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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Fall Harvest 2018 The Prudent Homemaker

With beautiful weather this week, it was perfect to plant a fall garden.

I planted the bulbs I ordered back in July from Van Engelen, a wholesale supplier of bulbs. As long as you make the minimum order requirement, you can purchase bulbs from them for personal use at great prices. I planted peonies (of the earliest blooming type, planted at soil level here in zone 9), lilies, calla lilies, and anemones from them.

I sowed seeds in the garden for green onions, beets, lettuce, parsley, spinach, and arugula. 

Patty Pan Squash The Prudent Homemaker

From the garden, I harvested Swiss chard, basil, pears, patty pan squash, a zucchini, an Armenian cucumber, and a few pomegranates that split early.

I used produce from the garden and the store to decorate a table runner for our table for fall.

I read an e-book from the library on my phone.

I've had a cell phone for a year and a half now, since the local phone company raised taxes to equal the lowest cell phone rate I can find with service in our area. I got a "free" android phone (I had to pay the sales tax on it of $79; it's a ZTE) and I have a month to month deal with Metro PCS that is $30 a month--but actually we pay $25 a month, as my husband also has his phone (which is his work phone) there and they give you a $5 discount on each line for additional lines.

When I got a cell phone, we cancelled our home phone. My husband also no longer has an office phone, and all calls to his office come straight to his cell phone.

Our children do not have cell phones, but my eldest son chose to get a free Google phone number, and he makes and receives calls through our home wifi using a headset and his computer (he also texts with this number, using the wifi at home and free wifi when he is elsewhere and takes his computer with him). His computer is an old laptop that my brother gifted to him. As my son is on the phone a lot, helping people with their genealogy, he enjoys having his own number.

While running errands this week, I charged my phone in the car and listened to music using on Pandora. My eldest showed me how to turn on the Bluetooth in the car (seriously so easy but I had never done it) so that I can listen to my music stations on Pandora through the car's speakers. My husband was so excited about it that he did the same--and then just switched to directly plugging in the phone with a cord to the radio, so I did the same the next time I used the car. We don't have a data usage problem as we are usually on wifi at home (my husband works from home some part of every day and often the entire day several days a week) and our data for the month is 4 GB, but then it just slows down; we are not charged for going over.

I downloaded a free music flashcard app on my phone to help my daughters cement their knowledge of music notes while I brush their hair. 

We continued to use free sites for school, including typing.com, duolingo.com, tonictutor.com (a music note site)  and xtramath.org.

I took 8 of our 9 children to a free orchestra concert at the high school.

While I wait for the shower to warm up (collecting water in a 3-gallon recycled icing bucket in the meantime) I have time to do 25 -35 repetitions of arm-toning exercises using hand weights I purchased at a garage sale for $3 several years ago. I had gotten out of the habit of doing this while I was pregnant and I am trying to make it a regular habit now. It's not much time, but I think every little bit that I can work into my day is a good thing and will add up, just as the tiny things I do to save money add up to thousands of dollars saved each year. I use exercises from this video.

While doing early-morning laundry, putting on makeup and curling my hair, I listened to The Book of Mormon in French using the free Gospel Library app.

I did more French study using free online sources and looking up some words using the free Word Reference dictionary. You can use their site or download their free app. I use the app a lot while messaging friends in France.

I made a batch of spray leave-in conditioner/detangler using a tiny squirt of regular conditioner in a large spray bottle of water. This saves me $8 a month over buying the large bottle of Infusium leave-in conditioner. 

I have been thinking it was time to spray the house again for bugs. It is very common to have a bug service here come to spray for bugs every month for between $30-$55 a month. We don't do that; instead, I purchased three 1-gallon containers of spray at Walmart about 4 years ago for $15 total and I spray the outside perimeter of the house on occasion. When my 8-year-old was sweeping under the table after dinner and found a large scorpion Tuesday night, I killed it (I had to stomp on it 6 times to kill it!) and then I decided that there was no time like the present and immediately went outside to spray for bugs, finding (and stepping on) a huge wolf spider right outside my front door when I started to spray. 

