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Frugal Accomplishments For The First Week of August

Zinnia Arrangement in Blue Jar The Prudent Homemaker

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

I reconfirmed that we don't need to buy any school supplies this year (except printer paper, and I'm good for a while). I thought I might need one thing, but my son informed me that we had 4 or 5 of them in the drawer. 

I collected over 25 gallons of water from the drip from the air conditioner, as we had humid weather. I used this water to water potted plants in the garden.

We had an unexpected rainfall! I put out buckets to collect water, and turned off the sprinklers and drip system for the next two days. You can see a little video of my white garden during the rain on my Instagram account.

Al Fresco in August The Prudent Homemaker

The weather cooled down over 25 degrees that evening, so we enjoyed an al fresco dinner in the backyard.

My daughter's youth group had an extra activity this week to learn how to decorate cakes from a woman who makes wedding cakes. As piping icing has been eluding me for years, I decided to stay rather than dropping her off (I would have had to drive home, stay home for 10-15 minutes, and come right back, so staying made sense gas-wise, too.) As it was, only one other girl ended up coming (over 10 had signed up!) and I figured out what I was doing wrong. Obviously, I'll need to practice to make things perfect, but I can now finally ice cakes and cookies! I know a cake decorating class is pricey, and I was starting to think I needed to take one after my sister-in-law worked with me last week and we still couldn't figure out why I couldn't ever get icing to come out of the bag. She came over, we made her icing, and we put it in, and neither of us could get it to come out! My biggest mistake? Using a ziploc bag instead of a regular icing bag. From now on I will use the right tool! I also learned my other major problem: in our heat, you cannot make an all-butter buttercream; it will be liquid. The same goes for Swiss meringue and Italian meringue frostings. They are liquid in our weather here. Frosting needs to be American buttercream with shortening and no more than half-butter, or it will be a liquid that will run right off your cake (and definitely won't work for piping!) I had tried all of those recipes this year and they ran right off/melted off my cakes. (This is also why I haven't shared any birthday photos this year!) 

So now I can do this, which I've wanted to do for years:

Pink Rose Cupcakes The Prudent Homemaker

I purchased two pairs of shorts for my son for $3 from a Facebook garage sale page and two pairs of jeans for $5 for a daughter. It's a little higher than I usually pay but both needs were able to be fulfilled for less than buying new, and they were all in very good condition.

Armenian Cucumber and Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker

I picked the last of the figs, a few tomatoes, 3 Armenian cucumbers, and a handful of red noodle beans from the garden.

I cut basil from the garden.

My husband mended his office chair. A new one would have cost over $200. He paid $4 for parts.

 Neopolitan Cake The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  • Jo August 07, 2017

    The cupcakes look so cute, but that cake, oh that cake looks so delicious and pretty! I haven't piped much frosting, but I'm glad I read this post -- I live in the deep south, so I would probably need to use shortening, too.

    My husband has the start of macular degeneration which is luckily not progressing so far. He also had diabetic retinopathy somewhat. Our doctor recommended an AREDS formula of vitamins for his eyes, and CVS had a BOGO at 50% off sale on these. I also had a $5 manufacturer's coupon good for purchasing two packages of these vitamins, and a $1 off anything coupon from CVS . I bought two packages using the sale and coupons, which sounds great, except Walmart carries the same thing for $6 less per package all the time. So in reality, I only saved around $7 over what I would have paid buying 2 packages at Walmart with the manufacturer's coupon. I'll take it though -- it's money saved, and he needs to take these.
    I finally have some sunshine in which to hang out my clothes. The humidity was 88% all day yesterday, and 99% in the early morning and night, but the sun has finally reappeared after days of clouds.
    Along that line, I'm using vinegar to clean off the black mold trying to grow on my clothesline in this humidity.
    I visited a yard sale, but saw nothing I needed and bought nothing.
    Free entertainment: I went to the library and watched a friend of mine show her gorgeous artwork and explain a little bit about how she does it.
    I need a bedspread for a guest bed, but I have refused to buy one at the prices I've seen. I've not found a used one in decent condition that would match the room, not even off-white, which would be just fine if I could find it. I also discovered bedspreads are hard to find unless you want matelassé, which I don't, because it can be heavy. I find comforters and quilts galore, but this is Florida, and I want a lightweight spread that I can wash and dry easily and that the cat won't want to pick at it, which also crosses chenille off the list. So I saved money by not spending it.

