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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Siam Basil in pot with bench The Prudent Homemaker 

This post contains affiliate links.

On the try, try, again line I planted seeds in the garden yet again for sunflowers and zinnias. Only one of the seeds came up from all of the zucchini seeds I planted two weeks ago. This next week, I hope to plant again and I also plan to dust the areas where I planted the seeds with diatomaceous earth, which will hopefully keep the bugs from eating the seedlings as they come up (as well as kill the bugs, which will hopefully lead to a more productive garden!)

The Siam basil (pictured in the photo above) that I cut for last week's arrangements for my table rooted in the vases. I planted the rooted cuttings in pots in the garden. This basil was advertised as having red leaves, which it clearly does not, but it tastes just fine. I am still hoping to grow some next year with red leaves just for the fun of variety in color on our plates.

I cut Genovese basil for the table this week, this time expressly to let it root. By topping my basil plants, they will branch out and give me a larger harvest. I will plant the cuttings that grow in the garden. I took off any leaves that would be below the water line, rinsed them, and left them to dry to use in cooking.

I harvested green onions and Swiss chard from the garden.

My 2-year-old watched shows on YouTube. This is something we do every week but that I don't mention often. There are plenty of shows to watch this way without paying for cable tv or even for a subscription service such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Our favorites children's shows are Peppa Pig, Little Einsteins, Backyardigans, and Rolie Polie Olie.

My husband gave himself a haircut.

I continued to collect water from the air conditioner run off and used it to water the garden. I also used shower warm-up water in the garden.

I read four more Hamish Macbeth e-books from the library.

I used several coupons at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to purchase two sets of new sheets and two new pillows for my bed. I have a California King-sized bed, and most places don't sell sheets in that size; they are one of the few places that do. I usually only have one set of sheets at a time, but we decided to purchase a second set this time as we were able to do so. The store will take expired coupons, and you can use one coupon per item. Using coupons saved me $60 on my purchases.

My two middle-school children tried out the school lunches a couple of times last week, as we qualify for free lunch. My son decided he would rather take a lunch, and my daughter will take a lunch some days, depending on the menu. Of particular concern to me is the high-calorie content of the lunches, usually hitting 1500 calories for one meal. I won't be purchasing special items for packed lunches, so our food costs won't go up from packing lunches. I did end up deciding on these divided boxes which are small enough to fit in their lunch bags.


Dear readers, there were some less than kind comments last week towards one another. Some I did not post, and some that were borderline I let go through, but feelings were hurt. As you share your frugal accomplishments, please remember that others reading here come from all different places in the world, with different religious, political, and personal beliefs, and that everyone deserves respect and kindness. As a reminder, I won't be publishing anonymous comments.

I share a lot of things, but I don't share everything, and no one is obligated to share all aspects of their life with others. Our reasons to send three of our children to school are personal, and I don't know if we will send them next year or if this is just what we need for this season of our lives. I still have six children at home and my days are quite full.

I would like to thank all of you who offered some wonderful ideas for dealing with school expenses and lunches. 

I am deeply touched by those who said they were praying for me as I make some big changes in my life. The transition has been difficult for me and the change in my schedule is difficult. I have thought especially about all of the comments that came from teachers this last week; I have thought how hard it must be to teach all day, and come home to correct papers (classes here are between 36-42 students per class and 6 classes a day), make dinner, and also help your own children with their homework each night. I am touched that you make time to read here.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  • Athanasia August 29, 2018

    Mabel, are you talking about Jerusalem artichokes?

  • Ava August 29, 2018

    The personalized pumpkin is awesome!

  • Libby August 27, 2018

    Brandy I love the community you have created here. I benefit greatly from the discipline of tracking my frugal accomplishments and posting them. I love the sharing of wisdom and experience that both you and other readers share. I love the glimpses into your family’s personal life. Thank you for revealing as much as you do and for taking the time to maintain this platform as well as the courage to speak up and set boundaries. Sending you love and blessings.

