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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

August Foliage The Prudent Homemaker

The few tiny flowers to be had in the garden right now: Siam Basil flowers, Peppermint flowers, and Honeysuckle


This post contains affiliate links.

We sent three of our children to public school this past week for the first time, which was not at all frugal. Besides the hundreds in school supplies that are required (different from what we normally use and already had on hand, including classroom supplies of things like tissues and dry erase markers), I had to pay for their elective classes ($25 each), buy a backpack and three lunch boxes, buy new watches, buy earbuds with a microphone, and purchase shoes (they are not allowed to wear sandals at school).  There are yearbook fees($45 each), a health class fee ($15), media fees ($20 each), and field trips to pay for as well.

This certainly changes my financial needs and my schedule, and will definitely require some changes in planning lunch ahead of time.

As this was a totally last-minute decision, I wasn't prepared for lunches, and I was so busy with extra school stuff that there wasn't time to go to the store. I still managed to put together lunches using what I had on hand.

I cut a large Armenian cucumber from the garden and picked some cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. To go with them,  I made some ranch dressing dip with plain Greek yogurt, onion powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley. This was enough for several days for those going to school as well as those of us who stay home (these cucumbers are huge). I sent almonds, dried fruit, and leftovers in lunches. I made cookies and macaroni and cheese for lunches as well. To make it easier, I made a large amount of homemade macaroni and cheese for part of our lunch at home one day, making enough for leftovers for lunches for everyone (including those at school) the next day.

When it gets colder, I'll send soups, chili, and rice and beans, and leftovers, which are our normal lunches. I purchased two of these Thermos containers with folding spoons for that time; I already had some but this will make enough for those leaving along with my husband and oldest daughter, who already take leftovers in them for lunch. (My eldest daughter takes college classes online but goes with my husband to his office to work on them most days).

I also bought some of these reusable ice packs to keep lunches cold. Since I didn't have any this week, we just sent ice in bags with the cold items.

I am researching bento boxes that will fit in their lunch boxes, which will mean we won't need to use any plastic bags.

I picked pears from the garden. They ripen off the tree, so I'll be able to use these in lunches next week.

My daughter had shared a bite of homemade bread at lunch one day at school and the girl she shared it with asked her if her mom owned a bakery! She brought another piece the next day to share with the girl. I thought this was a bit funny because it was a loaf that didn't rise properly, as I pulled it from the oven a bit too soon on the first morning they went to school.

We made arrangements for the children to take the bus. It took a few days (and was tricky with children at two different schools starting at the same time) before they were approved to ride the bus. Having them take the bus will make it so that we can continue to be a one-car family, reduce wear and tear on the car, and not add to our gas needs.

I read three Hamish Macbeth e-books from the library.

My husband cut my hair.

One of my daughters is taking a beginning orchestra class. My mom had a violin that she had purchased for a framing example in her old store. My daughter is using that violin, so we don't have to pay to rent one. 

I was able to purchase the backpack and lunch boxes on sale.

I took advantage of a spend $50 on household goods get $15 off sale to purchase the required tissues and paper towels for school, combining that with some borax and bleach for the house to reach the required $50 total (We will use some of the paper towels as well to drain fried potatoes).

The watches we purchased were inexpensive ones from Walmart ($7.99 and $15.99).

I collected leek seeds from the garden.

Hamish Three Months The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  • Karen August 21, 2018

    It's been a long time since we've made it - we had a batch we made when she was two and it lasted for three years! I need to find a different recipe - I googled one in a hurry yesterday morning. It was very different than the ones I'm used to and it's too sticky. She was using it while spending time at my office yesterday afternoon - fortunately I made her bring her art mat to put down on the table! I'm used to recipes that call for a cup of flour and a cup of salt, but they are often drying to hands (and she has sensitive skin). This one took far less salt and I wonder if that made the difference.

  • Jeananne August 22, 2018

    Try this play dough recipe. The Kool-aid makes it colored and scented. It won't stain your hands. It's very smooth, lasts forever and doesn't need refrigeration. My grandson wants to make it every time he comes to my house (once a week)!

  • Athanasia August 21, 2018

    Homemade slime is fun also. Have not done that for years. I think it was just cornstarch and water and a little food coloring?

  • Lea Stormhammer August 20, 2018

    WOW! Big changes for you and your family, Brandy. I hope the transition is going well and that the children are enjoying their new adventures at school. Your photo of Hamish is delightful - he's growing so fast! Thanks for sharing.

