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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments and Garage Sale Finds

Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

Most weeks I save by making do at home and not shopping. This week involved a lot of saving on items I needed and wanted while shopping:

I love the symphony. Starting from the time I was 13, I used to save all of my babysitting money (and most people paid me $2 an hour) to be able to buy season tickets for myself and a parent to purchase season tickets to the symphony every year. I did this for years as a teenager and I loved going. 

My husband and I went to the symphony once--on our first date. It's been over 17 years since I've been. The Las Vegas Philharmonic has been sending out coupons in the local ValPak for individual performances for several months. I looked online, saw what pieces they would be performing, and decided that the one I really wanted to see the most was their last performance for the season in May. I waited until the coupon deal came: 25% off tickets--and I bought two of the least expensive seats they have. I am very excited to get to see the symphony again!

I even have a dress to wear! The week before last, I decided to check out the Dillard's clearance center after three people told me about it. I found a formal dress there (and dresses were on additional markdown that week) and paid $54.06 with tax (the original price was $238!) I'll be able to wear it on other occasions as well--and hopefully to the symphony again next season! (Apparently, the sales were even better at the clearance center this week: on top of the clearance prices, dresses were buy 1 get 2 free! For Las Vegas readers, it's the Dillard's in the Meadows Mall that has been turned into a clearance center. It's one floor only, and they are open Tuesday through Sunday, 12-7 Monday-Saturday and 12-6 on Sunday, and you can get their app to see what additional markdowns they have each week.)

My husband dropped off our clothing donations while out running an errand in the same part of town. We always try to combine errands (even close ones) and by so doing are able to use under 10,000 miles a year (and often under 6,000 a year) on our vehicle.

I started another group of bags to take to thrift store to donate. As the children are outgrowing clothing and I now need a smaller size, I continue to make up bags of clothing and other items to donate. 

I planted three tomato plants that I started from cuttings from another tomato plant. I had broken off the lower branches to plant the plant deeply. I've had them in a cup of water on the kitchen counter for a few weeks and they have rooted. Hopefully they will all take.

I planted seeds in the garden for Armenian cucumbers, red noodle beans, and Hubbard squash.

I cut Swiss chard, lemon verbena, lettuce, green onions, and arugula from the garden. I also pulled radishes and picked snow peas from the garden.

I accepted some free Dutch iris bulbs from someone who was dividing them. I shared Swiss chard and nasturtium seeds with her.

I am making a diligent effort to use up food from the freezer to make room for this year's harvest and some great sales that I can find. As part of this, I made some fig tarts using frozen figs. I've never used the figs this way before and almost everyone in the family liked them this way. I have a number of frozen figs to use up, so I'll try measuring the next few times I make these so I can share a recipe.

I took in a dress that was too big to make it fit me. 

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Sam's Club gift card, that I will use towards our groceries this month.

My boys continued to sell camp cards for Boy Scouts. This is the first year our troop has opted to have boys sell camp cards to earn money for camp. As Boy Scout camp is fairly pricey (around $400 per boy, depending on the camp), it can take a lot of odd jobs to earn the money for camp. (This was a great deal for the buyers: the cards cost $5 and the buyer gets a $5 off coupon for a grocery store, plus many other discounts at other businesses (including a free oil change--user just pays tax and the disposal fee).  Half of the money from each card goes to the boys to pay for their camp. If boys sell a certain number of cards, they can even earn a free week of camp at a local camp and a free day at a water slide park!)

Swinging The Prudent Homemaker

I went garage sale shopping with my parents at the semi-annual community garage sales in my area (there were at least 6 community, i.e. neighborhood, sales in my area and we went to 5 of them). I found several items on my list, including jeans, pants, and shirts for several family members for $1 each. I found a tie for my husband for $0.50. I bought a dress for a daughter for $2. I bought several history and science books for the children for $0.25 and $0.50 each. 

My dad always find it amazing that my mom and I make a garage sale list and actually find items on our list! Eventually, I usually do find items on the list, and this time I found a few items that had been on my list for a while: some wooden children's hangers (several for $1) and some 5-pound hand weights ($1). I found a small glass bowl that matches another I found at a garage sale a couple of years ago ($1).

I bought a couple of mirrors; one was $3, and the other, a long, beveled mirror, was $20. I found a small bulletin board with a fancy frame for $3 and a large picture in a nice frame for $7. As much I liked the framed bulletin board as-is, it was just about the right size for a picture that I needed framed, so my dad took the bulletin board out and added a piece of glass and a mat that he had (one of his scraps, as they closed down their framing business last year) and framed the picture in it for me. 

