Spirit Airlines: A Mom’s Review

If you are traveling with small kids and an equally small budget you’ve probably considered the budget airlines (Frontier, Spirit, etc.) and possibly you have been scared off by the overwhelming number of negative reviews.

I almost was.

But then I looked at my bank account and said oh well, it’s Spirit or nothing.

To prepare myself I started reading the negative reviews on various sites, so I would know what I was in for. As I was reading I noticed a common theme… 90% of the negative reviews were the CUSTOMER’s fault. See I had already read Spirit’s website pretty thoroughly and knew their rules (and that’s just to consider booking with them) and so when I saw people complain about the “hidden” or “surprise” charges I thought…umm no I just saw that in big letters on their site. They don’t lie to you, they are really up front that you are basically paying for the gas to fly the plane and a seat to sit on, anything else you need is on you…or them for a fee.

I felt a little better as I found very few complaints that weren’t preventable on the customer’s part except for delays and let’s be honest delays happen on all airlines. I booked earlier in the day to try and minimize the chance of them but other than that it was out of my control.

My honest review was that Spirit was pretty good and I will definitely fly them again!

I measured my personal item, paid for one checked bag WHEN I bought my ticket, weighed it before the airport and confirmed my carseats and strollers were free. I booked so far in advance, in person at the airport that I was assigned seats together for free. I pre printed our boarding passes and checked in online to avoid fees and of course packed water bottles (empty through security and filled at a fountain) and snacks so I didn’t need to buy them.

I had zero dollars in hidden fees, both flights were EARLY not late, the staff were all very polite and I was pleasantly surprised that unlike many bigger airlines they had changing tables in the onboard bathrooms :).

My gate checked stroller was treated very gently (I could see them unloading from my window!) and my belongs all returned in the same condition I checked them.

I don’t know what more I could ask from an airline, especially one i’m paying so much less than the others for.

If you fly Spirit you MUST do your homework, read and follow their rules but if you do there is no reason you can’t have a nice flight!

[For tips on traveling with children read here.}

1

What’s the Price of Your “Deal”?

I always shop online black friday, I have for years, I save my big ticket electronic items or other common sale types and wait until midnight Thanksgiving when I hop online and buy my carefully researched and price matched selections. Those 15 minutes have saved me hundreds most years.

Not this year.

My husband’s laptop has been terminally ill with a dying harddrive for months so I knew I would be looking for one but I also had a half dozen other items I was pricing to purchase, should they be good deals.

So I did what I always do, sometime in October I started looking at prices, brands, selection, etc. I placed over a dozen items in my Amazon cart and clicked “save for later”. I do this so I can easily compare the prices day by day. I repeated the process with my walmart and target carts and checked a few office store sites as well.

Then I noticed a trend.

In years past the prices either stayed the same or crept down in the weeks surrounding black friday but this year in the month before almost every item in my cart went up. They increased sometimes by as much as $50.

I compared the pre-increase prices to the “black friday deal price” and in almost every instance the “deal” was the same or only 5-10% less than the “list” price had been in October.

I of course didn’t buy any of it, I won’t be tricked by advertising but judging by the swarms of people shopping and flooding websites alot of people were.

I know some people who go black friday shopping just because they think its fun (seriously?) but most do it for the “deals” and with the exception of a handful of “doorbusters” at each store the deals were…not deals. They were illusions created by jacking the prices up in anticipation of the “sale” then slashing them so you can hang shiny signs 30% Off!, 40% Off!, Buy Me Now!

The prices are always increased in anticipation of these sales but this is the first year that I noticed so many items where the “deal” was still equal to the original sticker price, usually the tactic is used to make it seem you are getting a bigger deal than you are but this year it was often used to make it seem like you were getting a deal at all.

I know this will fall on deaf ears but in case you really do strive to live the frugal life like me I implore you to make any purchase decision an informed one, check prices and not just the day or week you want it, check it for a few weeks, be weary of advertising and the faux “demand” created by pushy, buy me now, “deals won’t last” sales.

heres-what-not-to-buy-on-black-friday-7-horrific-black-friday-horror-stories-like-something-from-the-purge

DIY Halloween Costume – $5

How to costume posts aren’t very helpful after Halloween if you ask me. I always forget them by the next year. So here is a quick DIY post based on Jidge’s costume last year.

