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Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Two Weeks

There was no frugal accomplishments post last week because my computer died. I'm still waiting for a new one to show up. Thanks to my eldest son, I've found a workaround so that I can edit photos and posts until I have a working computer again (though it takes a lot longer, so I'm glad the new computer should be here by the end of the week!) Thankfully everything is backed up and I haven't lost anything.

I harvested green onions,garlic chives, Meyer lemons, and Swiss chard from the garden.

I covered more seedlings with jars to help them to grow faster in the garden.

I accepted two used garden pots for the garden from my parents.

Nightgown Detail The Prudent Homemaker

Flannel-backed satin nightgown

I sewed birthday gifts for a daughter using fabric I had on hand.

I mended a shirt and a dress. I replaced the elastic in three pairs of sweatpants for my youngest. I had elastic that I had bought in bulk on sale that I used to replace the worn elastic. I also replaced the elastic in a pair of dress pants for him.

I turned three long-sleeved blouses into short-sleeved blouses for a daughter. Short-sleeved blouses are more practical in our climate, and the long-sleeved blouses had been passed down to my fourth daughter with almost no wear because of that. Now she has three like-new blouses to wear. I added the buttons from the cuffs to my button jar.

I went through several drawers and cabinets in the house and ruthlessly decided on items to purge that hadn't been used in the last year. To make it easy for myself, I went through one cabinet or one to two drawers a day. I added these items to our garage sale piles. and started pricing items for my sale later this month. My mom also went through her house in the same way and added more things to my garage sale items. Several of my cabinets and drawers are now more organized, which is a great feeling.

Our piano teacher came to the house for lessons and saw our garage sale items stacked by the front door. She asked if she could buy items ahead of time. Of course! I sold her a game for $1. She also told me she had a bunch of items I could have for my sale that she'll bring by for me.

Eyelet Dress Bodice The Prudent Homemaker

Making the vintage-style eyelet dress bodice using the $1 bedskirt I purchased at a garage sale last fall.

I used the $20 gift card I earned from Target in February as a wedding gift for a couple who is registered at Target.

My mom takes a woman grocery shopping each week. The two of them give me all of their Monopoly pieces from the two stores in our area that are currently giving out game pieces (a promotional game). So far I have a couple of instant winners: a free donut or bagel and a free bottle of aspirin. Since my husband's office is in the same parking lot as one of these stores, I gave him the coupons; he can enjoy the donut and I'll add the aspirin to our medicine shelf.

I combined coupons, sales, and Target cartwheel offers to purchase the Easter candy for less that I will use to fill Easter eggs.

I gave two of my sons a haircut and my husband cut his own hair.

My eldest daughter was asked to work as a server for a wedding luncheon. Not only did she get paid, but at the end of the luncheon, the servers got to take home leftover cooked meat. She brought home a tray of cooked, diced chicken.

My eldest son watched the RootsTech conference online, where he was able to listen to several speakers as well as watch several online classes for free.


What did you do to save money these past two weeks?



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  • Heidi Louise March 07, 2018

    Thank you! I have seen some fascinating drone-taken photos, very much gives a different view of the ordinary.

  • Marivene March 11, 2018

    The laws on drones must vary somewhat by state, since ours are not the same as yours. Since I consider someone flying a drone over my home & back yard to be more than slightly intrusive, I am glad I live where I do.

  • Dee Wolters March 06, 2018

    Brandy and others: GED is not required for financial aid (FAFSA) for home educated students. Home school students receive a high school diploma and have a high school transcript, therefore are high school graduates. GED is for students who have not graduated from high school. All of our children have graduated from our home school and were accepted at state university. Now, all 4 are in university- oldest- PhD Virginia Tech, 2nd- Medical school- Quillen Medical School, Eastern Tennessee State University, 3rd DVM- PhD University of Tennessee Knoxville, 4th- Senior University of Tennessee Martin.
    Please check requirements in your state and with the university your child wants to attend for admission and financial aid requirements. Most admission and financial aid counselors are familiar with home school requirements.

