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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


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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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  • Heidi Louise August 20, 2018

    New adventures for everyone! Whatever your private reasons are, (and they are private reasons, especially as relates to individuals in your home), from being a reader for about a year, I have no doubt you are acting prudently for your family right now, as is the name of your blog.

    Is your charming baby's name pronounced "HAY-mish" or "HAM-ish"? I have read it but never heard it spoken.

  • TJ @ TJ's Sweet Home blog August 20, 2018

    Many changes going on it sounds like! I have been accompanying my son and grandson on their bts excursions over the past couple of weeks. It's a lot! And yes, can be pricey for sure. Our public schools started back today.

    Does your children's school(s) have a "free lunch" program? If they do, and you qualify, that could take a big load off right there. Both money and time wise. When mine were in school, many years ago, and I was a struggling single mom, they could go a bit early for breakfast as well.

    I will join the others in the curiosity of what led to the decision to have the children attend public school, if you don't mind me/us asking? I guess it's only natural that we would be interested. I have done it both ways and can see the value of each.

    I'll keep y'all in my prayers for a smooth transition.

  • Paula August 20, 2018

    This is a big change for your family! I am curious to know what factored into your decision?

  • Megan August 20, 2018

    What a gorgeous baby boy! You are a powerhouse of a mom. I don't know how you manage to bake bread in the mornings before school along with packing lunches and home schooling the rest of the kids. My kids are also in the Clark County School District and it may be worth looking into signing up for the free lunch program. With such a large household you may very well qualify and it would free up some money and time. At the end of this year or next your orchestra student will probably be invited to go on a class trip to Disneyland or Universal Studios. That is running us about $300 per kid every year and the band teacher says it's not optional since they need to perform all together. As far as school supplies go, I've since learned to wait to find out what they really need. I just buy a few basics and then the teachers tell them what they want specifically (like a yellow 1 inch binder instead of the 2 inch black one we purchased ect) To my past frustration one of two teachers always have a requirement like this and the stuff we bought from the list goes unused. One year I bought an $8 pack of highlighters because a purple highlighter was on the list and the only one I could find was in a multipack. Only to find out later that she only used the yellow one and only a few times.

    Sorry, I don't really have any frugal accomplishments to share except that I picked three Armenian cucumbers and a few small Stupice tomatos. My pears are tiny still (Bartlett and Shinseiki) but they may not get big this year since I only just planted them last spring. I hope your kids like public school! If not look into the AAA Scholarship for a private school next year if you haven't already done so.

  • $300! I am not surprised that it will be required, too. Oh boy. My son mentioned a trip to Washington, D.C. for another class of his. Thanks for the heads' up.

  • Juls Owings August 22, 2018

    My Daughter just spend $600 for the DC trip and that didn't include his bfast and lunch or any spending money for something to bring home for himself. We always gave the kids $100 in small bills... A drink can cost $5

  • Kim August 20, 2018

    I know that was a tough decision to send your kiddos off to CCSD. Prayer's for them and Mama for a great school year. Look at that sweet face, so precious!!

  • Amber August 20, 2018

    I would do some research and see if the fees are actually required or "strongly encouraged". I know here in BC, most are strongly encouraged but if you don't want a yearbook, you don't have to buy one...you can take woodworking, but without the fee, you get the basic wood, not the fancy kind. And, if it is truly a hardship, many schools and parent associations will reduce the costs. It has been my experience that my kids never used all the supplies that the teachers asked for. I got in the habit or sending the bare minimum, say of pencils, 2 or 3 and then sending more as my child needed them. That way the extra I paid for weren't going to supply the entire class or lost in the shuffle.
    Good luck with your new routine!

  • We did. A yearbook is not required (but my son is taking yearbook, so I know he will want one), but the $25 per elective class is required, and taking an elective is required. The $20 media fee is required. Every student is issued a Chromebook and they are required to do their schoolwork. Most classes do not get a book; for example, there is no math book or English book. If the computer is damaged, the parents are responsible to pay $300. The students must bring their computers fully charged every morning. Knowing there are 12,000 homeless students in our district, I can't help but wonder how they will pay for these things and also how they are supposed to have their computers charged.

  • LynnDinKY August 20, 2018

    12000 Homeless students?!! I can't wrap my mind around this. All of us here on this site are so incredibly fortunate to have a home.

  • We live in the 5th largest school district in the nation. My 13-year-old son helped pack school supplies as part of Project 150 for homeless students, so thankfully, he will be aware that there are those in his classes who are homeless.

