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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

White Garden in Late September The Prudent Homemaker

I mended an item of clothing.

I harvested pears, a handful of tiny tomatoes, garlic chives, chocolate mint, and basil from the garden. I dried some basil for us to use throughout the year.

My mom and I went through her kitchen drawers for duplicates and unused items, and found several things that Winter can take with her to college, so we packed those away in the box I have started for her.

I used warm-up water from the shower to water potted fruit trees on the patio.

I try to make sure that all of my garden purchases are made at the lowest prices. Our local nursery has lower prices to start with on items than the big box stores (typically $1 to $2 lower per 1-gallon plants and $10-$15 lower on 5-gallon plants) and then they have sales on top of that. I watch their ads online (their sales run Fridays through Wednesdays) and I also know when things are generally on sale by month as well. I purchased some fruit trees on sale to replace those that have died in the garden. I purchased grass seed on sale to fill in the bare spots in the yard, which I can do when it cools down some more. I also purchased manure on sale to add to the garden and to use on the grass.  When I was there, the manager told me they would be having a Saturday in October where they will be giving a free viola plant to anyone who comes in! I typically don't shop there on Saturdays (I like to go during a weekday when it's quieter), but I will watch the ads online and make sure to stop by for my free plant (update: It's a buy any item get one free viola on October 7th).

I wear sandals here more than half of the year. I purchased two pairs of sandals on clearance; they should last me two years. I signed up for their app in the store to save an additional $10 off my purchase.

The aerator in our kitchen faucet completely disintegrated. My husband called the company to order a replacement. They said they would send him one for free!

My son changed out the air filters in the house so that the air conditioner run more efficiently.

Another son attended a free robotics class at the local library.

Fall gave us a beautiful preview by showing up on the first official day of fall! Temperatures will go back up starting on Monday, but for two days we were able to turn off the air conditioning completely and even turn off the fans those two days. On the other days, I opened the windows at 5 am and was able to keep them open until 10 a.m. each day before it reached above 79º in the house (we keep our air conditioner set at 79ºF).

I read the expected weather forecast for the next three months for the U.S. (you can read it here).  I'm planning my garden planting a little differently as it should be warmer here than usual (we normally don't even see a frost until December, so I'm not sure what this means for us this year). I'll plant more chard first and wait a bit longer for lettuce if I have to (I read the weather online each day and also check soil temperatures so that I can plant). I typically plant my fall garden the first two weeks of October, so I will watch and see what soil temperatures are to make sure it's not too hot to plant so that I don't waste seeds.

I resisted buying items I don't need that weren't part of my planned purchases. With one of the items that I was tempted to purchase (it was $2), I stopped to think about what I really wanted to buy that cost the same amount of money. This made it easier to walk away.

My husband and I enjoyed a date night at home, playing a card game together after the children were in bed.

I studied French online for free.


It's been a while since I've shared what I did to find joy during the week. This past week, my greatest joy was serving a refugee family in my city (I am SO glad that I have been studying French, as one member of the family speaks French--as a fourth language--and it has been invaluable to be able to communicate with this family.)  If you're looking for a way to serve others in your area, check out justserve.org.


What did you do to save money and find joy last week?



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  • Holly September 26, 2017

    Our town now has Family Dollar, Dollar General, and (drumroll) Dollar Tree. (While I'd love to have my favorite, the 99 Cents Only store, I am not holding my breath that they'll ever expand to Michigan. Sigh. A more realistic hope, I think, is for an Aldi to open less than 16 miles away.) While the third store was under construction, somebody wrote to the local paper, complaining that there was no need for it. But the Dollar Tree parking lot has been full since the store opened so, obviously, other residents don't agree. I scored on the summer clearance at one of the other dollar stores. There is going to be another baby in our family. I bought two outfits for the little dude and one for his "big" brother for $6 and change ($27 regular price). I have to find things on super sale to send as presents across the country, to make them worth the expense of sending. I also got three of the larger greenhouse-style covered seed starting trays for about $3.65 ($15 regular price). I just hope my brown thumbs turn green by next spring. We have been having record-setting warmth but, despite the humidity, the temperature has been dropping like a rock once the sun goes down so our house hasn't been getting too uncomfortable. I need the ceiling fan on for a couple of hours in the evening, that is all. It has been nice not having to run the furnace this month. I am continuing to plod through the Pimsleur Ojibwe language lessons I borrow from the library electronically. I am a visual learner so the going is very slow with an aural-only course. There are five or more dialects of Ojibwe spoken in North America. I have read that the speaker of one dialect can understand the others. I really hope that is true for second-language learners too.
    Have any of you seen the Allstate Insurance commercials where a wayward pet causes all sorts of damage like a house fire or a flood? This weekend, our neighbor didn't for once put her cute little dog's collar on that is needed for their Invisible Fence because it was such a hot day. The dog decided this was its long-awaited opportunity to explore the neighborhood on its own. It, whom I have never seen more than 30 feet from its front door, made the long dash across its front yard and highway with the neighbor's husband in hot pursuit. They both made it across the road (Speed limit 55 mph) safely but the little dog thought it was great fun to play tag in the next door neighbor's front yard. A kind woman driving by pulled over on the shoulder, off the road, parked, and got out, intending to help coral the dog. Somebody plowed into her parked car, pushing it into the ditch (and totalling it) before somehow getting into an accident with one or two other cars coming from the other direction. At least three cars were towed away, never to be driven again. Three people were taken to the nearest hospital to be checked out. They probably will be waking up sore for a few days.