He wanted to be Woody, which was great except he was also going through a phase where many clothing items were deemed uncomfortable, and therefore unwearable, within minutes of putting them on. I was NOT willing to pay 20+ dollars for a cheap looking costume that he might refuse to wear. Plus I hate wasting money on something I think I can do.

I bought a cow print vest and brown cowboy hat at the dollar tree and already had a red bandana and play badge laying around (but those are only about a buck also).

I found a white button down of his that had a few stains anyway and bought a 3 dollar bottle of yellow RIT dye.

With the shirt dyed yellow I took out my red sharpie and a ruler and set to work on the lines.

The whole costume cost me $5 and took about half hour of work (not counting the time I just left the shirt sitting in dye).

The finished product? Cuter than the store ones if you ask me and most importantly more comfortable, he wore this costume for fun months after Halloween ended.

1385062_595378880120_1171076444_n1403130_595948089420_2141676940_o

A Time Saver and A Life Saver

Two little tips and tricks that I love:

First, a time saver. I’m sure i’m not the only one who hates chopping onions but finds herself needing chopped onion multiple times each week..sometimes in the middle of cooking when I realize I need a little more flavor. So a few months ago, fed up with this constant dilemma and the time constraints of two children I started buying frozen chopped onion. I quickly realized you don’t really lose much flavor wise which is nice but you do lose money! Onions are cheap, frozen chopped ones are not.

So I decided to make my own.   I bought a bag of onions and set out to chop them. Thankfully my husband knows I stink at chopping vegetables and stepped in. 15 minutes later I had a large mixing bowl full of fresh, fragrant chopped onion.

DSC00884

Next, I took a 1/2 cup measuring cup and a stack of “snack size” ziplocks (which incidentally hold almost precisely one half cup) and divided the onion up for freezing.  My 5 onions yielded 7 cups (14 half cup bags).

 

DSC00885

Finally, I froze them. Next time I will place the snack size bags inside a gallon bag because I could still smell them when I opened the freezer for a day or so.

DSC00886

 

Now when a recipe calls for onion, or I just feel like throwing some in, I can do it quickly and without a mess or fuss :).

 

That is my time saver, but I also wanted to share a life saver.

So, my husband drinks hot tea everyday, usually multiple times so his mugs are A. really important and B. get alot of use.

None of this was a problem until recently though. When we moved into our new house something changed, I don’t know if it’s just because our water composition changed or what but suddenly there were stains building up inside EVERY SINGLE MUG. Alot of these are sentimental so throwing them out was a last resort only but no amount of soap, scrubbing or dishwasher seemed to help.

These mugs were scrubbed, with dawn and a dish scrub brush by hand, then they were run through the hot cycle on the dishwasher and they came out still looking like this. I was so annoyed. We’ve been cleaning these things for YEARS and suddenly they just can not be cleaned. It just didn’t make sense.  Plus it was really gross, look.

DSC00740

 

Enter my friend baking soda. Why? Because I’m half convinced baking soda is left over dust from the manna

God sent the Israelites left here on Earth to save me from daily insanity.

DSC00741

I made a little paste with water and used my hand to rub it around inside the mugs.

It was clear that something was happening since the paste immediately began to turn brown.

DSC00742

 

A minute or two of scrubbing gently with my hand and baking soda and….

CLEAN.

I had scrubbed this thing for weeks using the dishwasher, soap and tears only to apologize repeatedly to my poor husband

for making him drink out of an increasingly disturbing looking set of mugs and now. VOILA! Cured!

Thank you manna from heaven baking soda! You are a life saver.

DSC00752

$20 Livingroom Upgrade

Our livingroom needed some finishing touches to pull it together, now that we’ve lived here a while I had some ideas about what to do but I also had some budget constraints…like $20.

How could I use $20 to create a coffee table centerpiece, update ugly lamps and fill a very large bare space on our wall?