  • Juls Owings August 08, 2017

    Our family in Florida uses light weight blankets instead of bedspreads. My Aunt sewed lace on the edges of one of hers to make it fancy as she called it. My Nonna used a solid color flannel sheet instead of a blanket. Just something for you to think about. Blessed Be

  • JO August 08, 2017

    Good ideas, thank you!

  • Cara in OH August 07, 2017

    This list is from the last couple of weeks:
    -no grocery shopping last week. All meals out of pantry and freezer
    -neighbors gave us: zucchini, blueberries, cucumbers, peppers
    -picked up more zucchini and cucumbers from a roadside stand for free!!
    -harvested parsley, tomatoes and a single zucchini from my garden.
    -froze zucchini, both shredded and chopped
    -completed 3 pinecone surveys
    -downloaded my Free Friday Kroger coupons
    -saved $28.75 using coupons at Kroger during a shopping trip
    -a friend is moving and let me look through her purses. I took a lovely, Fall/Winter Vera Bradley bag. I am happy to have it and she was happy to get rid of it.
    -one of my neighbors went to the U.P. in Michigan for vacation and brought back gifts for my children and gave us some local strawberry jelly.
    -I have turned off the A.C. many days in the last few weeks. It's been unusually cool here, especially at night. I am so glad to have the windows open and air off.
    -school shopping is done and I stayed in budget. My husband and I started saving in January for school shopping and I am SO glad we did. It was so nice to have an envelope of cash for my children's back to school needs this year.
    -attended water aerobics at my neighbors house for free. Every summer, she has weekly water aerobics in her pool. It's a great time to socialize and get exercise! :)
    -said 'no' many times. Sometimes this is the hardest thing for me to do, but it usually pays the biggest dividends.
    -continued with all my usual: library, turn lights off and unplugged cords when not using (I am trying to make this more of a habit), donated unwanted items, made-do with what I have, stayed out of stores, etc.

    Have a great week, everyone! Love the encouragement I get from this community.

  • Debby in Kansas August 07, 2017

    Cake decorating is a skill I will never have. Not because I don't think I can, but because I LOVE homemade buttercream and I would end up eating it all and getting sick!! Since it's just the two of us, when one of us has a birthday, we buy a little cupcake from the market bakery and share it. While the money saver in me knows that a scratch cake would be cheaper, in the long run, it really won't!! So, I will continue to marvel at the cake decorating talented from afar!! I love the pink roses. They're gorgeous....and look pretty tasty!!

    We had a very frugal first week of August, for which I'm very grateful. I'm determined to keep the grocery bill under $100! I know I can, I know I can!!! I do have a small market trip planned tomorrow for some milk and fresh produce, but that's all.

    Our weather has been unusually cool so we haven't been turning on the a/c until 5 pm or so. That's been great to open up and air out the house, plus save on the electric. We got a soaking rain storm on Sat. so that saves us a week of watering and it filled up the rain barrels. All that water does a lot of toilet flushing!!

    I bought some lightweight white denim for 50% off. I'm planning to line my patio curtains so they block more heat. The doors are in the SW corner of the house....I call it the 'Beef Jerky Room' because of how hot it is. I'm going to make the liners snap-ons so they're removable when we don't want to use them. I need to hurry up and take advantage of the cooler weather to get them done. I have no doubt that the normal August heat is coming!

  • J August 07, 2017

    This week I went to my favourite produce farm and stocked up on corn, blueberries, golden plums, peaches, and tomatoes.

    I now have a freezer full of fruit that will be used in the year ahead for baking, treats, smoothies, and conserves.