    • Mowed the lawn twice since we have had so much rain – my least favorite chore as I am so allergic but I’m not willing to shell out $45 a week to have it mowed.
    • Shopped Staples on way home from work. Bought notebooks for $0.25 that I use for daily planners and $.50 composition notebooks for journaling.
    • Cashed in Swagbucks for a$25 Amazon gift certificate
    • Stocked up on cheddar & pepper jack cheeses at a rock bottom price. Am freezing most of it
    • Made swag goal x 1
    • Bought a bushel of “utility” peaches saving $5 from a first quality bushel. Sliced and froze peaches to put on oatmeal in the winter.
    • Hung up two loads of laundry to dry
    • Washed shower curtain liner in washing machine
    • Tried new recipe (combination of two) for zucchini & corn fritters from Smitten Kitchen – the fritters were delicious but several of the corn kernels “popped” like popping corn and flew around the kitchen. I will probably make the safer-just-zucchini fritters in the future!

  • Tina S. August 27, 2018

    It was interesting to read everyone's comments last week. I don't have children, so I have never had to make a schooling choice for someone else. My niece and nephews have at various times gone to public school, an environmental school with a homeschooling component, and a Montessori school. Different things worked for them at different stages in their lives. I send positive thoughts your way, Brandy, that the continuing transition goes smoothly and works well for your family. I can imagine that it is a huge adjustment for everyone.

    On to my frugal accomplishments:
    - I bought a pair of shorts for a very good price on clearance. The legs were too wide, so I altered them and they fit much better.
    - My sandal straps had stretched out so I poked new holes in them. I bought a leather hole punch a few years ago, and have used it several times for this purpose. The shoe repair place near here charges $2 per punched hole.
    - I borrowed a library book on how to sew knits, and some patterns were included. Most of the patterns offered were not my style, but I liked one top. So I traced the pattern to try out. I cut it out of some fabric I already had, so I will sew it up to see if I like it.
    - A strap on a reusable grocery bag had come loose, so I sewed it back up.
    - I had my three year anniversary of work, and my boss gave me a nice bottle of champagne as a gift.
    - I walked to work and made my lunches. One lunch was composed of various leftovers, and put together they did not taste so great. I ate it anyway.
    - Things finally calmed down at work and home so I was able to get some things around the house done and clear away some paperwork.

    Hope everyone has a great week.

  • Maxine August 27, 2018

    Keeping it short(er) and sweet and on-topic this week to make moderating easier for Brandy. In addition to the usual frugal stuff, this was my week:

    Had a couple of no-spend, no-drive days, which always help.

    No food waste. My mother would be so proud!

    Cut my daughter’s bangs. She gets one haircut a year, and I keep the bangs short. Wish I’d learned to cut hair, and I encourage all of you younger gals to get on You Tube and learn. Huge frugal skill.

    Asked the guys who were digging post holes for our fence to pile the dirt in one spot. I got about half a yard of "free" soil for a raised bed.

    Asked on Freecycle for rabbit poop for raised bed and was offered alpaca poop. I have 6 big bags! The alpaca owner also gave me 2 dozen eggs, including 7 duck eggs.

    Although I didn't benefit from this, I hope others did: I gave away two light fixtures, a 6 ft. water key and a coffee maker.

    If "spending to save" counts, I bought two storm/screen doors and door hardware at Lowe's, using 10% off coupon. Saved additional 5% using their CC. Altogether, about $60 saving.

    Received a 10% off coupon in the mail from Home Depot.

    Bought some hardware stuff at Ace Hardware, using a $10 welcome coupon and stacking a $5 Ace Rewards card.

  • Cheryl J August 27, 2018

    I always get so much out of your posts, Brandy, as well as all the commenters. Thank you for this weekly post. Here are my frugal accomplishments for the last 2 weeks.

    I was able to purchase 3 bags of coffee for $2 each at Target after using a gift card and coupons.

    Purchased 6 pair of socks for myself using 15% off at JC Penneys plus a $10 award I had on my account.

    Received $30 in Bonus Bucks from JC Penney from a recent purchase and was able to use it to buy a shirt for youngest son and 2 skirts for myself. Yes, I do like JC Pennys, LOL!

    My husband and I enjoyed an hour at our library and picked up several books.

    The washer stopped working but my husband was able to make a temporary fix until the $8 part arrives in a couple of days. Funny how when an appliance breaks it throws your world into chaos!

    Received multiple gift cards for my birthday a few weeks ago. Always a nice surprise. My sons and daughter in law went together and purchased me a beautiful engraved necklace. I was touched and thought how frugal of them!

    Did some bulk cooking with my daughter in law so we both would have some meats and soups available so we’re not tempted to eat out in the evening.

    My youngest son started his final year of college so we’ve been working on having some quick lunches ready for him. Mostly sandwiches so he can drop by the house between classes or take them with him. He has saved a lot of money by living with us during his college years. We were very blessed in that he received complete tuition paid due to his grades. This will help if he decides to get a master’s degree as we will be in a good position to help him out.