  • Becky @ Becky's Place September 26, 2017

    Yikes! These kind of things happening are where the saying of "No good deed goes unpunished" must come from. Scary!

  • Jenny September 26, 2017

    Shouldn't laugh, but...

  • Holly September 26, 2017

    I was so sad to see the ambulance drive off with lights but no siren. But then the neighbor told me there were no obvious injuries. Whew! That's when I found everything to be more funny than sad. When I told my sister about this, she told me about the time her dog accidentally flooded her house. Since the helpful lady was legally parked, her deductible probably will be paid for by the person who got distracted, hit the parked car, and then overcorrected.

    I think I got caught by who/whom and used the wrong word-or autocorrect burned me again. And you "corral a dog." Can you tell I am not a rancher?

  • Jamie | Medium Sized Family September 26, 2017

    I always love to read about how others find joy. It helps with my own practice of gratitude! I found joy in a weekend camp out with my whole family. It was fun to reconnect, since we haven't seen much of each other lately.

    And your thought about what else costs $2 that you'd like to have is such a great practice. These days I remind myself that I'd love to be $2 closer to debt free than anything else. Every little bit helps!

    Here are the ways we saved this week: https://www.mediumsizedfamily.com/5-ways-weve-saved-money-week-93/

  • Laurie in AZ September 26, 2017

    Jamie, I like your mindset that you would love to be $2 closer to being debt free. Good to remember!

  • Jennifer O September 27, 2017

    For years we looked at things as how many panels of sheet rock or how many windows that would buy. That finally got my mother out of demanding I come home (1000 miles one way) for every holiday, bridal shower, baby shower, birthday party, housewarming, graduation, etc.

  • Jen G September 26, 2017

    I loved hearing about your service to the refugee family! A good reminder to me to check the justserve.org website more frequently!

    Living frugally in urban Seattle:

    - Weather is still warm and dry so we continue to ride our bikes around town and leave our car in the carport. We've spent less than $10 on gas in the last month! I'm mostly trying to preserve the life of our car which is almost ten years old and we bought used with a fair number of miles on it. Unfortunately, we are not very handy car mechanics so we buy Hondas, drive them sparingly and hope for the best!

    - Great finds at our neighborhood thrift store: four pairs of pants for my growing tweens (all brand name) and a fall sweater for me for $10. I replaced the buttons on the sweater with cuter ones in my stash and I can't wait to wear it when the weather chills.

    -My mom visited from Portland and brought apples from her tree. I'm sticking them in school lunches and will make an apple crisp or two.

    - My youngest son signed up for two free after school activities: A STEM club and the Ultimate Frisbee team.

    - I was paid to attend an education conference on Saturday and got a free lunch too! (but sadly, had to drive my car)

  • Cindy in the South September 26, 2017

    I have been eating a soft taco of beans and rice at night for supper. I ran out of tomatoes, and decided to add tomato paste, with a bunch of spices. It was fine. I also added sour cream, onions, and a little homemade ranch dressing to the taco. I continue to make bologna sandwiches for lunch, and eat raw carrots with peanut butter for a snack. I make "lazy" hash browns for breakfast. I chop up a potato and cook it in a cast iron skillet, with a little oil and salt, in the oven. When the potato is done, I add an egg, and turn the oven off, and put the skillet lid back on the food. It is ready in a couple of minutes and there is little mess. I did not go grocery shopping. I continue to keep my air conditioner off, even though it is 90 here during the day.

  • Jean September 27, 2017

    Cindy, I do the same thing with my breakfast and lunch. Smoothies for breakfast and soup or salad for lunch, depending on the season.It makes it so easy to shop,my list rarely changes much, and I do not have to waste time making decisions. Dinners do vary, not lot a whole lot. This way I use my garden produce and I have no waste!

  • Terri C September 30, 2017

    Cindi something I tried when I was doing a food challenge, was to mix canned diced tomatoes with raw chopped onion. This was a very good substitute for salsa or pico de gallo. So much so that when I find myself lacking fresh tomatoes to dice, I now turn to this simple little 'relish' to use on Mexican inspired dishes.

  • Samantha September 26, 2017

    These posts continue to be such an inspiration, and I've learned so much from your blog! It has truly been a blessing. This is my first time posting my frugal accomplishments, so here it goes!

