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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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  • Megan Z. September 26, 2017

    I recently went on vacation with my parents. We were able to drive around in my dad's car so did not have to rent a vehicle. A friend from church let us stay at their vacation home so did not have to pay for any hotels. We were able to get into the National Parks for free as my parents have the Senior Pass (thanks to whomever mentioned this previously as my mom got hers for $10). We fixed several meals at the house so only ate out a few times. Overall it was a very frugal trip.

    Upon returning home I only picked up a few things from the grocery store and have been trying to eat from the pantry as much as possible. My husband had to have his wisdom teeth taken out so he has not been eating much and then only eating soup/mashed potatoes when he does eat.

    We have 1 more car payment plus paying a little extra and then both cars will be paid off. Unfortunately we now have the dental bill to pay off but if all goes as planned, should have it paid off in a few months.

    It has been very hot in Georgia (temperatures in the high 80's) so it does not feel like fall although some leaves are falling and starting to change colors. We may go apple picking this weekend anyway. I can't wait to make apple pie and other fall desserts. For now I'll burn my fall-scented candles!

  • Athanasia September 29, 2017

    Meghan, that sounds like an extra-enjoyable vacation...no big bills to pay when you get back home! What National Parks did you see?

  • Melonie K. September 26, 2017

    It has gotten slightly cooler in our area, so I'm excited to say that I was able to open the doors/windows 2 mornings and 3 evenings last week. Sunday night I was able to get the house down to 73F and it only went up 1 degree overnight. My daughter has a class in another town, which keeps us out of the house most of the day - we got home yesterday afternoon and the thermostat read 77F. I keep it set at 79F, so the AC didn't run the entire time we were gone. Woohoo!

    Received our "bill" from our Housing utility company - we came in under everyone else's usage again, so we will receive a rebate of the difference ($23) in a couple of weeks. I usually put the rebates straight into savings; yesterday I decided that I will save them up for a Sun Oven. Since our stove is natural gas, being able to switch to a Sun Oven or other outdoor cooking option would mean I would use even less than our neighbors (and get more back on the utility "bill") each month. All the better if I can pay for it with the rebates themselves, plus it is something I've wanted for years for our family preparedness efforts - to be able to use one anytime would be better.

    Took an acquaintance to the city for a medical appointment - she has a hard time driving that far and staying awake. That city has the closest Barnes & Noble, which I've wanted to go check out but am unwilling to use the diesel just for "fun". Instead we had a big outing where our kids (and we moms) got some time to visit during the commute, I helped her with childcare during the appointment, and we popped by the bookstore afterward. My son and I chose a few items and received 20% off with the member card my parents have. I did have an extra expense - we got home much later than expected and I was exhausted, so I ordered pizza delivery. I did, however, make sure to use coupons on the website, paid cash from our "kitty", and got points toward a free pizza in the future.

    My husband has continued riding his bike to work, saving gas in his car and getting plenty of exercise thanks to the hills between our house and his work building.

    Clipped the dog's nails at home. Normally I take her to the vet for this. While it is a fairly small charge, it is stressful for her no matter who does it - might as well save the cash and earn a skill for myself to boot.

    Attended a free tour of a local ranch with my family, hosted by the local food co-op. We have purchased meats from this rancher at the farmers market and were delighted to have this opportunity to visit their ranch and learn about their wind & solar systems and their desert-hardy animals (Criollo cattle and Navajo churro sheep). We toured their 100+ year old adobe home and learned about how they heat and cool without an HVAC system and thoroughly enjoyed their work shed, where they spin and weave wool from their sheep into rugs, blankets, and more. The representative from the food co-op supplied snacks and water; when she learned we had to get back on the road (the tour went over), she gave us an entire big bottle of water and bowls of food to share as a family. The ranchers graciously allowed us to take photos during the tour, which will serve us well as we plan to incorporate many of these passive and active solar options when my husband retires from the military and we own our own home. Our only expense was the diesel to get there in our truck.

    Borrowed multiple books from several libraries via Overdrive. One library purchased a book I recommended, based on a recommendation to buy it by a family member; they automatically placed a hold on it for me. I was able to download the book within days of their purchase, saving myself the cash ($12.99 for the ebook or $17.70 for hardcover per Amazon).

    Participated in a free preparedness challenge, which helped me assess our family's needs for this new area (we've only been here 4 months) and where I need to save up to stock up.

    Meals were cooked from the pantry and fridge (except the big city trip day), stretching out our need to go to the commissary several more days.

    Ordered some herbal "teas" online from a company that offers free shipping on all orders and reward points to save toward future purchase.

    Ordered some household cleaning and personal hygiene items online that the commissary here doesn't carry - discounted off retail and free shipping.

    When we went to the food co-op the prior weekend to sign up for the ranch tour, I picked up vitamins and supplements and used our monthly 5% member coupon on them. (Normally I go during their military discount day, but we were all sick then, so we missed it.)

    Had cold and allergy medicine on hand, so with all 4 family members sniffling, didn't "have to" go buy any medicines. I did choose to restock one cold syrup that was getting low, as I'd hate to be without if we need it again, but bought the store generic version for several dollars less than the name brand.

