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Frugal Accomplishments for the First Week of 2018

Lemon Branches and Lemons The Prudent Homemaker

I worked pruning, weeding, and tidying the garden. 

I cut branches from the garden to enjoy inside.

I picked more Meyer lemons from our trees.

I dug and transplanted several new "bushes" from one place in the garden to another where I am starting a hedge. These only have one rooted stem, but it is well rooted and they should do well in their new place. After they have been growing in their new spot for a while, I will cut the single branch on each to force them to send forth new branches. It will take about 5 years for them to grow into a hedge.

I sowed seeds for larkspur, poppies, bells of Ireland, and lettuce in the garden.

I resisted the temptation to buy more flower seeds online. I put everything in my cart, looked at the total, decided it wasn't in the budget, and closed the browser. I have plenty of seeds to plant already.

I downloaded and read five e-books from the library.

I purchased the vitamins I had on my list at Target on sale, plus used an additional 5% off Cartwheel discount to get the price lower. I brought my own bags for $0.05 off my total per bag.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Sam's Club gift card. I'll use this towards my grocery purchases this month.

My husband and I used the last two movie passes we received for Christmas of 2016 to go on a date.

A neighbor threw out a men's bicycle in great condition. It was missing only a few bolts (it was in pieces). We rescued it from the trash. We will either use it (after getting new bolts) or use the pieces on our existing bicycles. (The sun disintegrates seats here, so a new seat is always welcome!)

My husband repaired our side gate.

My son replaced a broken valve connector in the garden.

I collected warm-up water from the shower and used it to water our potted plants.

We enjoyed tomatoes from the garden. The green ones I picked in December have been ripening, and they are wonderful! 


What did you do to save money this past week?


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  • SJ in Vancouver BC January 09, 2018

    I, too, was retired earlier then planned due to some health issues. For those in the Vancouver BC area, there is a nonprofit grocery store called the Quest Food Exchange. Clients have to be referred there. The referral process is very easy.
    The store is a retail store front and operates like a 'day old' bread outlet in the US. They are a mini grocery store, however, with meat, dairy, produce, and other selections. The prices are very low - like $0.10 per loaf of bread. There are 5 locations in the greater Vancouver Area.
    Perhaps the Toronto area has something similar. I found it through a local senior services agency.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood January 09, 2018

    The Quest Food Exchange sounds great! Unfortunately, there isn't anything like that in Toronto. I used to work with low-income seniors in the non-profit sector, and am still pretty plugged in. The closest thing would be if you lived in an apartment building that received services from a non-profit that had partnered with Second Harvest (random free groceries). One alternative, for those who are spry enough, is to volunteer with notfarfromthetree.org; they collect fruit (usually apples and various berries) from homeowners in Toronto during the summer and fall. One third collected goes to the homeowner, one third goes to the pickers, and one third is donated to non-profit partners (such as low-income seniors apartment buildings associated with non-profits ). One more option would be to join a seniors centre hot meal program for a combination of meal out/low cost meal; depending on program and location, they can be nice.

    By the way, anyone who is struggling and wants information on social services available to seniors living in Toronto is welcome to contact me by email and i'd be happy to point them in the direction of applicable services. That said, the commenters here all strike me as quite aware of resources and probably aren't the target demographic of the agencies. But if anyone does need help, please do feel free to contact me!

  • Margie from Toronto January 09, 2018

    Thanks for the info - I'm checking out all these sorts of things in case of future need!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada January 09, 2018

    SJ, wow, I wish we had a Quest Food Exchange, here! What a great idea! Margie, I am relieved to read your budgeting. I average about $180-200 per month. I thought I was being extravagant (although it feels like just making it) when I read your $60 for the month.

    One thing I like to do is to slather about half a tablespoon of plain yogourt on my face and neck. After about 15 minutes, all of the liquid is absorbed into the skin and wrinkles disappear. I'm not sure how good it is to do this and some people may find their skin is too sensitive to do this. It beats buying face cream (although I may start doing that, too).

    It has become cold here again (but not as cold as -40º) and there will be more snow. Shovelling is becoming my favourite form of exercise. Margie, you are right, in that money is very tight for me. I wasn't forced into early retirement but am facing a cash-poor retirement.

    Yesterday, I went shopping for eyeglasses. I was in shock about the price for some of lenses at some stores. I do have insurance but hope to get progressive lenses and frames that will cost no more or not much more than the insurance. Any suggestions, Canadians, eh?

  • SJ in Vancouver BC Canada January 10, 2018

    I buy my glasses and lenses from LensCrafters. Not the cheapest by any means but the mid-price frames I buy last. They always do a nice job on the lenses.
    One way I save money is to not buy new frames with every prescription. I reuse the frames and have them make the new lenses from the new prescription. I usually have to talk them out of their sales pitch for new frames but they've always used the old frames eventually.
    I went to Costco a few years ago because they were the cheapest price. While the lenses were fine, the frames were bent after about 9 months. I'm in my 60s now and am not hard on my glasses. Perhaps I just had a bad experience with Costco but I never went back.
    I haven't tried any on-line providers. Good luck.

