The $10,000 Auto Decal

When your child is accepted to college and sends back a “Yes” reply, the school starts sending you all sorts of stuff, including a free car decal.

Minimalists should always be wary of accepting free items, but I have kept two of these free stickers.

These two stickers represent $18,000. That's more than the car cost new.

These two stickers represent $19,000. That’s more than the car cost new.

Here is how they came to cost me so much. In the state of Illinois, there is case law, whereby children have sued their divorced parents to pay for college. And the court ordered it so. Four years at a state school with each entity (mother, father, child) paying one third of the costs. Aware of these rulings, the kid’s dad and I voluntarily entered into such an agreement, saving our kids suing us and the legal fees.

Plus, I want to help them pay for college.

As you can see by the auto stickers, neither student is attending a state school (average cost per year $32,000.) They are attending private liberal arts colleges (average cost per year $61,000.) They are responsible for the difference. Fortunately, they are both naturally intelligent and hard-working and have earned significant scholarships to attend school. Middle son, is on track to graduate without debt, beloved daughter will have some.

Beware free stuff.

Frugal Vacation

At the sculpture garden

At the sculpture garden

We recently returned from a six day trip to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Chattanooga Tennessee, an eight hour drive from here.

Total cost of the trip: $327.48

Breakdown:

Gasoline: $102.22

Restaurant Food: $133.83 This was spent on the two travel days. While in Chattanooga, we ate all meals at my son and DIL’s home. I cooked dinner as they had to work during the day.

Grocery Store Food:$36.63 This does not include what son and DIL provided. I was merely refilling their pantry, as when we come to visit, it is a bit like locusts descending on your kitchen.

Entertainment: $54.80

In the past, when we have visited Chattanooga, we have mixed expensive entertainments like spelunking and white-water rafting with less expensive hiking and picnicking. This trip, we focused on the less expensive activities. Here are a few of the things we did and what they cost.

Walk around downtown, and across the pedestrian bridge. My son treated us to ice cream and icy drinks. $0

Bike rental for one day: $24

Lookouts baseball game: $0 (My son, who is a college baseball coach, got these as a favor from another coach.)

Nature Park hike and picnic: $0

Sculpture garden: $0

Hunter Art Museum: $34.80

Teenage squabbling was kept to a minimum and we had a great visit!

Frugal Beauty Routine

Funny, when I was younger, and actually kinda cute, I spent way more money on beauty products than I do now. Oh, the irony.

Here’s what I do now:

Easy to pack too!

Easy to pack too!

The soap is handmade with olive oil. There are cheaper soaps, but my skin doesn’t like them. I use the “no poo” method for curly hair where you “wash” your hair with conditioner.

A little bit of foundation with SPF 15 and mascara. That’s it. The small, unlabeled bottle has olive oil in it, which I rub into my face before bed and remove with a steaming washcloth. That process completely eliminated the breakouts I was getting.

It’s simple. It’s inexpensive. I don’t look like a supermodel, but I look just fine for my age.