Weekend and life updates

I wrote last week that I was crashing toward my next book deadline. I am happy to report that I turned in my manuscript around 3 p.m. on Friday. That left just enough time to cross another nagging to-do — coloring my hair — off the list before the kids got off the bus at 4:05 p.m. I am efficient like that (and frugal! I should calculate how much money I’ve saved in 20 years of coloring my own hair vs. paying a pro).

One reason to get rid of my roots: I am speaking at Leadercast Women in Atlanta this week. There are simulcasts in a few locations if you don’t happen to be in the Atlanta area. I need to decide on my outfit for sure tomorrow!

The weekend had the usual mix of kid stuff, though there was this miracle: both Saturday and Sunday I woke up on my own. Not to screams of “Mommy, open my door!” The 2-year-old is staying up a lot later, though he’s been sleeping later too. So I guess it’s a mixed thing, but I’m happy to lie in bed for a bit. There is something luxurious about not immediately starting the day caring for someone else.

Saturday was more relaxed than it could have been. This was a very conscious exchange of money for happiness. A payoff for being frugal in the hair department? My husband was flying in from Europe and meeting us at the almost-6-year-old’s birthday party at a trampoline park in the afternoon. So I had sitter coverage all day. That allowed me to take the almost-6-year-old and the 10-year-old to karate on Saturday morning without chasing a 2-year-old. After we got home, I went for a run and then showered with no one bothering me. My husband’s plane was on time, so he showed up at the party before any of the guests (a good thing). The party went well, and I could chat with other parents, since I had outsourced watching the 2-year-old. We did presents at home after and then I read for a bit. I finished Still Life, by Louise Penny. A reader had recommended that as a good “autumnal” book: rich description of fall scenery, a little bit spooky. It was all those things. I had not read a whodunnit in a while, and this was pretty good as those things go, though I’m not sure I entirely bought the ending, and the motivations of the perpetrator.  My husband and I took advantage of the sitter coverage to go out for a quick dinner. We toasted my manuscript with margaritas.

On Sunday, I managed to get a quick treadmill run AND a shower in before the 2-year-old woke up. I have no idea what happened there (I may have gone to sleep before the 2-year-old; my husband took over on that one). I went to church to sing with the chamber choir, which is the small group. We were doing some more challenging African-influenced music for world communion Sunday. I noted that my family was not in the pews for the first song, and in fact, walked in when the children’s message was over. It turned out that my 2-year-old had pooped on the way to church, and my husband was hunting around in the car for wipes, but they were all gone. So then he had to retrieve some from the nursery and get the kid all cleaned up before bringing him to his 2-year-old Sunday school class. But anyway, the singing went well. I’m quite enjoying this.

After a little downtime and lunch at home, we all went to the zoo together. It was a quick trip. Basically, just the reptiles, the playground, the petting zoo. But that’s one of the reasons we like having memberships at places. We don’t feel like we have to make a day out of it on any given trip to get our money’s worth.

The 2-year-old fell asleep in the car as we were driving the 8-year-old to a playdate. We decided to let him keep sleeping. I spent an hour building one of my daughter’s new birthday Lego sets with her (Wonder Woman — see photo). A little tedious, but I had a beer and that helped. After dinner, I closed out the weekend by playing in the backyard with the kids for a while. It’s finally chilly — feeling like fall! Time to break out the sweaters!

I guess I could add a discussion question to this post. What are you frugal about? What are you not frugal about?


27 thoughts on “Weekend and life updates

  1. I am stupid frugal about wasting food. I hate throwing a party and having a whole bowl of pasta salad left over. Not frugal at airports. Anything that will make travel less horrible- I will pay for it. Obviously, the math on these two things makes no sense.

    1. Me too! Both of those! I am weirdly obsessive about food waste, which does sometimes lead to me eating more of my kids’ leftovers than I need to be eating (leftover carrots—good idea, leftover carbs—not so much). And it was a glorious realization when I stopped cheaping out in the airport and allowing myself the coffee & food I need to make the travel day as pleasant as possible. Not being starving when you are stuck on a runway for over an hour is a plus.

  2. Kudos for your frugality. We’re super frugal with everything possible – as you know – trying to pay down that debt, so we can semi-retire. One example is how I take on the responsibility of doing haircuts for everyone, including myself.