  • I don't know if Zenni Optical ships to Canada, but I have been very happy with them. I have bought a full pair of glasses (frames and lenses) for $12.95. My frames have lasted me many years. I've bought them for my children as well.

  • I January 10, 2018

    Yes Zenni does ship to Canada as my husband has ordered glasses very cheaply from them and been very satisfied.

  • momsav January 10, 2018

    I’ve bought four pairs through Zenni; love them!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada January 10, 2018

    Brandy and I,

    Do you have single lenses or progressives? I have progressives so I am a little wary of ordering from Zenni or other online. Pearle Vision seems to have the best deal not online. 40% off the lenses or 2 for 1 pair at regular price of one. I've never dealt with Pearle so am not sure. It's hard to judge how good the lenses are since they are made especially for Pearle.

  • Margie from Toronto January 10, 2018

    I wear progressives - and yes they are expensive! I've always bought my frames from my optometrist as he doesn't mark up - I pay cost even for designer frames. I was shocked to hear what friends were paying for glasses when I knew their prescriptions were nothing like mine - turns out they were paying hundreds of dollars for their designer frames - which are just a few pieces of plastic! I do still have additional benefits from where I worked (still figuring out if it's worth it or not) but that will cover barely half the cost. I will need new glasses later this year and this time I think I am going to recycle some old frames (which I like and are in good shape) so that will save a few dollars. It's a juggling act!

  • Nancy January 08, 2018

    This past week we were inundated with record-breaking -40C wind chill weather and are now dealing with 30 cm of snow so far today! So, we just decided (because we can as we are retired) to stay inside.
    This week we didn't go to the store at all. In fact, for the past few weeks we have been eating down our freezer storage. Run out of milk? Use the powdered milk. Running out of eggs? Use the last one to make muffins for breakfast because we are also running out of bread. Made sure those muffins included chocolate chips so my husband would eat them:D
    Renewed our library books online so we didn't have to drive out to the library.
    My husband just used our snow blower to clean the driveway out of our newest neighbours....not very frugal but very neighbourly. The wife is pregnant with her second child and was very thankful as her husband hadn't gotten home from work yet and she was really unable to do it herself.
    Phoned our service provider for our internet and got $10 off per month!
    Have a great week everyone!

  • kim January 08, 2018

    I think it is cute that you fill your cart with seed for more flowers. I too love to plant and can over spend my budget with flowers.

  • Melonie K. January 08, 2018

    I made a small list of items that we needed and stocked up on them on the first - got the best deals we could using Target and Walgreen's deals. Since then I've tried not to make any other purchases; I'm participating in both a No Spend Month and a Pantry Challenge this month. My hope is that I'll have a nice chunk left from it in the checking account for my husband to put on the principal on his car. I'm excited to have also picked up a few freebies and to have helped my daughter save on some gifts she was purchasing with her funds:

  • Lorna January 08, 2018

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) . So wonderful that you were able to get the new to you bike and can use the parts off it or as is for the children what a blessing. It must be vitamin buying time as we did that too also on huge specials using vouchers. I too understand about working to a budget but sometimes it is for the best and as we say we can always get that later if we have extra in our budget.

    Oh boy what a busy week we have had a busy week as there has been sales everywhere on items we usually order on the internet mainly but also in stores such as vitamins, minerals, work boots, kitchenware, towels, tea towels, bed sheets and garden tools so we got what we needed as our prices here in our small country town are exorbitant and stocked ahead too.

    So here is how we saved and maximised our small budget for the week and in fact for most of the year -

    In the kitchen -
    - Made all meals and bread from scratch.

    In the garden-
    - Picked 900g of cherry tomatoes from the gardens saving $11.25 over purchasing them.
    - Amended 2 vegetable garden beds with 7 cubic metres of horse manure purchased from a local horse stud for $40 saving $440 over purchasing it in smaller bags here locally.

    Savings for our home deposit -
    - Added more money to our savings account.

    Medical -
    - Ordered 12 - 14 months of most of our vitamins, minerals and herbal creams through an online pharmacy using a 10% off purchase voucher saving $78.26 over what we usually purchase them for here. We put money away in our budget so we can purchase these once a year and usually in January.
    - Ordered 14 months worth of vitamin C off eBay saving $14.76 on usual prices.

    Other purchases -
    - Whilst pricing star pickets from a local metal fabrication factory we found a post driver on super special for $49 and it was the last one so we purchased it saving $45 over what we usually pay in other stores. This is something we have needed for some time but put off purchasing as the price was so high so we are glad now we have it for putting posts in the garden with.
    - We have decided to buy a pair of high ankle leather and canvas work boots each (venomous snakes here) each year so we have backup supplies for when ours wear out. Found them on eBay at a really cheap price with a 10% off voucher saving $189.10 over purchasing them locally.

    Savings on eBay listings -
    - Took advantage of free listings and saved $16.50 on usual listing costs.

    Electricity savings -
    - By using our solar lanterns and only turning on our electric hot water system on once a week we saved around $7.50 in electricity this week.

    Have a wonderfully frugal week ahead everyone :) .

  • tadpole January 08, 2018

    As always I learnt a few more tricks by reading the comments here.
    Thanks for the discussion on emergency water use.

