debit card three times today so that I could earn my $50 bonus. I have fifty bucks in there, so I needed to make small purchases. I also wanted to buy things I would have purchased anyway so that I wasn't spending for spending's sake.

First, I went to Big Lots, where I bought cotton pads to take off my eye makeup ($1.20).  I also saw a sulfate-free shampoo for only $2(!) so I decided to try that as well. I also impulse purchased a 2 liter bottle of diet soda for .75. Not bad, got out of the store for less than five bucks.

Next, I headed to Target to buy Lysol wipes. I found a rebate for up to $5 on them, so I'll eventually get that money back. I also grabbed 120 Halloween erasers to give out to my students ($2). Spent about seven bucks.

Last I went to Trader Joe's to get rice and stir fry ingredients for tonight's dinner. I also bought one of their pre-made salads to take to lunch one day next week. I spent around nine dollars there.

Now I just have to wait a month and a half to see the bonus. But, I'm glad I got that taken care of in one day. I'm gong to transfer the money from my credit union account back into ING so that I don't lose any of my savings from these purchases. Remind me to double check with ING around Thanksgiving to make sure I get my bonus!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Bedding Blues

Lately I have REALLY been wanting new bedding.

I'm bored with my comforter and curtains. They're fine. Nothing is actually wrong with them. The comforter cover is fading from being washed, but not in bad condition. But blah. I'm bored.

The down comforter is not the highest quality, and it's sort of lumpy. Not as think as I would like. Also, it's kind of...dirty. I use a cover, but you know, it's been used for several years now.

My sheets could stand to be replaced. The pillowcases are faded from a face wash I used to use, along with the effects of being washed and used every night for a year. The bottom sheet seems sort of stretched doesn't lay perfectly flat.

My mattress pad has a few small tears in it, and it keeps coming off of the mattress, so it looks lumpy.

Despite all the strikes against my bedding, so far, I'm holding out. I really need to buckle down on my spending, and I am getting back into my frugal, gazelle-like ways. That means no going shopping for new bedding just because I'm bored and it's imperfect.

Here's how I'm trying to sooth the bedding blues.

Yesterday BF took all the bedding (including down comforter) to the laundry mat and washed all of it. While he was gone, I used my brush attachment on the vacuum to clean the actual mattress. That made me feel better about it.

When he came home, I pulled my other duvet cover out of my drawer. It's gray and white, and from Crate and Barrel, so it's a higher quality fabric than my blue one. I originally got a new one to brighten up the room, since gray and white with white walls is a little blah. But, I'm realizing I can use colored sheets to brighten things up, so the blue sheets work. Just having a different cover was an improvement, even if it's an old cover.

Each night I've been spraying a lavender linen spray (that I bought at a candle party years ago) on my sheets. This makes climbing into bed a more pleasant experience.

I am trying to make the bed more often, which hides the stretched out nature of the sheets and makes the bed more attractive in general.

All of these things make me feel much better about my bedding. My plan is to wait until after my birthday or Christmas to use gift funds to buy a new set of sheets. A friend says she's found great deals at the swap meet and at TJ Maxx. I think new sheets would definitely do the trick, but I am waiting a few more months to make that happen.

All of my tips to feel better about my bedding basically come down to taking care of what I have. By taking some time and effort to clean and make my items look their best, I am much happier with them. I think this is true of all of my possessions. When I take care of them, it improves my quality of life.

What dingy/old items could you take better care of in order to increase your contentment with them? How do you breathe new life into your home?