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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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  • PJGT March 06, 2018

    I noticed in some online photos there were baskets to be filled with veggies and put on the rice while cooking. Have you a rice cooker like this, or do you just mix the veggies in?

  • Jeannie March 04, 2018

    Once again, I must thank everyone for all their suggestions in a post a while back regarding my Mom losing her eyesight. The ideas have been so very helpful. Friday my son brought her home after her long winter stay at my sister’s house out of state. The following day I visited her. It was a difficult day made much easier since I felt prepared to deal with her difficulties. As she shared her problems, I was able to give suggestions and together we tried different things. When I called her today, she had found a store bought frozen casserole in her freezer and could not read the directions. She was able to make out the company's logo so I went online, found the directions and read them to her. She was able to cook it by herself because we had already discussed the stove knobs. It was a relief to her to still be able to cook a meal.

    I must again thank everyone who offered suggestions.

    As for frugal news, I have been spending my time handling Mom’s affairs and it seems my money saving activities were on autopilot. After reading Mom’s mail to her, paying her bills, balancing her checkbook and checking on her investments, it made me realize how important it is to be frugal. The day will come when we are too old to make money and must be able to live on what we have invested and saved. Every little bit of saved money adds up over the years and makes a HUGE difference in comfort and quality of life later. I am even more resolved to continue with my frugal lifestyle. I see how it matters.

    I also shared the successes and failures this past month in my winter garden. When the sunshone for a few days I got excited.


    Then the weather turned cold, rainy and I whined.


    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry

  • mable March 05, 2018

    Not just when we are too old, Jeannie. Both my husband and I have had catastrophic illnesses, he at 28 and I at 32. Each time, despite having insurance, our out of pocket costs ate up all of our savings and then maxed out our credit cards. Each time we rebuilt but if we had not been frugal from the first days of our marriage, we would have gone bankrupt each time cancer hit.

  • Jeannie March 05, 2018

    Oh, Mable. I am so sorry. It could happen to anyone of us at any time. Being prepared makes all the difference between a comfortable life and a miserable one. Why others can't see the wisdom of being frugal is beyond me.

  • Jen G March 04, 2018

    I love that your kids earn their money for camp each year. I usually make my kids earn half - but maybe I'm being too easy on them ;-)

    Living Frugally from Urban Seattle:

    *All the kids in public school in Seattle have a week off of school mid-February. It's called MidWinter Break. It is an opportunity to head south and see sunshine for the first time in months....literally, months. I had purchased tickets months ago to take my boys down to LA to visit their abuelos (my husband's parents are immigrants from Mexico). I purchased the tickets far enough out that I got an excellent price on them, but they definitely weren't free. To save money on the trip, we used public transportation to get to the places we wanted to visit, including the beach. There is a metro station next to my in-law's home and this saved gas, time in traffic, and most of all, steep parking fees. We didn't visit the expensive parks, but saw interesting places such as Chinatown, some Mexican markets, and had plenty of beach time. The abuelos took us out to eat a few times, but otherwise we ate at home and enjoyed the great produce in abundance year around in LA. My boys spent a lot of time with their abuelos, practicing their Spanish as well. When we got home, we took a day at the end of the week to enjoy the snow up in the mountains. Once again, we didn't go to an overpriced ski resort to sled, but found a great hill on the backtrails. A fun, but relatively frugal week!

    *Between more careful meal planning, and some Mexican food sent home with us from my mother-in-law, I've managed to shave my grocery budget by about 25% over the last two weeks. I've also been baking bread, which saves over half the cost of my regular store-bought bread.

    *We found an intern at my husband's company to rent our "guest room and bath" for the next month while she is finishing up her internship. I already put her rent check directly into savings for use towards the new home we hope to purchase this summer.

    *I sewed more cloth napkins for our family to avoid buying paper napkins from leftover fabric.

    *We had a rat eat through our car's wiring over Christmas, costing several hundreds of dollars worth of damage to our car. I decided to file an insurance claim on it, but I wasn't very hopeful it was covered. We received a check for the full cost of repairs last week. So glad I decided to give it a try.