Step 1 Lamp Revitalization:

So when we moved in the previous owner had left behind a couple lamps.. they were a little dated and the shades were dingy and age worn but I hate throwing things out that work so I set them aside to figure out how to update them a bit.

What could I use for $3 to fix up these lamps?

Two colors of acrylic paint at 1.50 each and a few minutes and voila, they match my decor!

 

Lamp 1:  this picture makes it look fairly white but in reality it was dingy and had lots of little brown age spots on it.

2014-07-23 14.29.162014-07-23 15.04.3712014-07-23 17.17.06

 

#2 was in good shape except this ugly beige trim that always looks dirty

2014-07-23 16.46.132014-07-23 16.54.50

2014-07-23 17.17.412014-07-23 17.17.21

 

Step 2: Empty Wall Space

Next, I needed to tackle this large bare space on one of our walls. If I had money to spend there would be endless options to fill this space but when I was working with $17 it gets a little harder. I had seen mirror grids done before so I headed to the dollar tree where I found these cute 9×12 mirrors and dollar mounting pads. (Note I attempted to use the good mounting tape from Pat Catan and it didn’t hold! The cheap 24 pack of mounting pads at the dollar tree held instantly and securely!)

I bought 9 mirrors, 2 packs of mounting pads and a decorative wall verse for a total of $12 and set to work.

12014-07-23 14.26.19

 

Step 3: Table Centerpiece

Finally, I still had $5 and I need a coffee table centerpiece… I had a pretty metal candle holder I like but it wasn’t enough by itself so while I was at the dollar tree I picked up a mirror like the ones for the wall, two squared glass candle holders, a bag of pebbles and a 4 pack of candles for a total of $5. Using my existing candle holder as the focus I placed this on my coffee table as the centerpiece.

12014-07-23 17.50.38

 

 

Needs vs Wants

We are turning off our cable. It’s just too expensive to justify on one income with a budget to tight for savings so we have made the choice it has to go.

Why? Why not keep it and use credit cards (which we paid off in anticipation of one income) if something unexpected comes up? Or use our emergency savings?

Because it is a want, not a need so it can not stand in the way of needs (like responsibly budgeting and saving).You should never put yourself in precarious financial situations over wants. My generation (i’m 27) seems to believe we are entitled to every comfort. That they are necessary. They aren’t.

You do not need or deserve cable or a smartphone or internet or brand name food or a gym membership. You are not owed anything from anyone.

The sooner you recognize this the sooner you can develop a healthy relationship with money.

I literally cringe when I hear someone complain about being broke while they drink starbucks, smoke a cigarette, eat in a restaurant, go to the gym or watch their cable tv. If you do not have money then you do not need to buy these things. Stop buying the lies.

Stop letting them convince you that it’s ok or normal to have credit card debt. (Or student loan debt which is another story for another post).

I’m canceling the cable and you know what, i’m not that sad. We’ll still watch some stuff online sometimes or check out movies from the library but honestly it was costing me more than money anyway. I will be glad to have the time and the money back and I will feel peace of mind knowing that our budget won’t be as tight each month.

Do you have an area of your life you probably should cut but just can’t quite commit too?
02_TV_Money

5 Dollars, 50 Minutes & a Free Picnic Table

When we moved in the previous owner had left behind this beauty of a picnic table (and bench)

2014-06-14 19.38.35

 

It may not be a looker but it was free and I rarely turn down free so I decided to rehab this table a bit.

The weathered wood was literally a splinter farm, the entire surface was rough and pokey so

Step  1: Dollar Tree pack of sanding paper. Yep, we don’t own a sander and I can’t afford to buy unnecessary items right now but I knew they had sandpaper at the dollar tree so I brought a pack home and used a whole lot of elbow grease to sand it smooth.

 

Step 2: Scrub the areas that had greenish algae build up.

 

Step 3: Leave to dry

 

Step 4: Stain

I picked up the stain from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet which meant the stain and application brush were $3.99

 

Now for five dollars and just under and hour of my life I have this much more presentable (and less painful!) splinter free picnic table.

2004-12-31 20.28.29