  • Gabrielle bryen March 06, 2018

    Hi Brandy:

    I love the photos. I can't wait to see the finished eyelet bodice..is it a Winter project? I love her work. Hopefully you will post about it.

    The answer that was posed by a reader above...the military will not accept homeschool transcripts UNLESS they are affiliated with an online academy that gives a regular diploma and that is case by case. They do accept GEDs but they are not considered as desirable as a high school diploma. There is a work around...if you have college credits those will usually suffice and bump up the recruiting category (for example a GED is recruiting category Bravo but college transcripts can make an applicant an alpha.)

    The school where my son takes piano is offering free 6 week cycles of classes for parents. They are group classes and meet weekly. I'm taking guitar, so I'm pretty excited about that.

    We are fostering a greyhound through a local greyhound rescue. Ours is 23 months old and a failed racer. He came from a track in FL. He is absolutely delightful. Very friendly and loving.

    We had a Nor'Easter last week which took out our 12 foot flagpole. The winds literally snapped the pole at the base. We are expecting a second norEaster tonight and 8-14 inches of snow. :( (I'm tired of snow). March storms here can be crippling because the snow tends to be heavy and wet. My daughters' school is still without power from the Friday storm. Luckily, they were able to divert the staff and children to another site.

    Years ago, I gave my brother a DNA test as a gift. He spit in the tube, mailed it and lost the log on. In the process of moving his office he found the results which were very surprising. you can read about the results here: http://www.dollarsandsensetimestwo.org/2018/02/the-dna-test/

  • The white bodice is a dress I made for my daughter's birthday. Our weather turned cold (we had several frosts after our last frost date, which is unusual, and was odder still as it was in the upper 70's at the beginning of February). Once the weather is a bit warmer I hope to share several dresses in a post.

    In Nevada, home schools do not operate under an umbrella school (such as in Tennessee, where another reader commented from) so we don't have an accredited school issuing a diploma as part of the high school. For our eldest, our plan is for her to take the GED. She is also taking several online college classes from an accredited university, which will give her a college transcript for applying to the school of her choice.

  • Stephanie March 06, 2018

    I love reading this blog. We have been financially negative for the last 3months. We had high hopes of this year being different, but we are feeling broken right now. We are trying our best and both work full-time, but things are not good financially. We are having to be very frugal.

  • Stephanie,

    I am so sorry to hear that things are negative for you right now. Is there anything else that you can cut? Even tiny cuts add up to something for which you don't have to go into the negative. Can you eat from your pantry and freezers and not go shopping right now? Can you visit a food pantry to help round out what you have in your pantry? Can you sell items that you are no longer using, perhaps through Craig's List or a local Facebook group? Are there family members who could help you for a bit in any way? Can you find more ways to reduce your utility usage?

    I know it may seem like you have cut everything. My husband and I have found there is always something more that we can cut, even when it seems impossible to cut more. Ofttimes the cuts are tiny, but they add up to be a lot when put all together, and they often make the difference to keeping things in the positive.

    I hope things improve for you soon.

  • Stephanie March 06, 2018

    Thanks for your kind reply. We have been eating from our pantry and freezer. It is about gone. I hope to have enough this week to do a small bit of shopping. I am going to gather unused household items and try to sell them. We are also going to see what else we can cut down on.

  • Marybeth March 07, 2018

    I am sorry you are going thru this. Stay strong. Tell everyone you know that you are happy to take any food such as leftovers from events or just expired canned/boxed food. I have gotten so much over the years because everyone knows that I'll take it. I have been given food when people have passed away or moved out of town. A friend cleaned out her pantry and found expired stuff. I took it(pasta does not go bad). I have gotten things from free tables at garage sales. I also forage. We have tons of raspberries and mulberries on public property near me so I pick away. Friends and family give me their uncut pumpkins . I just cooked my last one. You have to let people know otherwise it doesn't work. We are all praying for you. Good luck!

  • Stephanie March 07, 2018

    Thank you so much for your kind words.