    We currently send our children to a private school and are looking at charter school for high school (our children's school only runs through middle school). I always laugh when people say that we need to be careful because high school is expensive - we've been paying tuition for school since the children were in preschool so by comparison it will feel very inexpensive! Elective classes cost something here too, though they used to be included in our taxes. Times change, I guess.

    Our school started charging a $2 fee at the beginning of the year for students to have access to a microwave at lunch. The key card activates the microwave (i.e. unlocks the key screen for use) and the money goes to replace the microwave when it needs that. I love being able to send leftovers for lunch!

    Here's the link to our frugal happenings this past week: http://lea-intherefinersfire.blogspot.com/2018/08/frugal-friday-week-33-of-52.html
    A couple of highlights: lots of garden produce including tomatoes and winter squash and a little update of things that happened this summer.

    Have a wonderful week everyone,

  • Lea,

    The Thermos containers are great. My husband already takes his lunch in one of them. You put hot water in it and swirl it around. Then you add your hot food. Come lunchtime, your lunch is HOT. We have used our containers many times before, so getting a couple more will help the rest take hot meals. For those who don't have a microwave option, these are awesome.

  • Lea Stormhammer August 21, 2018

    We actually have one of these but every time we've used it, it has vacuum sealed itself and we've had to let it cool down before we could open it at all! I wonder what I did wrong! :D


  • Tiffany August 20, 2018

    Wow! What a big change for your kiddos! I agree about the crazy class fees for public school here. You lucked out on the yearbook cost though.. when our oldest was in high school, the "early bird" price was $75. She never wanted a yearbook, so we didn't have to pay it. LOL

    It wasn't a frugal week for us... unexpected vehicle repairs have us scrambling to cover costs a bit. I'm blessed to have a friend that is incredibly knowledgeable in repairing cars (and has a shop/garage with a vehicle lift) at his house, so he's doing the work for us at no cost - other than parts. My husband's motorcycle is also out of commission at the moment (he rides this most of the time because it costs less to use) so he's been driving *my* minivan. I've been "homebound" since Saturday, and it's been nice. LOL

    After my girls start their school lessons for the day, I'm going to do a detailed inventory of our pantry, food storage, fridges and freezers. I know my grocery/household supply budget has been out of control this summer. With the Christmas season (rapidly) approaching, I need to get a better handle on things.

  • Carolyn August 21, 2018

    An inventory and reorganization of the pantry just went on my todo list this week as well. You make a really good point about getting a handle on things before upcoming expenses arrive which for me are always greater in the second half of the year. I think knowing what you have and where to find it is one of the best things you can do to stay within your budget.

  • Jo August 20, 2018

    Public school here in our county charges no fees for electives, health, or media. I'm just astounded that that is required at your local schools. Wow. The kids here can wear sandals to school and don't need watches or earbuds (although most have earbuds already -- they seem to sprout out of every kid's ears). High school and middle school do have a yearbook cost, and extra-curricular activities like team sports or cheerleading, can be very expensive. The seniors take a "senior trip", usually to New York City, which is costly, but they do fundraisers to help parents out. Even so, only about a tenth of the class actually goes on the school trip. The long list of school supplies for every grade is always a killer, though. I'll never forget the year my daughter and her classmates each had to bring a roll of toilet paper to school, to help the school supply the bathrooms the last 3 months of the year when funds ran out.

    That is a darling baby picture! He is such a cutie! What big eyes he has.

    I am still painting at my house, but the end of one painting project is in sight. I need to get paint matched for yet another painting project, soon. They seem to have all come at once.

    I've really been doing well on using leftovers. I hope this trend continues.

    I trimmed my bangs some more -- I didn't trim enough last time so I needed to do it again.

    I continue to use the free version of Every Dollar to track my budget.

    I continue to wait very impatiently for an end to the suffocating heat, bugs and humidity that is Florida summer.

  • Earbuds are required to use the Chromebook, and for my son's geography class they have to have ones with a microphone in order to make an interactive Google map. It sounds like a good class! The teacher has been to 45 countries, which I think is fantastic for a geography teacher.

    Watches aren't needed for school necessarily, but my children were in need of new watches and now they take the bus, so making sure they are on time is a priority.

    Everyone wears sandals here most all year-round, so no sandals was a surprise with our heat.
    They can't carry a backpack between classes (so odd to me) but some of their classes allow them to have water in the class. It's very different to me!