    Taught a parent-tot yoga class for our homeschool group while my kids participated in the PE class for older kids. Free class for everyone and I got a good workout too!

  • tina September 26, 2017

    It's fall ~~~ yay!

    * harvested tomatoes from my garden ~ made salsa and froze the rest.. too overwhelmed to deal with them right now :/
    * used some very very ripe bananas for banana bread
    * made an apple crisp with sale apples
    * my daughter is expecting in December and was gifted some very nice and useful items, also gifted more clothes that she can use which we shared with another family :)
    * rented a college textbook ~ the second one needed had no rental option :(
    * made crockpot chicken and dumplings for the first time ~ so good and easy!!
    * i'm thinking about trying to use my crockpot for dinner once per week
    * took my son to the eye glass place to get them fixed for free. Frustrated with these new glasses as he has only had them a few months and we've taken him back twice to get them repaired.
    * received a box of full size products to try in return for my review. Loved some, didn't others but it was fun to try them :)
    * I had a send a fax this week (who faxes anymore....LOL) anyway, I found a way to send a fax via my computer for free.

  • TJ ~ TJ's Sweet Home September 26, 2017

    Tina, would you mind sharing how you sent the fax via computer? I rarely have to send faxes anymore but when I do, it's a hassle. Luckily the UPS store is nearby that I can have faxes sent from but they charge a fee (understandable), and the gas money/wear and tear on our vehicle and my time, all add up. TIA!

  • Juls Owings September 28, 2017

    you have to have a dedicated phone line to use as server. Some companies will allow you to use your home line but charge more than UPS does. Check your phone company first before you fax....you tube has how to do it.

  • Stephanie N. October 01, 2017

    If you have a printer with a scanning option there are websites now where you can upload an image and they will e-fax what you need to the number. I had to do this a couple of months ago, the first fax was free as a promotion and then after that they would have charged around $1/page.

  • Laurie in central NC September 26, 2017

    My husband told me he'd seen our forecast was for a colder, wetter winter, so we'll see what that brings. My joy this week was spending time with him in a quick getaway to the NC mountains. While there, I was able to buy some pre-loved gifts...a hand carved helicopter for a great nephew, and two slate trays for food gifts for $10 total. I'm happy to be joining you and this wonderful community of folks here: https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2017/09/more-natural-dyeing-frugal.html

  • Roberta in So. Cal. September 26, 2017

    We've had several occasions in the past where Hubs contacted a company about a broken item, and at the company replaced/repaired it for free (ex: baseball glove, transom windows, sliding door handle). It never hurts to ask!

    Frugal Efforts:

    * Ate mostly vegetarian meals (including spaghetti w/ cannellini beans in red sauce on Monday when I was really tempted to just go buy fast food; unfortunately, I succumbed three other times).

    * Made bread, ginger snaps, and Italian salad dressing.

    * Harvested three kinds of lettuce; Roma, cherry, and yellow pear tomatoes; bell peppers; and an orange some critter knocked off our tree, which is now ripening on the counter--I hope! Made a tasty salad.

    * Collected eggs from our hens; we're getting anywhere from two to four a day.

    * While shopping at Sprouts, the manager of the butcher counter offered me a free link of sausage if I bought a link. I was already planning to buy one link, so I gladly accepted the second. Hubs and son were very happy, as we rarely have sausage.

    Joyful and Frugal:

    We attended a free jazz concert at the university where my husband works.

    For any of you who live near a college or university, I suggest you check out their websites for frugal entertainment opportunities. We've attended drama productions, music recitals and concerts, art exhibitions, hands-on music, history, and science days for kids, historical/literary exhibitions, and presentations/lectures on people such as John Muir (as well as sporting events). Most of these events have been free to the public, although a few we've enjoyed with a faculty discount. Also, our university offers alumni and student discounts (as well as faculty/staff discounts) for many of the activities they do charge for. I assume other schools do the same. It's worth looking into at any rate.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  • Andrea Q September 29, 2017

    I love cannellini beans, in part because they are a great non-dairy/cheap source of calcium. I never thought to put them in pasta sauce though. Thanks for the idea!

  • Jennifer September 26, 2017

    It is so hot in Maine right now, especially for the fall on the coast. Yesterday and today have been 90. And there hasn't been hardly any rain so my flowers are suffering terribly.

    I baked cookies to find joy and watched some videos about editing photos in Photoshop, which I'm having a lot of fun learning.

    I made BLT's for dinner using tomatoes and lettuce from the garden.

    Also, how is it possible that you're preparing Winter for college already?

    Also, how do you check your soil temperatures?

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 26, 2017

    Jennifer, she is taking online college classes now, plans to take the GED, and hopes to transfer once she has 24 credits of Independent Study classes. I went into more details in last week's post.

    I check my soil temperatures with a thermometer. You just need a thermometer that goes down to freezing temperatures and has a probe about 4-6" long. A meat thermometer will work, but not all go that low. Walmart carries one that does and it is about $5. I got the exact same one with a handful of other kitchen tools at a garage sale for $0.25.