I am so glad it is cooler and soup is welcome on the menu again! This week I made Tuscan tomato bread soup, roast chicken, squash soup, mashed potatoes, paninis, bean and rice burritos (with pinto beans purchased in bulk and cooked outside in my solar oven), granola, yogurt, and crepes. I made large batches of most of these so that I didn't need to cook every day; lunches were leftovers almost every day this past week.

My husband and I had a date night at home. We had ice cream and played several games of Sequence.

Careful watching of my electricity usage (and nice weather!) brought in the amount $27 less than the week's projected amount from the electric company. 

Fall Harvest 2 The Prudent Homemaker 

What did you do to save money last week?




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  • Ellie's friend from Canada October 25, 2018

    How wonderful Rhonda that you are going to the Netherlands. I have always dreamt of going there. After WW II there were many Dutch people who moved into my neighborhood and I went to kindergarten run by two lovely Dutch ladies and had some Dutch teachers. My favourite was a Grade 5 teacher who was very young and had almost starved during the war. My father was a soldier at the liberation of Holland and I am lucky to be alive. Do you know about your grandmother's genealogy? It would be interesting to learn what resources the Family History Library (LDS, Salt Lake City) has online that might tell you something. A really fabulous resource.

  • Rhonda A. October 27, 2018

    I know very little about his grandmother's family history. I think she left family (including siblings) behind when she came to Canada, but no one has maintained contact with them. Hubby's family are just not that interested in geneology, so it is hard to get this type of info from them with any acuracy. Most often they don't even know, because they never asked questions. As I said, his grandmother passed away, so no chance of asking her any questions, either. I'm just happy that hubby is at least seeing a part of his heritage through this trip.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada October 27, 2018

    You might like to do an online, free search at the family history library (LDS). They added 29 million Dutch records this past summer. You never know what you'll find (from my own experience).

    Great you've got hubby onside about going to Holland.

  • S. CO Mary October 24, 2018

    Rhonda - i suggest watching Rick Steve's travel guides as he frequently has a "living museum" (similar to the one you work in?). I thought there was one near Amsterdam. My recommendations for Amsterdam are similar - especially the museum highlight tours (Rikksmuseum - bad spelling! and the Van Gogh). Just walking along the canals and through neighborhoods was magical - but watch out for the cyclists! I am not used to that coming from the wild west where cars are the norm!

  • Rhonda A. October 26, 2018

    S. CO Mary, I want to give you a huge thank you for this suggestion. I looked up Rick Steve on-line and found episodes for a bunch of places in Europe we will be visiting on this trip. I had hubby watch them with me and we now have some great suggestions of places to visit in those cities as well. You were right, there is a dutch living history museum that is close to Amsterdam and it looks amazing. I think hubby and I will try to visit there during our stay! So, again, thank you again for suggesting we watch Rick Steve!!!

  • Tina S. October 23, 2018

    I love reading your posts. I spent 12 years in the Netherlands, and loved every minute of it. The things you write about bring back good memories.
    Enjoy your visit to Amsterdam (that's where I lived). The last time I was there was for our honeymoon in 2010. So it's been awhile. :) I moved back to the USA in 2006.

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks October 26, 2018

    Hello Tanja. My daughter just returned from a European vacation and she said Amsterdam was one of her most favorite spots. I haven't seen any pictures yet or heard much about it, but hope to hear all about it soon!

    I recently saw a television program about the systems of dikes and pumping stations in your country that protect your low lying lands from coastal storms and flooding. It was really fascinating how all of it was designed and quite creative as well. One of your engineers is now here in the US advising some of our coastal areas and cities of innovative ways to help prevent the flooding that has accompanied some of our hurricanes. I expect we will learn a lot from his/your country's experience. Flooding continues to be a major problem for my state (North Carolina), especially from the recent hurricanes Florence and Michael. Although my area fared well with Florence, Michael was not expected to bring anything except a bit of rain. Unfortunately, it (unexpectedly) brought flood waters and many people lost cars, businesses, belongings and had flooded homes. So we could use some help!