    While you tend to spend money on “discretionary” things like childcare to attend weekend activities, I give you credit for being mindful about it. You realize that you’re trading money for the ability to have a bit more freedom that day. I think a lot of people struggle with finances because they don’t make the connection between efforts to earn money and whether there are any benefits gained from spending it.

  3. I’m frugal enough about time (and money) spent at the hair place to not dye mine at all!
    I love Louise Penny — the series gets better as it goes. I love the focus on the regular cast of characters and their growth and psychology more than solving the mystery, though I do love a good detective story. I just mentioned Louise Penny on your “Books read…” post — Margaret Atwood’s poems are used for Ruth’s!
    Hope the kid sleeping streak continues!

  4. I don’t dye my hair at all, and for many years I had long hair which meant air drying and no hair products. I recently got my hair cut short again, though, so I’ll be back in the salon more often. Not sure yet if that’s a good trade value for time spent at the salon, but we’ll see. I’ve snagged many of the Louise Penny books on Kindle deals but haven’t ready any of them yet. I started The Tresspasser by Tana French as my spooky October read this weekend. I’m liking it so far.

  5. I color my own hair, too, and am pretty sporadic about it. I get a box from the drugstore usually every 3-4 months or so (and yes, the grey definitely grows out in between, but I don’t mind).
    I get it cut about 1-2 times a year, just because I like the variety of longer hair and shorter hair, not for any frugality of time/money.
    I also appreciate how you frame the childcare very objectively as “exchanging $ for sanity”. So many of the discussions around outsourcing women’s work are so fraught with emotion and guilt and judgement. I like the matter of fact approach and the acknowledgement that it is a choice you consciously make.

    1. @Ana- I definitely think childcare is a better place to park cash than many other things, at least for me, right now. My daughter’s birthday party was less expensive than it could have been; paying for childcare helped me actually enjoy it.

    2. I agree! I like the honesty in this phrasing. Money doesn’t buy “happiness,” but it definitely can help get you to sanity/convenience/patience/etc… all very valuable!

  6. I am frugal about packing home-made lunches for the whole family on every week day. I always bake on the weekends too so we have some kind of healthy muffins/cookies to enjoy for a snack, can’t imagine paying $4 for a treat in Starbucks. I also shop at children’s consignment sales for the clothes, books, etc. since our son is little and not very particular about this staff yet.

    I am NOT frugal about cleaning lady’s fees and the use of Airbnb. The cleaning lady does an amazing job, and I currently have her coming every other week, but my goal (if/when I get a raise this year)to invite her every week! I also commute about an hour each way for work, so about two years ago I started using Airbnb once a week to ease out the commute and have one evening a week for myself in a city. My husband agreed to watch our son on that night, and it makes me happy. We have a second baby due this January so now Airbnb is no longer about exploring a city, but rather crushing to sleep and get such needed rest.

    1. That is a genius idea using an Airbnb once a week so you don’t have to make the commute back. It’s like being in a hotel on a weekly basis. I might have to borrow this if my commute ever gets longer (which I highly anticipate it will after my PhD is completed).

    2. @Irene- the treats for snacks is a smart idea. I think the impulse snack purchases are often about getting bored with the food on hand. New treats every week can make eating fun.

      And I am totally into the idea of getting one night per week away from kid bedtime battles and early wake-ups!

  7. Fun questions! I appreciate nice clothes and good style but I am frugal about what I’m willing to pay for that… ThredUp is my go-to now for clothing. But I’m happy pay a top stylist for my quarterly haircuts.

  8. I don’t color my hair at all. I am cheap about most beauty treatments (hair, makeup, etc), although I do get my eyebrows done.

    I spend more than I would like on work clothes, but I work in a field that requires professional, business dress every day. I think this is something often not talked about by professional women as a burden or financial constraint, but I think it is very real! My husband can wear the same few navy/gray suits most days of the week and no one notices or cares, whereas I don’t think this is true for women in my industry (I have read the articles about the women with “capsule wardrobes” for work, and I think they’re interesting. I do try to stick to a neutral palate so I can mix-and-match and wear things more frequently without people noticing, but it’s hard!)

    1. @Stephanie – the professional/business dress issue is an interesting one. I haven’t written about it much because probably 3 out of 5 workdays per week no one cares if I even shower. But it’s certainly something to figure out, and it’s particularly tough in one’s first few jobs. I think there are certain ways one can be economical/efficient about it — a good pair of black trousers, and a black (or navy) pencil skirt can be worn frequently, with the tops going through a longer rotation. I like dresses because it’s a one and done thing.