    I made Southern Style Creamy Corn. I do love corn on the cob, but I find this is they way to stretch the corn the most. I serve it as a side, over cornbread, with beans, with fish, with turkey, and I use 3 cups to make a batch of Corn Chowder (yum!!!). Now, this is for 4 people. It would not stretch quite so far with a larger family!

    My son inherited a bag of superhero toys from his cousins. He has been playing with them non stop all week. It makes me laugh how excited he is about them because the only movie he has ever seen is Winnie the Pooh - yet is loves all the superheroes and knows who they all are. Lots of Captain America and Iron Man in our house this week.

    I did a survey that was sent to me by my alma mater and received a $5 gift card to Indigo Chapters. I used the gift card to order a National Geographic book on polar bears that will go in my nephew's Christmas gift. The book was $4.76 on clearance. Polar bears are his favourite animal and he is really getting into reading which I love.

    We are getting ready to go on vacation - this year we committed to only go on trips that were staying with family or that we could use points for (although this isn't really unusual - we have not gone on a "paid" vacation since July 2013 when we went to North Carolina after finding a great hotel for $50/night. Amazing trip by the way, we loved North Carolina and enjoyed visiting my husband's uncle there). So, next week we will be going to visit family. We are not sure yet which day we are leaving, we want to get some things done around the house before we go.

    We are finally finishing up the renovations and getting the house reorganized. I wrote a bit about it here:
    It is not a DIY post if that is what you are looking for. Just some notes about the materials we used and life in general ; )

    Finally, Brandy I have been thinking about the life insurance, especially this week. I am so glad that you got it. On Thursday last week an old friend of mine from high school died suddenly. He had a small cut that became infected (unknown to him) and by the time he got to the hospital he was septic, he died within 12 hours. He was only 35 years old and leaves behind a wife and two small children. Incidentally, his father in law owned an insurance brokerage so I know he was well insured - but even still - the prospect of raising two kids (11 months and 3 years old) without a principal income earner is a massive financial undertaking (without even mentioning the emotional loss involved). Many friends are contributing to a future education fund for his children. We just never know what tomorrow will bring.

    I hope you all had a great week, and as always I am working my way through all the comments and learning from everyone.

  • I am so sorry to hear about your friend!

    My cousin just died a couple of weeks ago. She was 39. She wasn't feeling well. Her mom (a retired nurse) thought she was dehydrated and needed to go to the hospital. She went in and they kept her "for observation." Two hours later my aunt received a call saying her daughter had died. She is buried now and we still haven't received the results from the autopsy. She died 6 weeks to the day after our grandmother died.

    She leaves behind a 16-year-old son.

    Adding life insurance to our bills at this time is making for some great stretching, since this is a (much) lower income year, but if something happens to my husband, it would be MUCH more difficult to make ends meet. I'm glad we're doing it.

  • J August 07, 2017

    Sorry to hear about your cousin, Brandy. My condolences.

  • Cindy in the South August 09, 2017

    I am so sorry about your cousin. That is terrible. Prayers for her son and family.

  • Maxine August 08, 2017

    Re: Life insurance. A friend was married to an insurance agent, and when he died suddenly in his 50s, she was left well set. Her comment: "I have never heard a widow complain that her husband had too much life insurance."

  • T August 07, 2017

    Good news: Husbands truck tire did not fall off while we were in it. Bad news it is one of a couple repairs costing 1400 dollars. Just feel blessed that he heard a noise and took it in. Another drive could have resulted in tragedy. God does watch after us. So unfortunately we had to get a credit card to pay for it. Glad it is 0 percent interest for 6 months. I know, credit cards are no good. However; we really need our vehicles to get to work and to drive a son to appointments and get groceries. Also, we could not have drove the truck off the lot. The tire literally would have fallen off. So we are stuck with putting it on credit.
    My husband still has a job. We are happy about that. He is doing his best to keep it as long as he can. In the meantime, I am going to do more writing. My husband is going to help me put a children's picture book out on Amazon. I have a lot of story ideas. So If this one goes well, I plan to do more. We had hired a really talented artist to do the illustrations. Now hubby is helping me in hopes of some income, as well as just being a sweet man.
    Cooked all meals at home. My husband's favorite meal was BBQ Runzas. Today, because I am sick, I just opened a couple of cans of chicken noodle soup for dinner. My husband was still happy! My husband was so happy that every time we would think about eating somewhere, I would say, "I will cook something." I was happy as a well.
    Turned thermostat up. Turned lights off. Used natural light from windows.
    Had a romantic picnic at our farm and watched the sunset. We literally used the tailgate of his truck as a table. I love frugal dates.