  • Heather August 20, 2018

    My son's new school does not want the children to bring drinks into the classroom. I encourage him to hit the water fountain between classes because I don't want him dehydrated! We were not allowed to walk him in on his first day even though he had his backpack, lunch box and two big bags of school supplies. You're right, some things are just super different and don't always make sense.

  • Athanasia August 21, 2018

    I notice a lot of children don't wear watches anymore as the cell phone gives them the time. In our private school some children do have cell phones in the high school, a few even in the middle school. But they have to keep them in their back pack and cannot remove them. They can carry backpacks around.

    I have not had anyone in the public high now for 4 years. Not sure of their rules anymore. We do in our church school have quite a restrictive dress code, in some peoples opinion. Girls need to wear dresses or skirt outfits and the length must be to the bottom of the knee cap or longer. Grade school girls wear shorts under their dresses due to playground play. Boys wear collared shirts. No logos other than the school's are allowed on clothes, backpacks, notebooks etc. No cartoon characters, no sweatpants. No sleeveless tops for girls. Sandal type shoes are OK for girls when the weather deems appropriate but not flip flops. As we do have non church children that attend we allow minimal makeup and jewelry for those girls, as long as not distracting. Girls are requested to have their hair up in a bun or pulled back in a pony tail or braid. Our girls of course are used to having their hair up and covered, but it is not forced on the others.

    One of the items on our church school supply list is typing paper. Each student brings in one ream and the high schoolers 3. Also a tub by each student of disinfectant wipes. No trapper-keepers. I remember the public schools did not like those either. I think it was the velcro ripping sound maybe?

  • Karen August 21, 2018

    Jo - thank you for mentioning EveryDollar! I've been looking for something to replace my clunky Excel budget spreadsheet and I keep forgetting to check out their free version. It's exactly what I need!

  • Kelly August 20, 2018

    A couple other things I did to save money and be eco-friendly was to make my own beeswax wraps. I'll link the tutorial that I used below. I just used whatever scraps of cotton that I had around the house and bought one small bag of beeswax pellets at michaels with a coupon. They work great. Just hand rinse in cold water to clean. To use, just roll in your hand for a minute and viola!

    I also made a bunch of reusable bags in different sizes. traditional sandwich size, the size of the store brand snack size and some half that size (so they're a small square). I used the PUL cloth diaper material and bulk roll of zipper. The PUL can be expensive, but I found the cheapest way to buy it is at Joann's with a coupon and in the 3pk, not by the yd.
    I just made my own pattern so I don't have a link, but there are plenty on pinterest. I've had mine for 6 years now and they still look and work as though I just made them. I used pinking shears to cut the fabric and then just did a basic seam. They work great for things like cut up oranges. The only thing that hasn't worked well for me is watermelon, all other melons have been fine. For snack things like crackers, they only stay fresh for the day so just a heads up.

    To clean I just turn them inside out and wash them by hand, then hand them up to dry. Usually every other week, I will throw them in the washer with my other kitchen towels including the dryer and they're still fine.

  • PJGT August 20, 2018

    Having experienced all forms of schooling from private to public to homeschooling and even boarding school, I fully understand the scrambling involved with the transitions. Am saying prayers for new routines to be established quickly.

    Today my son and I start back east for the school year. This year's goals are to pay off some debt. I am looking forward to recovering from the family economic depression that cost us so. We will visit my elderly parents on the way back.

    These past two weeks have been a blur, but here are our frugal accomplishments. We opened our home to a new friend for a week, and had one of my daughter's friends from high school visit. This meant that I had to be quite inventive as we needed to stop buying groceries and start putting money away for our drive back. Accomplished!

    Because of construction next door, we now have wood drying to be split next summer. It is finally a relief to be preparing ahead. Having grown up in a farm, I am always looking at least 2 years ahead.

    I did not finish all of my summer list, so will be taking some mending, sewing and studying back with me. It was surprisingly much more time consuming to unpack and get this house in order. It was my priority and it is accomplished! This past week when I should have been a busy bee, I was not feeling well (better now) and was showing our guest around the National Parks. Free with a park pass. We waited to renew our pass till we needed to and have managed to get it through next summer as well!

    Frugality, we went out for a stargazing party my son planned. He has some serious telescopes and we enjoyed a free evening together.

    We have been mainly eating out of the freezer and cupboards. I will be looking through our stored food and will be bringing some of it back for this winter. I took advantage of some free food this summer and have a box of potatoes to take as well. I scooped up 4 unwanted eggplant and my husband will be slicing, frying and breading them for the freezer. We will eat them this Christmas. My husband was given a gift certificate (for helping a friend) to one of our favorite restaurants and we will save that for Christmas as well.