  • katie September 26, 2017

    I would love to know your ideas on college in general. Will you send every child to college? How do you feel about student loans? With so much unemployment in the country and having no extra money, we are not telling our 4 kids to go unless they truly want to. If we had the money to help, we would, but we simply can't. This would be a great blog post if you could do it.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker September 27, 2017


    A post that answers most of your questions is written and is almost finished, actually. I need to get some photos for it and finish it up.

    I don't think that college is for everyone; for some, trade school might be better. We aren't fans of debt and both my husband and I received undergraduate degrees without incurring debt.

  • Ellie September 29, 2017

    Hi Katie, I bought my niece, who is a high school senior, a book called The Graduate Survival Guide from DaveRamsey.com It has a DVD in it and talks about going to school debt free and the importance of budgeting. We watched it together and it was VERY helpful in encouraging her to stay home and do community college for her "core" classes.
    While many people are blessed to have financial help from their parents for college, many families can't afford it. The book also encourages students to apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible, as well as to work while they attend classes. I wish the title of the book were different, however as most would be college students need this information by the beginning of their senior year, before they take on student loans or miss the opportunity to apply for scholarships.Hope this info. helps you out. :D

  • Laurie in AZ September 26, 2017

    Brandy, thank you for the weather link. It didn't make me happy that we will be unseasonably warm here in AZ, but at least I know what to prepare for!

    Frugal accomplishments – Week of 9/17/17
    • Received 2 free calendars in the mail.
    • Received a $5 Starbucks gift card from mortgage company we are working with.
    • Got a coupon for $10 off $10 off at JC Penney. When I went, they were having a great sale. I got 3 exercise shirts for $3.91 total. Receipt says I saved $74.38. 2 are for me, 1 is for my daughter for Christmas.
    • Usually I use 2 pumps of dish liquid for a sink of dishes. I tried just 1 and it worked perfectly.
    • I've decided to track how many items out of freezer I use. Items used: 6. Items added: 0. Ate the oldest items first. Dinners included grilled pork ribs with baked potato and corn on the cob, Leftovers soup, French dip with green beans and tater tots, bean burritos with salsa, jalapeno cheddar sausage with pintos and jalapenos and steak with baked potatoes and broccoli. We did 1 date night and ate out. Items off of pantry shelf: 7. Items added: 0. Was careful with my clearance items purchases.
    • Got my free yogurt and a free coffee drink from Kroger’s free download Friday.
    • Used free toiletries, coffee, tea and jelly
    • Canned 6 pints of tomatoes from the tomatoes my friend gave me a couple of months ago. I didn’t have time to can them then, so I stuck them in ziplocs and into the freezer.
    • Took Dad for our weekly lunch. Had my grandson with me. He had the idea to go to Village Inn as on Wednesdays, you get a free piece of pie with any other purchase. So we got our pie to go. He took his home with him and I got a piece for myself and one for my husband (my grandson’s piece). A nice treat. And since we went for brunch, it was less expensive.
    • Hubby didn’t pay for lunch 3 times this week. He brought his lunch on Monday, on Wednesday the company paid for pizza and salad at a going away party for another employee and then on Thursday, he ate leftover pizza and salad, so Wednesday and Thursday were even more frugal, as they were free!
    • Made $50 dollars babysitting my grandson.
    • Hung out 4 loads of laundry.
    • Found more wine on clearance. Same as I bought last week, but this time only $2.02 per bottle. It tastes good enough. I bought as many as I could as it keeps!
    • It cooled off here this weekend too, so we were able to open the windows for a few hours. Temps will be going back up, but it is nice while it is lasting.
    • Wrote up my meal plan for this week.

    Have a wonderful Autumn week, everyone!

  • Wyoming Gal September 27, 2017

    I went to the same sale at JC Penney with my $10 off coupon. I bought a pair of dressy slacks, a pair of exercise shorts and a pair of chino shorts for my grandson. I spent $1.98 for items originally $102. Of course I had to drive to the "big city" to do this (Billings, MT), although I was running other errands and having a day out. I listened to a Geraldine Brooks book on CD from the library during the drive.

  • Laurie in AZ September 28, 2017

    That's fantastic! Love those deals!

  • Marcia R. September 29, 2017

    My sister now has 6 children, and 29 grands and great grands. She loves those $10 off $10 coupons---she will shop every single day if necessary to make sure each of them has a holiday gift from her! As a widow, she has a limited budget and she makes the most of all those coupons! I don't always shop with mine, but if nothing else is needed, I will buy underwear or socks as you know eventually those wear out!

  • Nina September 26, 2017

    Brandy, a long while back you had written about the British series, Home Fires and I greatly enjoyed watching that for free. A show recommended to me was Back In Time For Dinner, also from the UK. Have you seen the show online? A family's home is redecorated to a particular decade and the family eats the foods of that era, while dressing in the clothes of that time as well, with support people also providing additional education on such matters as rationing, home appliances, etc. I can send the link if you would like.

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