  • Ellie's friend October 23, 2018

    Every morning I have spent time on Duo Lingo. In the past 20 days, I have earned about 2,600 words in Italian. My goal is to get up to about 6,000 words but don't know if it's possible. As the day warmed up, I sat outside and sorted through some boxes of papers. I saw a Mountain Chickadee which is rare in my yard and today I managed to get a photo. we are supposed to have a week of sunny weather so I hope to get a lot of sorting done.

    I was sad not to go to Andrea Bocelli's concert in Montreal due to cost of the concert, the airplane flight hotel etc. So I was thrilled to discover that someone used an iPhone 8 to film some of the concert and put it on You Tube. I bought two cds –– on for me and one for a niece for Christmas. They should arrive any moment. Bocelli's new cd was really reasonably priced at the time I pre-ordered it.

    I washed out some garden pots so I could put them in recycling.

    I was worried that my handibus pass might not be renewed but after the interview the lady renewed it for 3 years. That makes my life so much easier. It's cheaper too. I went for an mri at our new hospital which would have cost me$200 by cab (it's that far distant from me) but on handibus 2 bus tickets = $6. I am SO relieved.

    I have to get new eye glasses and discovered one of the stores has a financing arrangement so I'll use it for the balance not covered by my insurance plans which will be directly billed. Unfortunately, the coatings on my present pair have crazed so I am looking through a cloud. Unfortunately I only have one pair and no spare. I never had the coatings on the lenses craze before but it is because I was wearing them into the shower (because of the broken arm, I felt safer that way) and the hot water destroyed them.

    I could get a pair for about a third of the price from Montreal but they will not fill progressives online without a personal visit. I was tempted to go hear Bocelli as the difference of price would have paid for my airfare. It is a Canadian law to have a personal fitting but ironically I could get them from an American online company. The problem is the online doesn't direct bill. I am trying to order frames (no lenses) online but haven't come across my size and even so different companies have different sizes with the same measurement. So frustrating!

    I hope to plant some of the seeds I bought for 25 cents a package at the rock garden society. I will plant them directly outside now that our early snow has melted.

  • Margie from Toronto October 24, 2018

    My lens cost a fortune - progressives, ultra thins & coated to take the glare off the computer but I have always bought my frames at my optometrists office as there is no markup. I've been lucky in that he's always had a good selection and designer frames cost me a fraction of what others pay at the Optical stores. I could never understand why friends were paying so much more for their glasses than I was even though I was the one with the real eye issues - turns out they were paying $400 to $700 for a few bits of plastic with designer names on them! Crazy!

  • Ellie's friend from canada October 25, 2018

    Hi Margie,

    You might have a look at Bon Look. Not only do they have a store in Montreal but also Toronto. Here the optometrists frames are as expensive as elsewhere. In looking for the Toronto store, I see that they now have a mall boutique in Calgary. Yay! You can get prescription glasses for $145 frames and lenses but I think you can also get prgressives including frames and coatings for about $350 total plus tax. Elsewhere (in the same mall), my lenses alone would cost $690.00. Someone recently told me that there was a boutique kiosk in the mall but didn't tell me it was Bon Look (it's a Montreal company that cuts out the middleman). You optometrist sounds like it's a good deal.

  • Mmckms October 24, 2018

    Ellie’s friend
    Don’t no how long I have had your frames but recently when we went to Walmart to look at getting my husband a cheap back up pair to his prescription glasses the lady there told us that all lenses are replaced as many times as you need them in a one year period! We left called the place we got his glasses and asked them; they said yes it is a manufacturers warranty automatically, so they ordered the new lenses no cost to us and called 5 days later to run by and have them put in....all for free. Just thought if they weren’t that old you could class.

  • Mmckms October 24, 2018

    Oops u could call, sorry for the typo

  • Ellie's friend from Canada October 25, 2018

    Thanks Mmckms. I did ask about a warranty but it was only a year and My glasses are not covered. Thanks for the suggestion! Ann

