Frugal Hacks To Live An Awesome Life

Yep, that’s yours truly in the feature image using frugality to hack a damn good time. We love a dash of horror in our lives, so every fall we don’t miss a chance to hit our local haunted attraction. This is a planned event and since Mini is, well, Mini, we don’t bother with the actual hayride or haunted houses. Instead, we go for a Friday night dinner. We take $20 and load up on pizza, hot dogs, funnel cake, and hot chocolate. Yum! This place is a top-tier attraction so they have actors roaming the grounds, a nice picnic table area for resting and eating, live bands, and goofy stuff to do like the guillotine – for FREE! Makes for a great photo op, right? It’s planned, it’s inexpensive (I don’t like the word cheap), it’s fun, and we get to make some memories and snap some pictures. But this isn’t our only frugal hack for living an awesome life on less. Read on my frugal friends.

Entertainment

winter hike

Hiking – Free!

We’re lucky enough to have access to Facebook (my guess is that you might be just as lucky) and have Liked our local news sources. Because of this extraordinary luck, I get a weekly post in my news feed that tells me all about the awesome local stuff going on around town – for FREE. Yes, the title is actually something like, Top 10 Free Events Happening in Lancaster This Weekend. You better believe we check it out and scour the links for something interesting and entertaining. Coming up soon is the Fire & Ice event. There are free activities for everyone, a chili contest, and you guessed it, gorgeous ice sculptures all around an amazing park that is beautifully decorated and lit up at night. It truly is an event/tradition not to be missed – for FREE.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg, pun intended! There is a local winery that sits high atop a winding river that offers live, free music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Yes, you have to pay for a glass of wine, but it’s an inexpensive date that gets us out of the house during the doldrums of winter. I could go on and on but you get the idea. There are free things all around you if you’re willing to open your eyes and look for them.

Related: Cats, Beer, & Zombies

Food

How do we hack frugal eats? We obviously keep our grocery bill as low as possible, and actually order our groceries online and have them delivered for ultimate savings. Strange but true. Read all about it here. For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on dining out. First, we dine out only on special occasions or when it’s planned; in other words, we plan our dining out when their is a special occasion. Clear as mud? Okay, let’s move on.

Hump Day 3

Cheers!

When we decide to go to a restaurant, we put a cap on what we’re willing to spend, including the tip.

Side Note: We always tip 20% or more because, in our opinions, if you can’t afford to leave a good tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat. We also don’t penalize any server for bad service. Why? Because we’re not stupid enough to think that our server isn’t a person with their own problems. Life happens and we have no idea what sort of issues they’re struggling to handle at the moment. Sorry for that rant, but I feel it’s important to recognize people in the service industry 🙂 Back to how we hack frugal eats…

We share almost everything. We don’t order two appetizers, we don’t order two drinks, nor do we order two BIG meals. Typically, we order one appetizer or don’t get one at all. This is all dependent on the category of celebration. If we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, we will share an appetizer or skip it altogether. If we just paid off our house, we’re getting the appetizer, maybe two! At least, that’s what I imagine, I’ll have to let you know in a few years.

We usually skip the alcohol because of the cash and the calories. If we do feel like indulging, we’ll share a drink. We definitely don’t tell our server we’re two cheapskates planning to split a single beer. Ha!

Time for our meals! We try to be reasonable when ordering. Of course the surf and turf is preferable, but it’s excessive. Usually, a crab cake sandwich or burger will do. However, if we’re really craving something a bit pricey, one person will order a pricey dish and the other WILL NOT. Then we split it and everyone is happy. Desserts are tricky. I could easily forego dessert for the rest of my life. Mr. MMM, on the other hand, has a sweet tooth the size of the Mississippi. In fact, he enjoys it so much that it’s almost non-negotiable. Of course we split dessert, and I let him have most of it. Occasionally, I can convince him to wait until we get home because we usually have a freezer stocked with Ben & Jerry’s. No Joke. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

fast food 2

Mini with a burger!

Here’s a fast glimpse into our fast food excursions. First, they’re few and far in between. They’re usually not planned as extensively as restaurant meals. I used to see these as extreme frugal fails, but I grew up and realized that a $1 cheeseburger here and there isn’t going to interfere with our FIRE plan. Mini sometimes gets on a kick that she wants a happy meal. It’s hard to deny her this. I mean, aren’t occasional happy meals a right of childhood passage? I believe so. Thankfully, she has gotten a bit older and has realized that the toys in those happy meals are pretty much crap. These days, I can usually convince her to just order a burger and fries off the dollar menu. Score.