  • Rhonda A. March 07, 2018

    Stephanie, I'm sorry you are having such a hard time financially right now. Brandy had some great ideas, but I thought I'd add another suggestion. Is there any way you can barter for some of the things you need. Perhaps a friend, family member or co-worker who is going on vacation and would be willing pay you or trade you some food supplies for watching their home/pets while they are gone. Or perhaps someone is moving and could really use your help. Being present when someone is moving can put you in a position to pick up all sorts of goodies for free! Or maybe you or your husband has a skill or talent that you can use to make a bit of extra cash on the side. I know it's tough when both of you work full time. So look for "one off" job opportunities that only take up only a few hours of your time. Even a little bit of irregular cash flow can help with buying some groceries or paying off a bill.

    Is there a bartering or free-cycle group in your area? You might be able to trade items you don't need for things you do need, like food (Margaret, one of the regular commenters does this all the time). Perhaps someone is offering free food or the opportunity to glean free food in your area. Also, if you have specific needs, don't be afraid to put out the word you are looking for it. For instance, if you desperately need a new piece of furniture or more canning jars, let people know. Sometimes a friend or co-worker has a family member who is moving (or passed away) and they need to get rid of household items or they just have stuff in their basement/garage collecting dust. Often they are willing to giving it away, so they don't have to deal with it anymore. It's amazing what you might be able to pick up for free, if people know you need it.

    When everything seems just too overwhelming, remember to breath...it does help! It may take time to find people to barter with, so keep looking for those opportunities even if they don't present themselves at first. As for changing your financial situation, the year isn't done yet, so there is still time to get it headed the right direction.

  • Maxine March 07, 2018

    Stephanie, you don't have to answer this, but are you just struggling through a bad situation (medical bills, etc.), or are you in so deep you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel? If you don't have a plan to end this, perhaps it is time to make one, and implement it. Go to the library and get Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover." Read it and start!

    Do you have a budget? (I know, it's the dreaded "B" word). When you plan your budget, don't make the mistake of thinking you can make big cuts right off the bat. In other words, if you are spending $600 for groceries, don't think you can do it for $100...just because Brandy does! Maybe you can later, but not now. Write down realistic figures for necessities and then look for other places to cut. For instance, there is hardly an adult in America who couldn't go for a year or more without buying new clothes. Do you eat out? Don't. Cook all of your meals, and pack lunches for everyone. Don't pay anyone for things you can do yourself. Reduce your budget to cover housing, utilities, food and transportation to work until things improve (a lot!).

    Let me tell you what I just did. We are old retired people and satellite TV has been a big part of my DH's entertainment. We moved recently. I dropped our landline phone and newspaper delivery (because they wouldn't deliver the paper this far out in the sticks) and moved from satellite to streaming TV. These steps saved about $1,000 per year right off the bat! As I have fine-tuned our streaming package, I've saved another $20 month, or $200 a year. Just by making these changes ONCE (well, twice, if you count the fine-tuning) we are saving $100 a month.

    Try to avoid contracts. Streaming is a month-to-month thing, no contracts. (Plus there are lots of free channels). Also, both DH and I have prepaid cell service--Tracfone for him (he uses about $8-$10 a month) and Straight Talk for me ($45 month unlimited). Resist the impulse to sign a new contract (or extend the one you already have) to get a phone upgrade. (Nothing is ever free). If we ever had to cut back to one phone, or no phones, we could do it because we don't have contracts.

    I guess what I am saying is to get to the root cause of your problem and take steps to resolve it. The other ideas you have been given will help. Brandy is right--there are always things you can do, and the little things really do add up.

  • Stephanie March 07, 2018

    Thank you Maxine. We had a few bills that took too much out of the bank as well as having to help a family member with their house payment. We got really in deep and behind. We have cut our grocery budget down and are looking at cutting our cellphone bill down. We have already gotten rid of cable and put an antenna up.

    We haven't made a budget in a while, so we plan on doing that, as well as making menus.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC Canada March 07, 2018

    If you have a college or university nearby, you could host students or visiting faculty. Both pay fairly well and your tenants would be pre-screened. I was a host family to foreign exchange students for years and loved the experience. The school handled all of the money from the student and paid money into my checking account as I earned it. After expenses like food for the extra student, I made about $500/month.