  • Kim in Florida October 23, 2018

    I used the last of the good seasons salad dressing packets that I had gotten for free. I made Brandy's balsalmic orange vinaigrette. I did use red wine vinegar and no orange flavoring. Delicious and no cost to make. The next day I ran out of mayonnaise. I used this recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/159507/whole-egg-mayonnaise/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=Search&clickId=cardslot%201
    Delicious and no cost to make. Saves me $6.29 for a jar at the grocery store. We've been homeshopping and not having too much luck for what we were pre approved for. We can afford a nice home in an area where many people dont take care of their homes or properties. We dont want that so we will keep looking. DH got it in his head that we can have a home built. So we went to all the new developments and discovered we cant afford it. We went to one builder and they convinced us we could, and if we went through their lender, they'd pay the closing costs, yada yada yada. Well we were approved but when we went back the next day to pick out a spot, the monthly payments had changed. Even though the new payment was reachable......from my experience, mortgages go up, even 30 year fixed ones do. Also from my experience, unexpected things happen and your income can decrease at an instant. I was able to convince dh that this wasnt such a great idea and now we are still looking. By the time we find something, we'll have more money saved up! I used the apps and coupons for a lot of the things I picked up at the grocery store. I did an audit that I got paid for and was able to keep a dozen eggs. I used my walgreens rewards and cvs extracare bucks for some needed items. I sure wish those stores sold fresh fruit and veggies!!!

  • Marcia R. October 29, 2018

    We were older when looking for a house but wanted to get into a decent school district as our kids were close to high school age. (8 years in the military took up some time.) We told the realtor what we wanted to spend on a house and they kept telling us, oh, there is nothing in that range in that area. Strangely, they kept finding a house or two to show us, most in need of a fair amount of work. The one we bought is older (110 now) but it met our other qualifications--basically sound, two floors (heat rises), and space for a garden. It's a narrow but long lot, and we have managed quite well here. Best of all, we spent only about half what the bank said we could afford. (I am pretty good at math.) The rest we spent along the way, fixing it up. The major thing was it badly needed painting. We did it once ourselves but saved for roof and siding. Put a roof on the house and barn, and sided the house. Blacktopped the gravel driveway. Did all the painting, removing wallpaper, redecorating, etc, ourselves, paying as we went. It did eventually need a new boiler but that was 28 years later. Husband thinks we need a new roof now--it does need looking at but might only need patching. I can only find one leak and I'm not sure where that's coming from. We've been in here 40 years and I think we could easily get 3 times what we paid for it --we have never added a half bath so have only one and it's on the second floor. Only major drawback to the house, IMO.

    Our housepayment was less than most people pay for a new car, including taxes. We paid it off 9 years early. I am ready to downsize but DH is not. It will take me a while to declutter--been working on it a while already. By that time he may BE ready.

    It's not as fancy a house as most of our friends have, but we are happy and comfortable here. I am a big believer in living SMALL. In the 56 years we've been married, we have bought only 2 NEW cars. We have had vacations every year except the last couple--we still had some time away but we both have had illnesses which cut into vacation time. We have been able to put money into a 401(k) and are managing well -- I retired 16 years ago and we still have spent only a small amount of our nestegg to date. (Most for dental work!) You can do a lot over time. You can do a lot yourself. And you can do it without interest on a huge mortgage!

  • Myra October 23, 2018

    Hello all! It has been a while since I have posted frugal accomplishments, but I always look for a post on Monday to see what everyone is doing to save money while making life beautiful! My frugal accomplishments, not necessarily for this week only, have included the following:
    1. Turning off all lights and appliances when not in use. We moved from a 1400 square foot home with gas to a 2500 sq. foot home that is all electric. The first two bills were 267 and 287. I've budgeted 300, but I really want to get that number down, so I'm doing everything I can think of to get it down at the moment. We had a programmable thermostat in this house with no idea how to use it, so I went online and watched a youtube video and learned how to program it so now it is set at 85 when no one is here. We will see how much this helps. We also adjusted the heat on one of the water heaters (We have 2!) because the previous owners had the water extremely hot and that just used more electricity. The other water heater is going to require us to move the fridge, washer, and dryer to get to it, so we will have to do that one some other time.
    2. Cooked at home.
    3. My husband has gotten into leather working. He made 50.00 yesterday for making a sheath for a coworker's fishing knife. He buys his leather with a 40% coupon from Hobby Lobby to keep the price down. He make them by hand and I must say, he is doing a wonderful job. He has watched tutorials on youtube to learn how to do certain processes and he is getting better everyday.
    4. Bought a beautiful antique couch for the sitting area of my bedroom for 15.00 at an auction. No one wanted to bid on it and it was a perfect match to our room, so we got it.
    5. Cleaned the filters in the air units. Hopefully this will help them run more efficiently.
    6. The previous owners, as part of the selling agreement, agreed to pay for the master bathroom's floor to be fixed. My husband and the previous owner, (we happen to be friends) went Saturday to purchase all of the material and my husband will fix it himself and keep the price of labor. (We had an estimate done by someone and the previous owner agreed to pay my husband that amount in labor costs plus costs of the material)