    -I took my car in for an oil change and 200k mile tune up, and my mechanic said I needed a new timing belt and kit (which would've cost about $1000). Instead of approving the purchase right away on the phone, I asked to give him a call back and dug up the paperwork the previous owner gave to me. Buried in the stack was a receipt for the timing belt replacement! Taking a minute to sift through the file saved $1000. Since my mechanic didn't have record of the timing belt change on file, he simply recommended it because it should have been 'time' according to the number of miles the car had. Phew. I'm going to try and work with my neighbor to see if he can teach me how to change my oil next time and do some basic repairs.
    -Instead of buying a new (used) car, we've decided to keep this one and see how far we can take it. At 200k miles it's getting up there, but we routinely see the same car and year selling for $3k-$4k with over 280k miles on them (and still running).
    -I repaired a rug instead of pitching it and buying a new one. The stitching came undone in the wash but I was able to hand sew it with a similar color thread and you can hardly tell.
    -I asked my mother if we could do a fall clothing swap before we donate our items separately to the Goodwill. She got a nice pair of winter boots from me and I received two long sleeve shirts that fit nicely. It helps that we're the same size in shoes and most clothes!
    -Since using Brandy's brilliant methods of food storage, I was able to cook over two week's worth of food for my parents while my mother recovers from an eye surgery. I was also able to batch cook and made nearly a month's worth of freezer meals for our friends who are expecting their first baby in October. This came from my food storage purchased on sale and didn't cost anything extra. I used up foods that I needed to rotate out as well. I used Brandy's quiche, white bean soup, and white bean alfredo recipes in addition to others as well to help keep costs down. I also froze some of these meals for us at home when I'm too tired to cook.
    -I visited a discount grocer a town over at the beginning of the month, and they had organic free range eggs by the dozen for $0.99. This brand sells for $3.99 here usually. I bought 10 dozen and after all my cooking/baking/freezing this month I still have 2 dozen left in the fridge!
    -I mended some "unpaper" towels that I made from bath towels and a tablecloth to replace our paper towels in the kitchen. They work great!
    -I reorganized our basement pantry and food storage and took inventory. I have a much better idea where our gaps are and what we'll need to fill in for the winter.
    -I've started to make a list of items we need for winter (we live in the West and it hits us hard). I should've done this over the summer, but at least I can get a bit of a jump start with the rest of the garage sales and at the thrift stores.
    -I'm making a plan to finally put together our 72 hour kits based off of Brandy's and other's recommendations. The recent emergencies in Texas, Florida, Mexico and Puerto Rico are reminding me that this a priority.

    I hope everyone has a great week!

  • Holly September 26, 2017

    I killed two engines with broken timing belts. (The first broke a little prematurely and the second, in the used replacement engine, happened because I was too dumb to insist on a new timing belt in it so I would know when it would need replacing.) So, I had my mom replace her car's timing belt a bit early quite a few years ago. 100,000 miles later, we had the replace-it or risk-it decision to make like you. The car's trade-in value is only a few hundred dollars more than the timing belt cost but we decided to do it, hoping to get at least another year out of the car if not many more. I don't trust it enough to drive it out of towing distance to my favorite mechanic, but it has been good at getting us from point a to point b within thirty miles or so.

  • Melissa V September 27, 2017

    Our daughters little car is sitting dead in our drive due to a broken timing belt :/ It will cost more to put a new engine in it than the car is worth. For now she is driving my inlaws 2nd vehicle. Our son's first car also had to be scrapped due to a timing belt breaking. It used to be you could fix alot of things yourself, but now with all the computer tech in them, many fixes are beyond my hubby's skills (or strength) to do.

  • Southern Sarah September 26, 2017

    This week I pulled out 3 dinners from frozen meals.
    When I needed to use a PC instead of a MAC (which I have) I was able to use a friends laptop.
    Hung my sheets and 2 loads of laundry out on the line to dry instead of using the electric dryer.
    Pulled sweet potatoes from the garden.
    Kept my Costco bill to under 100$ for the month for food.
    Made bakes goods from the mixes I have in pantry.

  • TJ ~ TJs Sweet Home September 26, 2017

    Hi Miss Brandy! I am doing a little giveaway over on my Avon Lady TJ Facebook page if you would like to share it with your readers. It's a necklace and earring set. I thought of you & all your sweet readers that take the time to share their knowledge that I get so much out of week after week. It could be something they keep for themselves if they win, or give as a gift. Now off to reading this post! ~TJ

  • Mary Beth Danielson September 26, 2017

    It's been super hot here in Wisconsin the past few days; started right after we took the window a/c unit out of the office, of course. Today its supposed to start cooling down so yesterday I washed the outside of our windows on our 2-story house with the hose. It seemed like a good day to get drenched. Because of this blog, I will also be figuring out how to pickle my nasturtium pods, saving us the $2/year we spend on capers..... The rest is here: http://www.marybethdanielson.com/content/mindful-chickens-9-26-17

  • Marybeth September 26, 2017

    Hi to another Marybeth. There aren't that many of us.

  • Juls Owings September 27, 2017

    My best friend is JR High was Mary Beth.LOL

  • Mary beth Danielson September 27, 2017

    When I was in high school.. there were THREE Mary Beth's in my class. Born in the 50's; named after relatives....

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