  • Stephanie March 07, 2018

    I will check into this. We do have two universities nearby. Thanks so much!

  • Stephanie March 07, 2018

    Thanks for all the great ideas. We are going to try some of these suggestions. It seems like many people in our area are struggling. I am praying it will change soon.

  • Tina March 07, 2018

    Stephanie, my husband fell on the job in Dec 2016, started getting Workmans Compensation benefits in January 2017 which were just a fraction of his pay. He kept telling the doctors that he hurt in his groin/hip but they kept insisting it was his back. He told them he knew back pain and it wasn't his back. In May 2017 he had an MRI with contrast which showed he had a broken hip. They said he didn't hurt it in the accident and in October 2017 they sent a check for one weeks benefits and we received a letter the next day stating he was able to work. Of course he couldn't with a broken hip!
    I have fibromyalgia and a terrible back due to being rear ended in 2009 so my husband wanted me to take care of our home and he'd work. I've tried baking for a restaurant, paid good but I'd be flat on my back for days afterwards. Anyway we were left with no income, I paid what bills I could and bought a few groceries with what was left. We dropped cable, internet, decreased auto insurance, turn lights off, unplug appliances, etc. Thankfully outright vehicles are paid off and a few years ago we refinanced our mortgage for a lower monthly rate. We applied for and received SNAP for the second time in our 27 years of marriage. We also got Medicaid so he had hip replacement surgery on January 27th and have a lawyer for his Workmans Comp claim issue and to have Medicaid paid back. His doctor said his hip was the worst he's ever seen in his career. My husband is only 48 years old.
    I racked my brain to figure out a way to make money and started babysitting one child, next week I will have the limit you are allowed. I am able to pay bills, buy my daughter clothes that she needed, buy food, etc. I work 7 days a week, keep children later than others do and even keep children overnight. I live in a small community so that helps because I know most people or a family member or friend. I made myself available for when people needed childcare. I remember how hard it can be to get safe, reliable and convenient childcare when I worked a crazy schedule. I pray you find something that will help bring you some relief soon.

  • So. CO Mary March 07, 2018

    Stephanie. You might consider reaching out to local services (Catholic Social Services for example - they are not for Catholics only and I know a lot of communities have social and/or faith based social relief agencies). They can provide access to food banks and other resources. They also might have financial counseling for assisting in setting up budgets, etc. It sounds like you've done a lot to address the issues you are facing. It is also important to remember to do self care. One of the things I absolutely love about Brandy and the incredible people who post and comment is that while facing adversity and sometimes almost overwhelmingly difficult situations they also find ways to take care of themselves and help those they love to think of self care. A cup of tea, a borrowed book or movie (keep the focus on the positive and uplifting!), wearing clothes that please them, spend time with a friend or family member are positive and supportive - these can help so much. And especially for you and your spouse to do together. Sometimes during my darkest days since I've discovered this blog I've returned here to read past posts and then catch up with new events. Brandy's blog is truly a light when there is darkness and one feels broken. These amazing people feel like friends and when they lift you up they truly do so! Take care!

  • Athanasia March 10, 2018

    Stephanie, I just had two to mention that seemed different from all the good suggestion that you already received here.

    1) Is there a payment plan set up for the return of the funds you leant to a relative?

    2). Have you contacted your church\pastor\elder board re your difficulties? I would think most churches would have a benevolent fund that they could draw from, either as a loan or direct gift. Also, we keep an unlocked food pantry, no questions asked, at church for the use of members and for non member youth group families.

  • Jenny March 06, 2018

    I have never posted my frugal accomplishments so this is a first for me. Last week it was time to order checks. I noted that there was an easy online order form that would save a trip to the branch. After typing all of our information in, the order would be thirteen dollars more than the last order I placed. I decided to wait and ask at the local branch if it would be cheaper for them to order for me. When I handed the teller the form, she told me they had a new much cheaper company and they would order them for me. Total savings ended up being $28! We also practiced frugality by eating more at home, using up leftovers, and not shopping unnecessarily. I found chicken breast on sale and purchased two packages to break into smaller servings. I now have six different meal portions in the freezer.

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