  • Thank you so much for sharing!
    I hope you can pay off the repair in 6 months. I'm glad you were able to get a credit card to pay for it, and even better at 0% interest for 6 months! Right now that sounds like a great blessing for your family. While it may not be what you wanted, it was what you needed, and now your husband can continue to go to work.

    Good luck with the book! That sounds like a great project!

  • T August 07, 2017


  • Mary August 07, 2017

    We went thru the same thing and had to get one of those cards. Thankfully we were able to pay it off within those 6 months.

  • T August 08, 2017

    I am glad you were able to pay it off. I am hoping we can too.

  • Shara August 07, 2017

    Hooray for a new skill! We use part shortening here, too. It holds shape so much better.

    We had an out of character week for us and I blogged about it here.


  • Stacy August 07, 2017

    Hi Brandy. I've been doing flour frosting lately. It even held up to our 100 degree, super high humidity weather. It got soft but never melted. I wonder if it would be suited to your weather?

  • Holly August 07, 2017

    I learned something this evening that may keep me from buying any more food from Dollar Tree unless it is a major brand name. I bought a bag of chips that, to my mother and me, tasted stale despite having a date several months in the future. I tried to get store credit for the purchase, bringing in a nearly full bag of chips and a receipt. Two clerks and the store manager told me they would not accept food as returns. I asked them to sniff the bag and they refused, even after I sniffed it to prove it wasn't dangerous. So I am stuck with a bag of chips we won't be eating. I might use the chips as bird feed. I am so disappointed. I had written to Dollar Tree a few days ago about the chips and they had not responded, at least they hadn't before I headed to the store this evening. Was this "No food exchanges rule" unique to the local Dollar Tree in the next town over or is this a company-wide policy? Now I wish the new store being built in town was an Aldi instead of a Dollar Tree.

    After a really big frugal fail this week, when I threw out three packages of Kroger shredded cheddar cheese because mom had left it on the counter overnight, mom having read the package instructions as the cheese needing refrigeration once opened, I am now wondering if I was the silly one. I erred, if I did err, on the side of caution because mom is very elderly and I don't want her to get hit with food poisoning. Is Kroger shredded cheese shelf stable like the Velveeta blocks of cheese?

    I admire everyone who is busy canning and preserving during this year's harvest season. I hope to do some pickles and relishes this year.

  • Amara August 07, 2017

    It's not shelf stable, but cheese left out overnight is probably fine. Cheese is a cultured product, so the microbes keep it from spoiling immediately. However, if you are dealing with an elderly person, it's probably better to err on the side of caution.

  • gabrielle August 07, 2017

    Oh how lucky you were to get an icing class! It pays to show up!

    We've been busy here. My husband is building a shed outside to house all the outside tools like the lawn tractor etc... This week I replanted peas and carrots for Fall harvest. We are beginning to pull in tomatoes (this is the wettest summer in since 1962). I was gifted gladiola from a friend's garden and a rhubarb.

    We've been eating a lot from our pantry. as soon as I can, I will start canning salsa. We were also gifted a lot of peaches so it is time to start working on canning those as well. This week, we have Toby Keith tickets (so excited). The last time I saw Toby was in an airport hangar in Iraq. My husband gets a discount on concert tickets through his job.

    My dear friend is getting married and I did a little work on sewing for the reception. I wrote about that here: http://www.dollarsandsensetimestwo.org/2017/08/wedding-planning/ and I was gifted some left over tartan for a rosette. It will look very nice when it is done and it is our city tartan colors.

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