    Like many people in North America, I spent this week battling the weather and trying to stay warm. As a result, I crocheted myself a new scarf using yarn from my stash and a free pattern I found online while huddled in front of my fire.

    Meals came mainly from the pantry and freezer, laundry was hung in front of the wood fire to dry, and I packed my lunch and water to work each day.

    Our greatest frugal blessing came in the form of our truck warranty. Once again, it saved us from an expensive repair. I am so glad that once upon a time we were in a position to buy a newer vehicle with coverage.

    I hope you all have a great week.

  • Hilogene in Az January 08, 2018


    As I read through your accomplishments, I am inspired to do more...if you can do all the gardening, cooking, cleaning, teaching, keeping up with your fabulous blog and everything else, and also be brewing up a new baby, I can get off my lazy butt and do more :). I am in awe of you, seriously. Thank you for keeping up this blog and community when I am sure you could use the extra time in many other ways.

    Frugal accomplishments

    -Ate all but one meal at home, cooking from scratch.
    -Made a new recipe, black eyed peas and ham, that turned out well!
    -Updated the freezer inventory and organized the pantry.
    -The local scratch and dent store had its annual sale on pinto beans so bought the limit of 8 pounds. They also had a great price on a few other “nice to have” items like shredded wheat cereal and Girardhelli chocolate :). Set our January food budget at $200 so am keeping an eagle eye out the rest of the month.
    -perhaps the title of this next section should be...spending money today to hopefully avoid high health care costs later....My husband and I had a long conversation about the wisdom of joining the local gym and getting a trainer to help guide us into a better state, we decided to do it and joined in late December. I have budgeted for this, but find that I am so used to a bare bones budget that this expense seems luxurious. But we are 61 and 70 years old and have not been exercising...we are convinced we need to get back into reasonable shape. It is astonishing how much strength, flexibility and balance I have lost in the last few years.
    -finished creating our 2018 budget and started getting organized for tax time.

  • Juls Owings January 09, 2018

    Hilogene in Az joining the local gym is a Very good choice. My inlaws were just told that 80% of their health problems was caused by NOT working out and eating healthy. Told them to quit sitting and get off their butts even to move by walking around their property. Dad O is to the point he gets short of breathe walking to the mail box... $15,000 later with tons of tests to find out it's because he starting sitting all the time.He is 81 Mom O is 82.

  • Hilogene in Az January 09, 2018

    Your comment made me smile...our neighbors are in their 80’s, a walk to them is to get into their car, and they eat probably once a week at McDonalds! Yikes! How they have lived so long is a mystery...

    Thanks to becoming frugal, cooking our meals at home, as well as me walking the dog every day, we are now both at a good weight and happily have given up most processed food! But ahead is the hard part of getting off our butts :). Now that I understand how diet affects health, I get sad standing in the supermarket checkout line seeing what people buy :(

  • Misty January 13, 2018

    Hilogene in AZ, we are about the same age and we try to walk 1 + mi each day. We fall off the wagon a few weeks at a time, off and on throughout the year, but both of us feel better when we walk. I just read an article in the AARP magazine that also said we (our age group) need to exercise for the rest of our lives to be healthier.

    I also want to send Congrats to Brandy and her family on the new blessing to come. I also am also inspired by Brandy's frugal living.

  • momsav January 08, 2018

    Aren’t garden tomatoes the best? I rarely buy tomatoes from a store anymore. If we can’t get them from the farmers market or grow them, we tend go without.
    I fertilized the indoor lemon tree with fertilizer I bought with the tree. At a T. or two at a time, eight pounds should last a lifetime!
    I redeemed CC points for a 25$ gift card to Target
    We’ve both been battling colds here. So, we’ve been self treating with items at home. Mine seems to be on round two. I may have to get out the big guns!
    Even while sick, i’ve been walking and doing yoga at home for free. If i don’t feel better soon I may have to take a few days off. I hate to admit defeat but I know I tend to push too hard.
    My daughter loves all things OZ. My sister is a seamstress who happens to have a broken furnace. Trying to earn money to fix it, she put the word out that she would make lap quilts for a fee. I had to have her make an OZ quilt. This will be saved for next Christmas or my daughters birthday.(early Jan.) And, while going through the rabbit hole that is the web, I found an old OZ book that would be a nice accompaniment to the quilt. (10$) Not the best time to spend money but one gift is done already.
    While at my sons we went thrifting, like you do! I found a loose weave, 100% wool sweater. I’ve been deconstructing it to make dryer balls. I’m finding that it’s time consuming. And, since I looked through the whole rack and only found one, i’m Thinking these types of sweaters may be hard to come by. I had thought I might make some balls for each of my three children as part of a Christmas gift for next year. After getting started, i’m thinking that may have been an ambitious idea! At this rate, it will take me a loooong time.
    I checked several on-line stores for an herbal I want. I discovered that the cheapest price is from the co-op where I work! That never happens so i’m happy to support the home team on this one!
    I collected warm-up water for flushing and washed baggies and cereal bags. We ate all meals at home, except for a late Christmas dinner for my husband.
    Have a fabulous week!

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