Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Small goal progress - update #2

Given that we weren't sure what 2017 would hold at the beginning of the year, I decided to create a series of smaller goals to help me stay focused. (You can also see my first update on the small goals here.)

We ended up tackling some huge projects in 2017, but I still like the idea of having smaller goals, to fill in the gaps as we work to tackle the big ones. :-)

Here's what I came up with at the beginning of the year.

  • A toiletry challenge! I consider toiletries any of the following: makeup, anything dental related, any product you'd use in the shower and/or to clean your face. I currently have $75 of Rite Aid plenti points, and I'm hoping to make these last for at least six months. Even better if I can make them last for all of 2017 by "rolling" the points. This may be tricky, as rolling your points means generating new points off of purchases made with points. It would take just the right combination of point offers & needs for this to work well. I'll be doing an inventory of our toiletries in the next few weeks, so I can see where we stand & determine what I need to look out for on sale. I've already raided my gym makeup bag when I ran out of eyeliner, because it's the rare day that I work out in the morning before I've showered at home. Using up what I have in various bags (travel, gym) may be my first way to reduce spending. - I'm still doing well with this! I have $34.95 left, and no immediate needs. In fact, I used my plenti points to buy the boys Valentine's Day cards, and Nick also bought a pack of Magic cards for himself & gave me $10 cash for the points. The only thing I really need at this point is more face lotion. I ran out, and I've been using sunblock as my only face lotion. I prefer a thinner lotion against my skin, with the sunblock over it. If I see a good deal at Rite Aid on my preferred brand (Olay), I will likely pick some up. 
  • Tracking all of our clothing purchases. I did this with our groceries in 2016 & it was both fun (sometimes tedious), but also really helpful when it came to understanding patterns, areas to stock up on, and where to cut back. We have a reduced clothing budget this year, so I'm hoping this helps. - Yes, and I just wrote a post on this. We're doing great with our shopping. The boys soccer uniforms threw us for a bit of a loop, but other than that, things are right on track & we are only buying critical needs. So far, we've spent $437 out of the intended budget of $750. 
  • Every month, look for one permanent way to cut costs. It's totally fine (and, likely) that these will be small cuts that will add up over time. This may be finding a ziplock alternative for one of our common usages (school lunches), reducing our water needs by building rain storage, etc. 
    • January - I used (free) newspaper to clean our mirrors. I had no idea about this trick, but it's awesome!
    • February - yes, I replaced two errand trips with walking/biking, and continued that back & forth to the new house. I need to get back to replacing the errands with walking. Our new house is a bit further. 
    • March - n/a - we missed this month, as we were moving. That said, I did find entirely free moving & packing materials, so I'll count this as my one frugal move, even though it's not permanent. Mostly because I'm hoping not to move again until the boys are out of college! :-)
  • Come up with two date night suggestions that don't involve an expensive meal out. - I managed one of these. M & I utilized a free Valentine's Day sitter option, and made dinner at home while checking out paint options for the new house. We still need to figure out the second option. 
  • Maximize my travel hacking. I'm not sure what 2017 will involve for work travel, but there are lots of opportunities to use points & credits for their best value & by keeping track of all of our rewards, it helps to ensure I'm using them well.  - I was able to use my flight credits to save $1500 (I gave my parents $500 as a thank you, as they are taking our kids to Disneyland & covered all of the flights using their miles). As a result, I've kept our flight costs way down this year. I've also been keeping an eye on price changes, and filing requests for lower fares. I still have two flights to book for the remainder of the year, as well as a hotel for our adult Hawaii trip. Other than that, I think we're good! I'm saving lots of hotel points & airline points for future adventures. 
    • We've spent $1091.12 so far this year for all of our travel through the end of 2017. This includes flights to the beach for the summer, flights for the holidays to Portland, flights for myself & M to Hawaii, and a flight for me for a girls trip coming up in April.
    • We have the following points/miles for future travel. I track these like cash, as they are an important asset to track & measure when booking travel. It's not always best to use points - sometimes it's best to use a combination of points & cash, pay cash & save the points for a better deal, etc:
      • 52,000 points at Starwood
      • 81,000 points for Alaska Airlines (our preferred airline)
      • 80,000 points (split among M & the kids) for Alaska Airlines
      • 17,000 points on United (work travel, so sometimes use this to upgrade to business)
      • 197,000 points for the Marriott. Will likely turn this into a Hawaii trip with the kids in 2018
  • Make $100 selling things on Facebook. - I crushed this goal by selling a few necklaces (Tiffany - they apparently hold their value extremely well). I also sold a variety of smaller items, but none of them were worth much. Lots of $10 & $15 at a time. I've made a total of $880 so far this year, and would like to now get to $1000. 

What about you? Did you have any small goals you were tracking in 2017? How are you doing against the goals you set out to achieve? 


  1. I think free packing material is a total frugal win for March, even if it is not permanent it was absolutely a necessary item. I agree, points are like money and should be managed as such. I have all our point programs on an excel spreadsheet which includes expiration dates. Nothing worse than points expiring that could have been used or donated. We don't get the international points like you but from our credit card points I am hoping to get 2 free tickets to Italy for Spring of 2018 when we are taking my Stepson with us. We have one and a half saved already, ended up paying for our tickets in full to Greece rather than using the one free ticket as it wasn't that advantageous and I got a great deal on them anyway. If you sell items that are just taking up space in your home and make money be sure it goes to something fun! That fact alone keeps me on track - ours is going to our Ucluelet/Tofino adventure in August :)

    1. I too manage all of our points in a spreadsheet. I often compare using them for travel vs paying out right. It has to be just the right offer for it to make sense to use the points.

      I actually used my work miles to upgrade to business on a recent work trip. So, theoretically paid for it myself, but it was so worth it. I'll see if I can get work to cover the upgrade next time. :-)

  2. The Marriott points, your best deal for these might be to try and do a 7 night Marriott travel package which gives you 7 nights at a hotel plus miles to be transferred to the airline of your choice. Remember if you don't have enough Marriott points you can rollover some Starwood points at a conversion rate of 1 SPG = 3 Marriott.

    1. I will definitely be looking at the Marriott travel package. Thanks for the recommendation! We will likely roll the points the other way. Our preferred Hawaii hotel with the kids is a Starwood (it has a kitchen), so we've been using points in the past to cover it. I earn the Marriott points on work trips and have platinum status, so the benefits & points really start to grow.