  • AndreaG August 20, 2018

    Sobering thoughts. We here are blessed.

  • Tammy August 20, 2018

    When I think of the homeless children. I feel so blessed and feel a bit guilty for whining about any of my problems. 12,000! That is a lot! I'm so glad to have a home and family around too. My heart goes out to those poor children.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018

    I find the number 12,000 homeless students absolutely incredible. It makes me wonder why or how
    the students have become homeless. And yes, Tammy, we are blessed.

  • Juls Owings. com August 22, 2018

    This kind of surprises me..not the requirement of the Chromebook but that fact that you have to pay anything. My brother that is a principal has his Chromebooks paid for by Campbell labels , box tops and printer ink empties. He has done some cupcake sales to get enough.

  • Lynn September 10, 2018

    San Diego has a huge homeless problem also. We live in a rural area 35 minuets away from downtown. Our little town is seeing more and more homeless too. Rent is very expensive here, so if you have a financial hiccup it is very easy for people to get behind and can’t catch up. A lot of the homeless in the city is Alcohol and drug induced. We have a lot of programs for them. Many don’t want to get off the street. I feel especially bad for the children they really don’t have a choice in the matter. It is very very sad.

  • Jennifer O. August 20, 2018

    Such a busy and expensive week for you.
    We keep hoping to turn a corner, but as my husband asked last week… “Why is the house trying to kill us?” In the last week (1) a rodent tried to chew through a wall, (2) a breaker in the kitchen started tripping, (3) the washing machine spazzed and (4) The microwave’s 5 button no longer works and (5) we have a foundation issue (a cheap fix, but a nasty one as we’re on a pier foundation) and (6) the IRS says we owe another $2,000 in taxes..
    In a week. One week.
    And we still don’t have AC on the second floor.
    I have no idea how we’re going to come up with the money for all of this, and I’m trying to remain calm and attack each problem one at a time. I know God will provide a path, but I am still feeling quite overwhelmed right now.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada August 20, 2018

    Wow! Jennifer, all I can say is take a deep breath and keep praying. It will sort itself out! Prayers for you! Ann

  • Yvonne August 20, 2018

    Hang in there, Jennifer. One step at a time. Decide on your most pressing problem and address that first. Then the next, and so on. Take a deep breath and maybe more than one. You can do more than you think you can. I'm praying for you.

  • Margie from Toronto August 20, 2018

    Wow! So many changes and what a crazy, busy time for you and the children. I am always shocked when friends with children still in public school mention all the supplies they have to purchase now and yes, schools in wealthier areas do much better as parents can offer so much more. And then there's the shoes, clothing, special activities, lunch boxes etc. it really is mind boggling. Good luck with this big change. The kids up here don't go back to school until after Labour Day but the shops are packed!
    And Hamish is adorable - what big blue eyes!
    My week started out with a purchase of an IKEA metal shelving unit for my dining room - but - a friend was able to drive me, help with the loading and unloading, and transport it for me so no delivery costs. Even though I spent about $100 in the end it will save me money. It led to a lot of purging and cleaning as I moved items and furniture around but now I have easy access to appliances that were on a high shelf in my pantry and my kitchen is set up much more efficiently. I thought that I would have to purchase more storage items but after sending a ton of things to recycling and reorganizing others I found that I actually have storage boxes, bins and glass jars left over!
    A friend who lives in the same building is moving so I am going to take over her basement locker as she can walk straight in to hers but my locker is in a room that has to be accessed by stairs (building is on a slope) and since I have mobility issues this will make life easier. She is also giving me a bookcase that she is not taking with her so this will go into the locker (each locker is about 4 feet by 6 feet) and I will also repurpose an old TV stand that I was going to throw out - these will keep things off the floor and make them more accessible. As I swap things over I will continue to purge and those extra storage bins & boxes I've accumulated will come in handy.
    I found a few more items on sale to add to my pantry and non-food storage cupboards and used $40 worth of Loyalty points to pay for them. I put in extra hours at my PT job so that will help next month.
    I did 4 loads of laundry but only used the dryer for 1 - hung up the rest to dry.
    Made another trip to the library to pick up books I'd had on hold so there will be a lot more reading over the next few weeks. I really enjoyed both "Red Joan" and "The Gravity of Birds" and I'm now in the middle of "The Death of Mrs. Westaway" - also really good.
    Looking forward to all the comments.

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