  • All of those attending camp from their troop/group at church were told they should each earn all of their money for camp. Camp fees vary by year and by camp; the Scout camps can sometimes be about four times more expensive than the local camp for the girls (depending on what camp the girls go to too, of course). Last year our Boy Scout troop finally started selling camp cards, which tons of other troops in the city have done. They are a great way for the boys to earn their camp money; the cards sell for $5. They are a discount card for several local stores and one of the discounts includes $5 off the local grocery store, so people are often willing to purchase them.

  • Kim March 04, 2018

    I apologize if this has been said, but the GED is no longer required for FAFSA from homeschool students. You may want it for another reason but you can skip it for college entrance or the FAFSA.

  • Yes, another reader mentioned it. Definitely a change. We're still going to have her take it as we have planned it, and we'll have to see what we want to do for the other children.

  • Lilli March 04, 2018

    I am so happy to be back on track financially due to the tax refund. Sadly, it took every penny to right my wrongs but the stress is relieved. I took money and put up so I won't have this same problem reoccur. I went to the thrift store and bought myself summer clothes. My weight gain is substantial and I don't fit into any of my clothes. It just happen to be everything half off day so I really stretched my 40.00. I bought 30 pieces and got some really pretty stuff. After not having the heat or a.c. on all month, my bill was still 130.00. I am dumbfounded. I kept the lights off and tried to keep things unplugged. Tomorrow when college boy goes to work, I am going to sneak and turn down the water heater. I didn't install this one so I have no idea what it is set on. I turned the hot water off to the washing machine. I was happy it wasn't 300.00 but I would like it to be lower. My goal at the moment is to save 50% of our small disability checks. Living off of 500.00 a month is tight but doable. I managed to add 30 lbs of ground turkey at $1.00 a lb to my freezer. I also found 10 cans red salmon at 3.00 and 3.50 lb frozen salmon to add to my stockpile. I am so grateful to have a full pantry and the ability to add good deals to it. All the great ideas and support have meant so much to me the last couple of months.

  • Juls Owings March 05, 2018

    Sounds like vampire electronics... Water heater with a tank that is electric can be a huge one. Turn off ALL computers/printers etc also. ALSO check what you are paying for as ours here is 8 ¢ and is going up to 12¢ at the home we are buying.Propane is going up $1./gal also...

  • cathy March 05, 2018

    Have you thought about calling your utility company to see if they offer free energy audits? If so, it might help you figure out why your bill is so high. Just a thought, but does your college-age son have a computer or other mobile devices? Maybe he's not shutting down the computer at night or maybe he's leaving chargers plugged in, even when he's not charging anything. I seem to constantly remind my kids of this. They think it's no big deal, but phantom power can use a lot of electricity. Another thing you can do (if you're not already doing it), is to put things like your TV on a power strip. Then make sure the power strip is off at night. Even when the TV is off, it's still using phantom power.

  • Libby March 05, 2018

    Congrats Lilli for getting out from underneath the financial stress. What a great feeling :)

    I have a Kill A Watt meter and found if very interesting to plug it into different appliances/electronics to see what is using a lot of juice. I know some libraries have this meter to lend out or maybe a neighbor has one? I found the "phantom" usage of my TV when off was $10 per month. I put it onto a strip and now the strip is shut off unless we are actually watching TV.

  • Lilli, Libby's comment about her tv being $10 a month of vampire power really made me think. I don't know what size tv she has, but for that much money, it would be worth me switching to a power strip within just a couple of months.

    I did a bit of searching online about vampire power costs and I found this chart that might help you lower your electric bill from vampire costs: http://www.savewithsrp.com/advice/appliance/energyvampires.aspx

    I realized I never thought about turning off my router and modem at night after seeing this chart. That would be helpful!

  • Libby March 12, 2018

    Brandy thank you for the link to the energy vampire site. It is very interesting. Something to note is his calculations for annual savings are based on 10 cents per kilowatt. My average kilowatt cost last year was 23.2 cents.

    I also should be clear that when I put the TV onto a strip several years ago, I also put: an older VCR, a DVD player, a Wii and an Xbox. Combined the savings was almost $10 per month.

  • Lilli,
    I think you said before that you are in Washington state. I was thinking that perhaps you would qualify for weatherization help because of your income level. That would make your house more energy efficient and help you save money on your electric bill as well. Here is what I found for getting help in Washington state: http://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/weatherization-and-energy-efficiency/
    If you are elsewhere, you can search for your state name and low income energy assistance, and then look for weatherization programs.