    I'm sure there is a lot more, but this will be all I can do for now. Have a blessed week!

  • Darcy October 23, 2018

    Although we don’t get scorpions here in the Midwest, we do get spiders and other creepy-crawlies and it is time for us to spray, too. We will be taking advantage of Menards 11% rebate special this week to get some spray and spray around the house.

    My husband got his flu shot for free at the CVS inside of Target and received a $5.00 coupon in return. Along with a merchandise return gift card, I was able to get our vitamins for free.

    I made bone broth in the slow cooker from bones we had in the freezer. I made Olive Garden’s copycat recipe for Zuppa Toscana. The recipe called for 1 pound of Italian sausage but I only used ¾. There was no noticeable difference in the soup. I cooked the rest of the sausage separately and froze it for pizza.

    We found boneless skinless chicken breasts for 99 cents per pound. We bought 10 pounds and froze them into dinner-size portions. My husband and I usually share one chicken breast for dinner.

    My husband made spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker. I am so glad he like to cook!

    We have started a new habit that has been saving us money. Every Friday we take the cash out that we need for the week for groceries, gas, etc., and leave our debit cards at home. It has helped us to stay within our budget as we are being more intense about paying down debt.

    We have also been putting money away for expenses that we know we will have, a little bit from every paycheck. My husband’s phone needed replaced this week and we were able to pay cash for it. This is not something that we have always been able to do.

  • Jennifer O. October 23, 2018

    We spent a much needed weekend away. The weekend wasn’t particularly frugal, but it could have been much worse. Got to see a traditional Indian Baraat (groom’s wedding procession) at the hotel. Brought a bottle of wine to enjoy in the room/ at the pool, but did have some drinks in the bar downstairs as they had things we wished to try. Ate appetizers and desserts one night rather than full dinners as dessert looked more interesting. We were coming from 2 different cities (in opposite directions) so we had 2 cars, and parking at the hotel was $30 a night for EACH car on top of the high room rate. We are strategizing how to do it next time for less.

    Our animal sitter refused payment for the weekend as she needed SAE project hours for FFA. I put the money aside to give her as a Christmas bonus. Have another FFA student coming to do a major fall clean out/ winter prep of the chicken coop for his hours. Continued cleaning out the pantry. Ate out for Mexican one night, but deliberately took half home to eat for another meal. For our colleagues’ lunch this week, I’m bringing buttered boiled carrots and potatoes. My yard guy wanted a ride to a town an hour and a half away to go see his mother. I agreed to take him after work in exchange for a week of free mowing/weeding. Called my sister on the trip home (hands free devices) and caught her during her commute so we got to talk uninterrupted.

    Did some more house hunting (looking for a floorplan as we are going to build), I think we finally found one that we like and has what we need, but isn’t too ridiculously big. Only minor changes needed to make it work for us and we still have a room for my mother if/when she needs it.

    Called the fire department because one of my smoke detectors went off. Found out that they go bad/expire! Regularly checking the batteries is good, but the detectors themselves need to be replaced every 8 – 10 years – even the hardwired ones.

  • Cindi October 24, 2018

    We had to replace all our smoke detectors this year since they expired. I never knew before that they would do this.

  • Marcia R. October 29, 2018

    While visiting a friend with cancer last week, I was asked to listen for the beeping of a low battery. He is hard of hearing and unable to find the source himself. I listend for the beeps and was able to tell him it was one of two in his basement, so he brought it upstairs and changed the battery. I was happy for any little thing I could do for him that helps him out.

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