One of the sales we went to was an estate sale (where we bought several items). The family had 3 large #10 cans of tomato puree out with the other items in the house. We asked if they were selling them and they said we could have the canned tomatoes if we could use them. As these were items on my grocery shopping list this month, I was delighted! They also gave use some other pantry food items that were in the house, including two containers of juice, a box of cake mix, a container of icing, two boxes of pudding mix, 4 bags of pasta/rice mixes, and a bottle of tabasco sauce.

What did you do this past week to save money?


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  • It is pretty wonderful that you find so many things from your list at garage sales.

    I majored in music in school and adore the symphony. I haven't been in a decade. I'd love to go again! Maybe someday when we're debt free.

    Our Boy Scouts (not my sons, but friends of ours) were selling camp cards like that last year. They had 10% off of a trip to Kroger. I loved those cards! Sadly they don't have the same coupon this year. :(

    Here are the ways we saved this week:

  • Bethany April 10, 2017

    Look into local high schools and see if they have a "symphonic band". While not quite the symphony, a high school concert is a good way to enjoy some of the classical pieces for free- and they'd love to have you- the audience is typically the band parents, lol. A symphonic band, or a wood wind ensemble concert is slightly different from a regular band concert, in that they use more string instruments. Not all schools have them, but the school website should tell you if they do, and list the concerts on the school calendar. If your local college has a music program, the senior recitals are also a good freebie source for music.

  • We have been trying to do this, but strangely the local school doesn't put these performances on a calendar on their website! (Prom, graduation, and AP exams are listed). I know they usually have a spring concert and I have had my daughter ask other students when it is (who are in the orchestra) and for some reason, they never know what time the performance is! I will try asking around again because are wanting to go and the performance is usually free (and should be soon!)

    I played flute in high school myself, but our school only had a marching band and a jazz band (no orchestra). We always had a spring concert though; the last one I performed in fell on my 18th birthday!

  • Lea April 12, 2017

    Try emailing or calling the school. They should be able to either tell you straight up or connect you with the music department. You might also try local colleges and universities. They usually list their concerts and recitals on their website. Many of those concerts are also free and the rest may be low cost. Enjoy!

  • Terry April 14, 2017

    My grandsons orchestra usually does a fall concert and a spring concert. Call the school and ask to speak to the orchestra teacher and leave a voicemail. I'm sure they will call you back with the dates and times.

  • Marie May 14, 2017

    Yes, either call the school or use the staff directory on the website and email the choral/band/whatever director. I agree, the talent level is sometimes astounding and they definitely appreciate a full audience Also, My alma mater, Ohio State, provided many concerts. They were free for me as a student several decades ago, but perhaps your local college has some free, or very low cost, performances.

  • MARISA April 14, 2017

    Bethany and Brandy,
    Thank you for these tips. I have been wanting to go the Opera and is it $160 to $260 for two people. Then I remembered that my mother-in-law goes to a Local movie theater to see the NY met opera for a about $25/person.

    Then I looked up our local university and the Symphony is $15/ person.

    Looking forward to giving these and the High School a shot.

  • Athanasia April 14, 2017

    Our town high school has concerts a couple times a year and so does the University. They are very reasonably priced, like 2.00 with students free. Also as Bethany said the senior recitals of the music majors are good to attend, also the senior art shows. One of the churches in town holds free pipe organ concerts over the winter at noon. They let you bring your lunch in to eat while listening. The park has a different music program once a week in the summer at noon, sometimes bluegrass, sometimes country, sometimes a string quartet. Varies.

  • http://Robbie at Use Resources Wisely April 18, 2017

    You.might also look to see if the scouts have a local partnership with the symphony. Once each summer purs has a scout night and the kids go free in uniform and with a Donation to the food pantry.

  • Bethany April 10, 2017

    I made yogurt and ham broth this week. I got the ham for $0.87/lb! My mom dropped off three bags of fresh limes that I am looking for ways to use. If anyone has ideas beside juicing, let me know! Other frugal accomplishments here:

  • Judy April 10, 2017

    I have successfully frozen whole lemons and whole limes. To use them, I defrost them in the fridge or I put them in a bowl of cold water. Then I juice them just as I do fresh lemons and limes. If the produce hasn't been sprayed, I zest the peel and freeze it.

  • Athanasia April 12, 2017

    I like this idea Judy. Thanks.