    Another thought would be to start changing out your lightbulbs to LED bulbs. Your dollar store may even carry them. Start replacing them slowly as you are able to, starting with the rooms where you use the lights the most frequently. This should significantly reduce your lighting costs. Your weatherization assistance/energy assistance program may provide lightbulbs as well; they may be flourescents (but LEDS will use even less power).

  • Lilli March 07, 2018

    Ladies, thanks for all your help . There are multiple items connected in the entertainment center in the family room. I actually have no idea what the kids are using in there. The tv in my room runs pretty much constantly. I am going to check out all the plugs tomorrow and buy power strips as needed. I think I need two and remember seeing some at one of our local outlets. I hadn't really thought much about the bulbs because when I moved in in 2014, I installed LED's. It appears that sugar cookies autistic young friend has exchanged them all out. I can't really explain that other than light bulbs are one of his things .... I used the chart that Brandy linked to and was amazed at the vampire usage. These bills are horrible. My 18.00 of actual water usage came to 70.00 to pay with added fees. If I cut back any more, I am going to have to take my kids to the local park to shower in the water sprinklers.

  • Diana E. March 08, 2018

    We installed LED in our most used lights and found our light bill decreased by $11.00 a month! We live Oregon and I went to the Energy Trust of Oregon website and filled out a survey. They sent 8 LED canned light bulbs that we have in our kitchen and 8 or 10 LED regular bulbs along with shower heads. It saved us so much money and I still can't believe how much it decreased our light bill! Maybe Washington (if that is where you live) has something similar.

  • Cindy S. March 08, 2018

    Just as a bit of warning, we had our house weatherized in 2010. They did it so well that now it is TOO tight. We no longer have enough ventilation. It was a free program, but they refused to come back and fix it, saying we simply had too many people living in the house. We have 5 people in 944 sq ft with a full basement and two bathrooms so I don't know if this is true, but the people we bought the house from were a family of four. Our gas and electric bills are great but we get a lot of condensation on windows and mold in some corners and closets that I have to constantly stay on top of in the Winter. We tried to use a dehumidifier but sadly it didn't make much difference. We use exhaust fans whenever we can.

  • Lilli March 08, 2018

    Cindy, this problem can become very severe. I refrained from adding extra insulation to my home when I rewired it. My house was a foreclosure that I purchased and I did all the work to it by myself. The condensation in the attic can build up and cause a great deal of structural damage . Wood and drywall will rot out and the costs can be massive. The mildew and mold are also dangerous and it grows like crazy. Perhaps someone could check the issue and a fan in the attic may help. There are many sites that address this issue. I hope you find a good solution. I use to inspect houses for reverse loans when they needed a structural engineer letter. I saw this problem often.

  • Maxine March 04, 2018

    I live out in the sticks, an hour's drive to town. As always, staying home for 5 out of 7 days makes it a lot harder to spend!

    I wash all of my dishes on the short one-hour cycle and they come out fine. I've only had to re-wash two bowls in nearly 3 months. I cleaned the filter of my DW (it's a Kenmore made by Bosch) and it was a snap--just lifts out.

    I spent $53 at the grocery store (Winco). This included some meat. It also included 3 packages of Krusteaz cookie mix for .25 each! And enough bulk cinnamon to refill the bottle for just pennies.

    I returned an unopened bottle of molasses that I didn't need. (I loathe molasses in any form and would never use it up). I also returned a shirt I bought on clearance that didn't fit as well as I thought. Total: $8.91.

    We eat dinner out on Thursday nights because of when and where we have to pick up our daughter. Other than that, all meals were cooked and eaten at home. I made a weekly menu and followed it.

    I paid my bills online. It's faster and saves on postage. My electric bill was lower than last month.

    Still learning to install and use apps on my phone for store $aving$. No app savings to report this week.

    My only spending for the week--besides groceries and dinner--was a thrift store buy: 2 glass mugs for .35 each; 1/2 yard fabric, $1; and a package of buttons for .50 = $2.20 plus tax.

    I asked on freecycle for plastic nursery pots, but have not received any responses. I also offered our satellite TV dish and receiver, but also no responses yet.

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