  • Laura August 27, 2018

    I am glad they tried school lunch, even if one didn’t like it. That would save you some money. The calories are high but they may not eat everything. I had planned on packing lunch all week but my son left his lunchbox at school today so he will be buying tomorrow!
    The Disney Junior app and website also has some shows for free.

  • Maureen August 27, 2018

    Brandy- Thank you again for providing such a blog full of inspiration.
    My Frugal Accomplishments;
    *Received a flu shot at CVS (saving me a co-pay and doctor visit)
    *Turned in recycling and made $16
    * A friend shared day old goodies from the local bakery
    * Renewed library books and checked out books for my kindle
    *The following magazines arrived in my mailbox (via rewardbee and reward survey); US, People, Golf, Money, Sports Illustrated, Women's Day, Entertainment Weekly
    * Used coupons on all grocery purchases and was able to save a lot of money this week combining coupons with sales.

  • Jennifer C in Phx August 27, 2018


    First of all, I actually found so much about last week’s post and comments fascinating! One thing that really stood out was the discussion on school expenses. Three of my kids attend a private Christian school associated with our church. Every year we spend soooo much money buying supplies, uniforms, etc. I thought it was just us because we were a private school. My husband would constantly make comments about how when he was in school they just bought what they needed. Interesting and kind of nice to know it’s the same at the public school.

    Speaking of that, my husband commented to me this past weekend that our general expense spending was nearly double for the month of August, and that when school started last Monday, the spending literally stopped. We have four kids and the school spending is ridiculous. It’s frustrating to realize that the spending is high and you’re not even being frivolous, just doing necessities. Hopefully everything will last all year and we don’t have to replace.

    The first three weeks of August where also an incredibly busy time at work, with several days of Overtime. One week the most complicated meal was frito boats. It was insane. Thankfully that has slowed down now that school has started back up at the university as well. That meant that our meals were a bit more normal. I tried very hard to cook ahead as much as possible and also took time to cook a few extra things that became lunches. I also got a free sub and two free fountain drinks at work using coupons that the dining hall is giving out like water.

    Due to the OT my boss is giving me a day off on Friday. I get a day to myself while the kids are at school and a four day weekend. I am beyond thrilled. Since starting this new job in January I have barely taken off any time and I almost never take time off without the kids. My soul is so looking forward to this.

    I had a really cool thing happen last Friday. My coworker asked if I knew anyone who wanted some furniture for free. I asked what she had and she started naming things that I have been praying for. I said “if you are serious, we would love to have that stuff!” She got so excited! She’s a single woman so didn’t want to have strangers come to her house but really needed to get rid of this stuff. We went over Saturday and loaded up a sofa, love seat, chaise lounge, dresser and end tables. It’s been outside and needs to be cleaned but it’s all in good condition and even matches our colors. I’m so thankful. This was not a need, per se, as we could have survived without, but it was a definite want as we have more space in our new house and the boys are outgrowing their shared dresser. The funniest part is how thrilled she is. She keeps thanking me for taking her stuff!

    Love all the comments every week. This is my favorite post. Have a great one!

  • Tammy August 27, 2018

    I like your story of how you got your furniture. It's great!

  • Mary August 28, 2018

    That is great on the “new” furniture! It’s awesome how things can be passed on and reused.

  • Sue August 27, 2018

    Brandi , thanks for this blog. I look forward to reading it and all the comments every week. Many of the commenters are so much more frugal than I am but I still try. For the first time in my 55 years I'm keeping all my grocery/food receipts for the month . I have a feeling I spend a lot more than I think I do.. Good buys this past week were grapes for $.79 lb and peaches at $.99. The only things I grow are strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and chives. We have to much shade and a small yard. We also have property in NW Wisconsin with and old camper set up. No electricity or water just a fun get away in the woods. Normally I pick a lot of wild blackberries. Not this year, there weren't many blossoms this spring. I only found a handful. I was a little disappointed , i am hopeful next year will be a good harvest. Also, I kept having a tire getting low on my jeep. Hubby found a screw in the tire and repaired it himself.
    Have a great week everyone!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 27, 2018

    Hi Brandy,

    Glad to see things seem to be "falling into place". The smoke finally cleared up at least temporarily so tomorrow
    I am going to take things outside to unpack, sort, throw away, recycle from the boxes that came home from storage.

