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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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  • Karen August 28, 2018

    Brandy, I hope you are settling into your new routine and that the kids are enjoying school. I'll continue to pray for you!

    I had a fairly frugal week. I've really cut back on my television watching and mindless game playing over the last month or so, and it's made me a more productive person in general.

    I washed Ziploc bags. I harvested apples, onions, carrots, cilantro, hot peppers, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and one regular tomato from the garden (will my tomatoes never ripen?????). I made and froze applesauce (I really need to get the canner out) and gave a big box of apples to my sister-in-law. I ordered fall garden seeds from a new (to me) company that offered free shipping, and they gave me an additional seed packet free because I was a new customer. I'm going to rip out my nonperforming plants and get my fall garden started.

    I made this week's menu plan using mostly what was in the house. I had another $10 off $40 coupon for Fred Meyer, and got the rest of what we needed plus a few things I could do with sale+coupon. Saved 26% with coupons on that shopping trip! I'm at the end of the month and the end of the budget, but I probably just need to pick up a gallon of milk later this week. I took my daughter out to lunch with a coupon the restaurant sent me. Yesterday we returned cans and will use the money from that to pay for our "first day of school lunch" today (she has a half day on the first day of school, and it's our tradition to go to a restaurant we've never been to before).

    I chaperoned the Girl Scout Troop's trip to a water park, and the troop paid for my admission (it was their "fun choice" for what to do with part of their cookie money (they also use some for a service project every year). We all brought our lunches and drinks so we didn't spend any money while we were there.

    My daughter's school gave me a t-shirt and a pop socket (for my phone) because I serve on their school board. I was going to buy a new shirt anyway, so that saved me $20! We also got a free dinner at the back to school picnic.

    My daughter wanted some contact paper for a project. I forgot to buy it twice, then discovered an unopened roll we already had at home. Good thing I have a bad memory! Yesterday she made a doll dress for one of her dolls from fabric scraps she had. She's been wanting to learn to use my machine and that was a great intro project.

    Over the last month I've tracked every penny we spent and we are in budget. Last week I set up our September budget using the free version of EveryDollar. I've been using a spreadsheet but this will help me track on the fly because I can use the app. This will be helpful when I pay cash for things and don't get a receipt, like at the farmer's market. Looking forward to using it! We have many bills increasing in September (seems like everything went up at once!) so I'm going to challenge myself to lower our grocery budget by using what's in the house and shopping for sales and at less expensive stores to make up for it.

    I hope that everyone has a wonderful, frugal week!

  • Bobbie August 28, 2018

    I've been working on teaching my two little ones about food and electricity waste- to not take what we won't eat, turn off lights etc. Sometimes it sticks :) my 4 year old got after me for turning on a light in a sunlit room- I was proud! Ha!

    I was able to consolidate my student loans after 10 years of paying. I have a lower interest rate and payment, saving us $400 a month! We will continue to pay extra to these loans to pay them off sooner, but the extra financial freedom monthly that it brings now will allow us to better provide for our kids. I'm so thankful for that and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Things have been so tight.

    I menu planned, packed all my lunches for work, and baked breakfast muffins from scratch with squash from our garden. Add enough cinnamon and they have no clue there is a veggie in there. :p

    My mother-in-law will be out of state this weekend, and we plan to spend the weekend at her house pet sitting. This also allows us to swim in her pool, use her hot tub, Etc. What's great about this is It's like a vacation for us. Plus, the kids love going to Mimi's house and they always sleep so well after swimming! We want to take advantage of the pool while the weather is still nice.

    Our family drinks a lot of sparkling water. We have talked about maybe getting a SodaStream to make our own sparkling water. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm not sure that there will be a cost savings in the long run...and it seems like a lot of money up front!