      1. Agreed! For a slightly different take- I had an interesting conversation with a friend once about figuring out what expenses in a household are “joint” versus the responsibility of one partner (obviously this isn’t in a “one bucket” family where all income goes into the same pot, but in a family where there is some sort of division… also an interesting conversation!). She was trying to make the point that the financial outlay necessary for her to look appropriate for work was higher than is (she also worked in an industry requiring more professional dress and also felt like some beauty treatments were necessary and not optional/just preferences). I thought this was a really interesting point! My partner and I are not “one bucketers” (we have a joint account and then both have separate accounts as well), but I put all clothing/personal care expenses on my own tab. He does the same, but I’m pretty confident I spend more.

        Just interesting!

        1. Interesting! We generally use the joint account for clothing and haircuts. I think we figured out that we are close(ish) on haircuts – he gets a $30-40 haircut every 6 weeks or so, while my haircut/color is around $150 but is only 3-4 times a year.

    2. This is really interesting. While my husband and I both need to do professional dress, I always thought his wardrobe was more expensive because suits are such investments, even if he can wear the same 3 every week.

      Say I want 20 dresses to wear for a month-long outfit rotation. At $200 each that’s $4000, but his three me basic Brooks Brothers suits are $1500 a pop – so $4500 – plus he needs dress shirts and ties, and he’s wearing each suit about 7-8 times a month. (We both need shoes, so we’ll call that a wash.)

      1. @Kathleen – this seems like a fascinating topic – I think I need to explore this. I’ve always more liked the model for men’s clothes – items that may be more expensive but are meant to be worn frequently and last. I’m willing to pay quite a bit for a staple (black trousers, pencil skirt, good jacket) that will last for years but even high-end women’s clothes are often seen as disposable, like the consumer will want a new one next year so why make it well.

  9. I, too, am frugal with my hair color. I had my hair colored professionally prior to kids but then didn’t have time to sit in a salon for 2 + hours. A few years ago with everyone back in school I decided to go the salon route again and I was so frustrated by the fading. WIthin 2 or 3 weeks the gray was back so I have gone back to doing my own.

  10. I color my own hair for two reasons, time and money, in that order. The time spent at the salon makes me fidgety. I have so many things I would rather be doing than sitting at a salon. When I color my hair at home I can tackle a few projects with my hair on top of my head letting the color soak in.
    It would be interesting to calculate how much time you save by coloring your hair at home.
    3:00 to 4:05 is not enough time to get to the salon, get rid of the roots, and be home before the bus!

    1. @Jo- so true. I even get annoyed by how much time it takes to get my hair cut! My stylist has noted that I am not in there nearly as often as some of her other clients, though she did frame it as this making it satisfying to cut my hair (she can actually cut something real off, as opposed to minuscule bits of hair).

  11. Frugal about cars – I drive a 9 year old Jetta and love it. This baby will drive until it dies!

    Not frugal about home renovations, as a staggering $255k over the last 12 months attests. But it’s soooo pretty!

  12. I’m glad you liked Still Life. I’m with you on the conclusion, and I’m not actually that into mysteries as a general rule, either. But I do think Louise Penny does an amazing job with characters and place.

  13. I’m torn about the hair coloring on so many levels. I’d love to just let it go but I’m only 42 and probably 40% grey already 🙁 We have just moved to a town where we’re older than most parents (in comparison to Seattle, where we were right smack in the middle), so I’m sensitive to feeling/looking even older. Also, letting hair just go grey doesn’t seem to be a thing here like it was in Seattle. I’ve also been experimenting with hair color and have streaks of teal mixed in so I’m kind of stuck with salon color for now. But I do hate the time and expense.

    1. @ARC- streaks of teal! Intriguing! I don’t really know if I’m going gray yet – my roots seem to grow in dark. That said, the good thing about the hair coloring being $9/pop and doable in an hour is that I don’t need to wait too long in between rounds of it, so I don’t know that I’d see too much gray in any case!

  14. I’m late to this thread, but I have loved the Louise Penny Gamache series. I need a break in between them, but the character development is wonderful and she does a good job of tying off loose ends in story lines that stay open for multiple books. I’ve also liked learning more about Canada through the series (there’s one book that takes place in a monastery, which was interesting). I like mysteries more than you do (I think), but if you have an inclination, I think it would be worthwhile to read more of the series.

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