Related: Eating Out…My Biggest Financial Downfall

Relationships

fire

Campfires – FREE!

Whether it’s being a good wife, mother, daughter, or friend, it’s always a good idea to nurture your relationships, often. We also don’t spend much in this category. We look for free events and activities. We hike. We bike. We love spending time together at home. We watch movies and critique them afterwards. We play board games. We invite friends over to our house and have conversations. It’s not a novel idea, but we often forget this is a possibility in our fast-paced world of flashy cars and expensive bar tabs.

We do go on vacations, but we pay cash. I’m a firm believer that vacations are one of the best sources of family memories. In my opinion, family vacations are a big part of your childhood memories after you leave the nest. Vacations are one area where we do loosen our frugal belts and allow ourselves some luxuries. These are the memories we want to make with each other. Read all about the not-so-frugal Disney vacation we embarked on last summer here.

So, that’s it. Those are a few of our frugal hacks to live an awesome life. What do you do? Can you add to our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

ember

Mad Money Cat has an awesome life.

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44 comments… add one
  • David Domzalski Feb 10, 2017, 12:05 pm

    Love these ideas guys. For Valentine’s Day weekend, we are trading off date nights with another couple with kids. They will watch our son tonight and we’ll watch their 2 boys tomorrow. That way we save on babysitting. Our “night out” will be grabbing a pizza and heading back home for a few hours to watch a movie. Talk about frugal! But, hey, we get some much-needed time by ourselves and our son is safe and playing with his two friends at their house. Everyone wins!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll be retweeting this one for sure!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 10, 2017, 12:30 pm

      Thanks for the retweet! I think that sounds like an awesome frugal idea! I think your plans sound perfect. I get just as much enjoyment out of grabbing a pizza as I do when we drop big money in a fancy joint. Have fun!

  • David Domzalski Feb 10, 2017, 12:05 pm

    Love these ideas guys. For Valentine’s Day weekend, we are trading off date nights with another couple with kids. They will watch our son tonight and we’ll watch their 2 boys tomorrow. That way we save on babysitting. Our “night out” will be grabbing a pizza and heading back home for a few hours to watch a movie. Talk about frugal! But, hey, we get some much-needed time by ourselves and our son is safe and playing with his two friends at their house. Everyone wins!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll be retweeting this one for sure!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 10, 2017, 12:30 pm

      Thanks for the retweet! I think that sounds like an awesome frugal idea! I think your plans sound perfect. I get just as much enjoyment out of grabbing a pizza as I do when we drop big money in a fancy joint. Have fun!

  • Claudia @ Two Cup House Jan 29, 2017, 10:01 am

    We’re going to Fire & Ice, too. See you there? 🙂

    Love those free music days. Grandview in MJ has some great acts and events year round.

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 29, 2017, 10:55 am

      Yes! Hope to see you there. 🙂 We’ve been to Grandview a few times. Love it there, too.

  • Claudia @ Two Cup House Jan 29, 2017, 10:01 am

    We’re going to Fire & Ice, too. See you there? 🙂

    Love those free music days. Grandview in MJ has some great acts and events year round.

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 29, 2017, 10:55 am

      Yes! Hope to see you there. 🙂 We’ve been to Grandview a few times. Love it there, too.

  • Mr. Groovy Jan 27, 2017, 4:21 pm

    Hey, Mrs. MMM. Love the hacks, especially the restaurant ones. Mrs. Groovy and I limit ourselves to one split appetizer, one drink each, and, on occasion, one split dessert. It’s amazing how quickly a meal can get out of hand if you go nuts on the drinks. My parents recently went out with a group of their friends and one couple spent $140 just on booze. Ouch!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 28, 2017, 7:20 am

      Holy crap! $140 just on the drinks?! That would immediately put me in a funk for the entirety of the dining experience. It’s always a good idea to have a drink before leaving the house, too 🙂

  • Mr. Groovy Jan 27, 2017, 4:21 pm

    Hey, Mrs. MMM. Love the hacks, especially the restaurant ones. Mrs. Groovy and I limit ourselves to one split appetizer, one drink each, and, on occasion, one split dessert. It’s amazing how quickly a meal can get out of hand if you go nuts on the drinks. My parents recently went out with a group of their friends and one couple spent $140 just on booze. Ouch!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 28, 2017, 7:20 am

      Holy crap! $140 just on the drinks?! That would immediately put me in a funk for the entirety of the dining experience. It’s always a good idea to have a drink before leaving the house, too 🙂

  • Smart Provisions Jan 26, 2017, 9:39 pm

    Great hacks, MMM.