    We are celebrating our son's birthday today (since we are all together) and I was able to buy him a number of used items to wrap. We are making homemade icecream in the icecream maker using free heavy cream. Yum!

    My new glasses broke. I was so sad as it took me a long time to save for them. My husband was able to fix them, and I will check on a warranty when I return next week. Otherwise, I'll have to replace the frames for 200.00.

    We have watched many things on Netflix as it is my daughter's account and we don't have access at school either.

    Happy frugal-ing

  • Thank you so much for your prayers.

    Have you tried using Zenni Optical for glasses? A complete pair with frame and lenses can be as little as $12.95. Shipping is $4.95. If you have more specific needs lenses can run a bit more, but that's what mine cost me. I go through Ebates too to get a little cash back on the purchase as well.

  • PJGT August 20, 2018

    I wish I could! I looked into them; however I have an usual prescription that requires special lightweight lenses, a reading prescription and transition lenses. My mother has an degenerative eye disease that I am avoiding which necessitates transition lenses. Did I mention my vanity? I also like to have them look nice, and most of the cheaper styles just don't. When I wore contacts more, I ordered the less expensive less attractive styles, but this time I saved and spent the extra hundred dollars.

  • SusanL August 22, 2018

    Hello PJGT, I also have reading, prescription transition lenses and break glasses frames often. It has been almost a year and I have had three frames. It seems that I initially paid about $200 for one regular pair and one prescription reading sunglass pair. Every time I break the hinge, they just give me new frames AND they are cute! So if you are near a Costco - this might be the way to go. They also have scratch resistant lenses at no extra cost which is delightful.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood August 20, 2018

    Your baby is so cute! And I'm impressed that you were able to send your kids off to school with so little prep time -- that can be a lot of work!

    My week was pretty full too. I managed to get some frugal things done anyway.
    - I made Smashed Chickpea Salad, stuffed into mini croissants, along with some homegrown baby lettuce (http://approachingfood.com/smashed-chickpea-salad-stuffed-croissants/) . This is an inexpensive source of vegetarian protein, and even my meat-loving DH ate it happily. Yay!
    - I cut swiss chard, baby lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, and oregano from my balcony garden. I posted a picture of my garden produce in the link above. I used some of the rosemary to make rosemary roasted potatoes, ate the lettuce in a salad, stir-fried the swiss chard, and fried up the green tomatoes. I dehydrated the basil, parsley, thyme, mint, oregano, and remaining rosemary, and added it to my pantry.
    - Using the BUNZ trading app, I traded some seasickness bracelets that my husband got me to help with morning sickness (but that didn’t work for me) plus some of the digital currency that the app uses, for a sealed bag of flaxseed meal. This will be perfect to make replacement ‘eggs’ when baking. I also traded a book I no longer wanted for a 6-pack of San Pellegrino limonata (perfect to help with my on-going morning sickness), and traded another book for a mascara. I will likely gift the mascara to a family friend.
    - I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 gc to Starbucks.
    - My work had a dinner out and paid for everyone. I ended up not eating my main course (just ate the sides, as I also ate appetizers) and brought home the main course. The DH ate it for his dinner. Two dinners for the price of none!
    - I made the fried rice recipe that Rhonda posted about a few weeks ago. Delicious, plus it used up some frozen vegetables that I had.
    - I made a triple batch of laundry detergent.
    - I redeemed some Scene points (I had about half the amount needed, and the company sent me a temporary top-up as an incentive to use them) to send my husband to the movies for free. He likes to watch scary movies and I do not, so I told him to choose a scary movie that I would not like, as I’d rather be resting at home. Free movie and happy husband!
    - I cat-house-plant-sat for a friend and was paid in cash.
    - I used the Amazon giftcards from Swagbucks that I have been saving for many months, plus my cat-house-plant-sitting earnings, to buy a number of items that I had been wanting: a food slicer; a dress for my baby shower; some Barkeeper’s Friend polish, so that I can scrub things (pregnancy: it makes me want to both scrub all the things and rest, at the same time); a cookie cutter for my baby shower; charcoal toothpaste, and bentonite clay. I’m hoping the latter two items will heal/address some of the dental issues I’ve developed due to pregnancy. The latter two items will be frugal if they save me dental care down the road. I’m pleased that I found a way to get some ‘wants’ without impacting our day-to-day budget.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  • Vivian Blossom August 20, 2018

    Where can I find the Rhonda's fried rice recipe? Thanks for helping!

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