  • Karen August 28, 2018

    We have a SodaStream and love it! We don't use the syrup - most of it just doesn't taste right to us. My daughter and I drink it plain or with a splash of lemon or lime juice. My husband puts the Crystal Light packets in. If you search online there are ways to hack it to hook it up to a larger CO2 tank and make it more affordable. We haven't done that - I just use lots of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 28, 2018

    I use a sodastream! It was a wedding gift to me 5 years ago and is still going strong. My husband calculated the cost if refills versus buying bottled soda water (even on sale) and said that in the (semi) long run, one came out ahead. I drink soda water for health reasons (it helps with some dental issues I have) and personal preference and love that I can turn tap water I to carbonated water (in Italy, vending machines sell both still water and carbonated water -- I thought that was very neat!) so easily. You could probably find a second hand one somewhere -- it's the cartridge refills that are expensive. But you can return the empty cartridge to get a discount on the next cartridge.

  • Ava August 28, 2018

    We, too, received a SodaStream as a gift, and we use it all the time. My husband loves his club soda/sparkling water, so this has been great for us. Like Karen, we rarely use the syrup and stick with lemon or lime, or frozen strawberries or raspberries for a pleasant change. I like the idea of Crystal Light packets, I'd never thought of that. Target used to carry SodaStream products and took the used tanks for a discount on new ones, but I don't know if they still do. Bed/Bath/Beyond still does, fortunately.

  • Jennifer O. August 28, 2018

    I love my soda stream. I use homemade fruit syrups and juices rather than most of the commercial syrups. It makes entertaining easy as I don't have to stock a bunch of different sodas for a cocktail party.

  • PJGT August 28, 2018

    The Frugalwoods blog has a post on the CO2 hack. I want to have my son do this for me when we have time and money. I love making the carbonated water at home!

  • Lynn September 16, 2018

    I purchased a Soda Stream and ended up giving it away. It gave me heartburn when I used it?? Weird, because I can drink Perrier or Pellegrino and not get heartburn.

  • LynnDinKY August 28, 2018

    This past couple of weeks have been a mix of frugal, not so frugal and anti-frugal.
    I have canned grape jelly, and tomato jam.
    I received two large zucchini which I had planned on using for bread but I ended up having to give them away.
    My dh's brother-in-law passed away suddenly on the 20th. They live in PA while we are in KY. Thankfully we had money in the savings account for the trip. So Thursday morning we headed up there and left the kids behind. The eldest is 20 and more than able to stay alone. The other two are younger and went to stay with my parents who live in town. This was a frugal thing in itself as it would have cost us more in food and hotel rooms. While we were there we ate with the family as much as possible. His sister had people bringing in food and there was a meal after the funeral. We had a total shock in the price of funeral. They had chosen to go with cremation, so they had to rent a casket for the ceremony. That was $950 !! For two days. We couldn't believe it. It's one of the reasons I want a family graveyard. Our personal thoughts are to toss us in a cardboard box and throw us in the ground. We don't care. The ceremony itself was by the hour. So his sister had two hours. One for visiting and one for the ceremony. No flowers for the casket and that was it. We had actually thought about buying our caskets now and storing them. and I had thought about making a Pall to use instead of an expensive flower spray. Plus, a Pall can be used over and over again for other members of the family.
    Our brother in law passed away instantly while mowing the grass. My dh replaced her mower because of the circumstance. ( they gave the old one to her church) The new mower was a four wheel drive push mower. All she'll have to do is walk behind it. This mower is usually priced at $400-500. They had marked it down to $225 for the end of the season sale. My dh flagged down the manager and was able to get it for $175. What a incredible blessing!
    In other news, the dryer broke. Dh fixed it. the washer Broke...Dh fixed it. The Dishwasher broke the day before our trip....The Dh worked on it and ran it last night but I have yet to do a full load in it. But it's probably fixed. LOL .
    I teach a class of girls at church on Wed. nights. a dozen little hungry things. I was buying snack cakes but it was getting old real quick. One week I had made cookies, which they loved. I was thinking about something cheaper and was in Sam's club and remembered that you had made popcorn. So I bought a bag of popcorn. My own kids have been going at the popcorn like there is no tomorrow. I'll be trying the popcorn on my class this week. I'm hoping that they love it too!

  • LynnDinKY August 28, 2018

    I forgot some other frugal things. My sil wanted to get rid of some of her husbands things. She gave dh a HUGE bag of socks. She gave me Two water bath canners, a canning utensil set and 4-5 dozen pint canning jars with rings. She gave my youngest a new winter coat.
    plus on our way home we stopped a flea market that I've always wanted to stop at. I found a small Le-Creuset teapot in Caribbean blue for 50 cents. Couldn't believe it.
    I think that's it.