    I, like many of my Canadian friends, have been watching tv programs about John McCain. Some things brought tears to my
    eyes, and I am sure to my friends' eyes, too. For example, when a woman said she did not trust Obama, he was an Arab, McCain took the microphone gently from her and said "no, Ma'am, he is a decent family man with whom I disagree about a number of things". Now THAT is the definition of class. And that he wanted both parties to work together for the greater good. It costs nothing to watch programs about him but one gains a lot. I have liked seeing the tributes that have been written about him. Regardless of one's politics, one admires a politician
    who was honourable in politics and a gentleman.

    It is cold here and feels like fall already. I have picked the larger pears so that they may be ripening inside, and off the tree. I have been
    picking a large tomato for lunch everyday but something has been eating a large hole in the tomatoes so I may harvest the green ones
    and try some fried green tomatoes. I hear they're good. I am dealing with all the applecrabs that were picked tomorrow. Then on Thursday or Friday a trip to the farmers' market for a case of pesticide peaches to put in the little freezer. Not a bargain but a treat!

  • Margie from Toronto August 27, 2018

    Glad to hear that some of the smoke has cleared so breathing should be a lot easier now. The smoke has come so far east that it has now hit northern Ontario and has just added to the discomfort there as the fires here are still burning. Hopefully the next few weeks will see cooler temperatures for us all and some rain to finally help the firefighters extinguish all those forest fires - it has been a terrible Summer for fires all over NA.
    And I agree with your comments regarding John McCain - while I may not always have agreed with his stance on matters - I always thought he was an honourable man and a true hero.
    PS - I have never tried fried green tomatoes but my stepmom made a green tomato relish which was delicious.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 28, 2018

    Sorry the smoke has gone to Ontario. There is a little more here tonight but it is still low. The furnaces have come on and I'm hoping it doesn't bring in smoke through the cold air intake. The day turned into a beautiful blue sky day, the norm for us! It is chilly outside so I'm hoping it warms up just a little.

    I liked the address to the American public that John McCain left. It was quite moving. Again, the measure of the man... I agree with your comment –– I definitely did not always agree with his stance on matters, but he was a true hero. One has to admire that he did not trade on being the son of an admiral to be returned to the U.S. ahead of his fellow comrades, prisoners, even though it meant he would have escaped the torture inflicted on him.

  • Tammy August 27, 2018

    So glad to hear the smoke has cleared up and you can enjoy the outdoors.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 28, 2018

    Thanks Tammy. I think the forecast for the week is pretty good but we'll probably get more smoke before it's finished for good. It certainly makes one appreciate clean air all the more.

  • Sue August 27, 2018

    Oops forgot to add I got 12 pints of bluberries for $9.95. Washed and put in the freezer to make jam at a later date.

  • Julie Walker August 27, 2018

    Brandy i admire you so much. People always say that there is no free lunch, and it is paid for by hard-working men like your husband. We should take advantage of our tax-paid benefits. The government wastes so much of our taxes here and in other countries. I was a teacher and I agree that the school food is fattening. i gained weight from eating at school. When I was in elementary school we had real homemade food which was delicious. Now they have frozen foods because they have to make breakfast and lunch so it is not "mom's cooking". I have recently started making homemade bread and was needing a bread knife. I rarely go to yard sales , but I did one day and found one for a dollar. I was thrilled. I try to donate unneeded things to non-profit thrift stores around here, and God blesses me when I need something. I have found some great books at the Dollar Tree. Sometimes I like to keep them, but I usually pass them on. I find books on Thrift books for a good price if I can't find them at the library. My son buys his college books online, but we try to rent them online at Chegg. They even let you send them back in the same box. We got two estimates for a new roof and they were $10,000 apart! We looked online for a reputable company and will save a lot. I used cardboard boxes under my mulch in my garden which was free. Now i am waiting on Lowes to have a sale on mulch for Labor Day. Thank you for sharing that Bed, Bath, and Beyond accepts expired coupons. I didn't know that. I love your blog!

  • Kim August 27, 2018

    Hi Brandi,
    My gardening group did a Basil trial this summer and we grew about 10 varieties of basils from seeds. One of them was Genovese Red Freddy (Baker creek seeds) which looks and tastes like Genovese basil, but is a lovely purple color. If you would like some of the remaining seeds to start some plants for transplanting, I would be happy to send you some.

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