    I like to take walks with my family and friends and just talk. It’s cheap and free and I get to learn more about the person!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 27, 2017, 9:43 am

      Exactly! I love conversations. I tell Mini that talking is how big people have fun 🙂

  • Smart Provisions Jan 26, 2017, 9:39 pm

    Great hacks, MMM.

    I like to take walks with my family and friends and just talk. It’s cheap and free and I get to learn more about the person!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 27, 2017, 9:43 am

      Exactly! I love conversations. I tell Mini that talking is how big people have fun 🙂

  • Just Us Jan 26, 2017, 11:58 am

    We enjoy frugal dates like reading to each other, foot massage night, what’s-the-oldest-movie-you-still-have night, board games, embarrassing old photo night, Weed-Out-that-Closet nights! We play invented games, too – one evening’s topic might be “What would you do if you surprise-inherited $10,000?” or “If you could travel anywhere for free, where would it be and why?”

    These “homemade games” are natural conversation starters! And sharing your dreams, however silly they may seem, is a wonderful benefit for relationships.

    Goals are simply dreams that put on their work boots! 😉

    I love your posts and how you think…

    (Thanks so much for sharing a peek into your home every few days!)

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 26, 2017, 12:58 pm

      That is so cool! Thank you for all the tips! We are definitely going to borrow some of these 🙂

  • Just Us Jan 26, 2017, 11:58 am

    We enjoy frugal dates like reading to each other, foot massage night, what’s-the-oldest-movie-you-still-have night, board games, embarrassing old photo night, Weed-Out-that-Closet nights! We play invented games, too – one evening’s topic might be “What would you do if you surprise-inherited $10,000?” or “If you could travel anywhere for free, where would it be and why?”

    These “homemade games” are natural conversation starters! And sharing your dreams, however silly they may seem, is a wonderful benefit for relationships.

    Goals are simply dreams that put on their work boots! 😉

    I love your posts and how you think…

    (Thanks so much for sharing a peek into your home every few days!)

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 26, 2017, 12:58 pm

      That is so cool! Thank you for all the tips! We are definitely going to borrow some of these 🙂

  • Get Rich Quick'ish Jan 26, 2017, 11:25 am

    This is great. Barring disaster, life is only expensive if you make it so. Fun can be free, or very affordable. You don’t need a pinterest perfect vacation/home/car/lifestyle to have fun and be happy. Thanks for the tips and the reminder. BTW I love your tip rule!

  • Get Rich Quick'ish Jan 26, 2017, 11:25 am

    This is great. Barring disaster, life is only expensive if you make it so. Fun can be free, or very affordable. You don’t need a pinterest perfect vacation/home/car/lifestyle to have fun and be happy. Thanks for the tips and the reminder. BTW I love your tip rule!

  • Ernie Jan 26, 2017, 8:02 am

    I always try to keep my eyes open for opportunities that offer fun at a reduced rate. Just last night our church had a kid’s night at a local fun center where there’s an arcade, climbing wall, go-karts, mini bowling, bumper cars, etc. Usually a night like this would cost me $75+ for just my three boys, but because it was with the church it only cost $5 per kid!! So my boys had a BLAST for only $15. Now let’s just hope they can wait another year to go back 😉

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 26, 2017, 8:07 am

      That’s awesome! I love finding little hacks like this for entertainment. Waiting a year to do it again will make it even more special 🙂

  • Ernie Jan 26, 2017, 8:02 am

    I always try to keep my eyes open for opportunities that offer fun at a reduced rate. Just last night our church had a kid’s night at a local fun center where there’s an arcade, climbing wall, go-karts, mini bowling, bumper cars, etc. Usually a night like this would cost me $75+ for just my three boys, but because it was with the church it only cost $5 per kid!! So my boys had a BLAST for only $15. Now let’s just hope they can wait another year to go back 😉

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 26, 2017, 8:07 am

      That’s awesome! I love finding little hacks like this for entertainment. Waiting a year to do it again will make it even more special 🙂

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