  • Mary August 28, 2018

    I so sorry to hear of your sudden lost.

  • LynnDinKY August 28, 2018

    Thank you.

  • Jennifer O. August 28, 2018

    Sorry to hear about your brother in law. You sound like you're having a season like mine with things breaking - at least your husband is able to fix things - what a blessing. Hang in, it will get better.

  • LynnDinKY August 28, 2018

    Thank you. Yes, sometimes it seems like everything happens all at once. We just keep plugging away knowing that it will end eventually.

  • Jeannie August 30, 2018

    Lynn, so sorry about your loss. It had to be difficult.

    A suggestion about feeding the girls on Wednesday night at church. They may be hungry because they have gone straight from school to church, so, of course, they need something. On the other hand, they may be skipping dinner because you are giving them a treat. I would suggest offering them a healthy snack like carrot and celery sticks, or maybe apple slices. Test them and see if they really are hungry. I learned this from my children. They were always hungry if there was cake on the table, but not interested if it was vegetables.


  • Athanasia August 31, 2018

    Lynn, I am sorry to hear of the loss of your brother in law.

    I was thinking the same as Jeannie re' the girls at your church group and snacks. Try them out with the popcorn or some vegetables. If they are hungry they will eat it. Children will most likely take a sweet when offered whether hungry or no.

  • LynnDinKY August 31, 2018

    Jeannie and Athanasia, Thank you for your kind thoughts. As for the girls, some of them really do come to church HUNGRY. Sweets are always wanted just like both of you said, but so not needed. I tried the popcorn last week and 8 out of 9 loved it. That ninth one is my granddaughter and she's fed before church. ;) When I see a sale on vegetables or fruit I'll grab them and see if the girls will eat them. Thanks for your help.

  • Jeannie September 01, 2018

    It is a special person who can teach Bible classes on Wednesday evening especially after working all day. I am in bed asleep before most churches even begin.

  • LynnDinKY September 03, 2018

    Jeannie, I'm a stay at home mom with two home schooled teens. I don't work outside the home. Even still, I'm dragging the next morning cause those little girls wear me out. LOL I would love to be in bed by 10 every evening, but Weds. nights I'm just pulling in the driveway at 10 pm. And my own teenagers are night owls at this stage in life. (which drives me nuts;).)

  • Pamela B. August 28, 2018

    Brandy, I have enjoyed your blog for several years now. I discovered it during a particularly trying period in my life, when extreme frugality was a necessity due to some dire financial circumstances. Our situation has improved significantly, but we still practice frugality as a way of life. It is important to us to be good stewards of our resources and avoid waste. I really enjoy reading about what you do, and the comments shared by other readers. I believe the purpose here is not only to share ideas & suggestions, but also to encourage & uplift one another. I'm sorry to hear there was negativity.

    I haven't commented in a while, so my frugal accomplishments for the last couple of weeks were cleaning out & organizing our chest freezer. We divided up & cooked some of the larger cuts of meat that were getting close to expiration, rather than letting them be "lost" in the bottomless pit of the freezer until they went bad or got freezer burn (which admittedly we have done in the past), so I consider that a frugal win. I also brought home several free grocery items left over from an event held at my office. Most people I work with are not very frugal and also do not like leftovers, and there were several things that were going to be thrown away, including an unopened loaf of bread & pack of buns, a large quantity of unsalted butter, and some other random assorted items. I tried to talk several coworkers into taking them home, but nobody would accept, so I did. It will all get used & not go to waste. I used several free item coupons at Kroger to get some cheese & frozen vegetables (they periodically mail me a stack of paper coupons, which usually includes 2-3 free items). My husband found a new leather jacket, couple of sweaters & some dress shirts for work for a bargain at an estate sale in our neighborhood. On our way out, the cashier told us to take whatever we wanted from the garage as they were getting ready to close the sale, so we got a large box of free kitchenware including 2 full sets of drinking glasses. We kept a few items, but gave most of it to a friend who can use it.

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