  • Becky @ Becky's Place April 11, 2017

    I've used this recipe for fajitas. It uses a good bit of lime juice.

  • TerriC April 11, 2017

    Lime curd or lime 'butter' is a nice way to use up limes as well. It's versatile enough to use as jam or cake filling, etc.

  • Athanasia April 12, 2017

    We like to make limeade in the summer.

  • Margaret @approachingfood April 10, 2017

    Symphony tickets & free food! It sounds like a good week! And, I love your fig tarts -- the stars on top are what make it!

    My frugal accomplishments:
    - I couldn’t sleep one night, and finally, at 5 am, got up and did some kitchen prep. I grated cheese so that I can make macaroni and cheese very easily for dinner one night, and I peeled potatoes (and then put them in a bowl of water in the fridge to avoid browning).
    - Made freezer mashed potatoes with some leftover cream cheese and sour cream from my fridge and some storage potatoes. I froze it as an easy dinner side for the future.
    - Made fettucine alfredo using up bits of this and that. Made just enough for two nice meals!
    - Bought some face cream and combined a rain cheque with a coupon to get the cream for the cheapest I’ve ever been able to. I’m still using up the dregs of my old bottle (and will for some time) but it’s nice to have another bottle ready for when I need it!
    - I finally tried Brandy’s chicken fried steak! I used home dried onions, and substituted Montreal Steak spice (plus a tsp of veggie bouillon) for the poultry seasoning, and used leftover homemade gravy instead of mushroom soup. Yummy! After dinner, I packed a serving for lunch and froze the rest sans gravy. The DH didn’t like them as chicken fried steak (he grew up on a cattle farm) but when I used the frozen patties to make him a burger for lunch, he really liked them!
    - Got a (small) bonus at work and applied it straight to the mortgage! I do love doing that with any little bit of unexpected money that I get. Makes me happy to see the principal go down even the tiniest bit!
    - Practiced making chocolate bunnies with molds, using white chocolate wafers I had in my pantry as well as chocolate chips (which I know aren’t the best for molding). The small solid bunnies I’ve set aside and will use it in some Easter-themed dessert closer to Easter, and the single large bunny that I made was imperfect…so I ate it! I’m practicing so that I can give some as hostess gifts to the children of a friend who invited us for a holiday meal.
    - Was gifted some loose leaf tea from a client at work – Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, as well as Amaretto Almond Biscotti tea – and I’ll repackage it prettily in mason jars and re-gift it to my sister and as hostess gifts.
    - Couldn’t figure out what to make for dinner, as I hadn’t gone shopping in a while. Ended up using up the last pear in the house to make pear pancakes. Lots leftover to freeze and then pop in the toaster or microwave for quick future breakfasts!
    - Redeemed Pinecone Research points for $5 to my Paypal account.
    - Made myself a mug of hot cocoa using my homemade chocolate sauce, and topped it with some leftover chocolate whipped cream (chocolate ganache gone wrong – but I refused to throw it out because it was a delicious mistake!)
    - Dug through my candy stash and pulled out some chocolate mini Santas that the DH had given me for Christmas. I melted them down (they were compound chocolate, and I don’t usually eat that, but it’s better for molds), and turned them into chocolate bunnies using my rabbit mold. I just ate one, and they’re minty chocolate, yum! I love that I was able to repurpose something that I wasn’t using into something that I will definitely use! I’m thinking I will use them to decorate the top of a chocolate cake.
    - Made Brandy’s tomato basil soup, but replaced a couple of items to make it more pantry-friendly for me.
    - Made Hot Cross Buns! ( I used up the last of the candied fruit that I had bought from a bulk store at Christmas time when I had made fruit cake, and used up some raisins that I had in my cupboard. I used my basic pizza dough recipe and then enriched it, so it was a) easy and b) not expensive. So glad I’ve come up with this recipe!
    - Made cookies with the child of a friend, and was able to use up some mint buttercream that I had had sitting in the fridge for a long time. I hate to waste food, so I was very pleased to be able to use it up! I also used sprinkles that were given to me by a friend and some homemade coloured sanding sugar.

  • PJGT April 11, 2017

    I love your is such a blessed day when I can reuse and not waste...not to mention a make-do dinner that sounds yummy!

  • Anne April 10, 2017

    I think my favorite part of this week's post was your buying a new dress for the symphony. You will feel beautiful and have a lovely evening. Good for you.

  • Becky April 10, 2017

    What a great deal, especially on the free food at the garage sale. I've noticed that on estate sales, they are sometimes clearing out everything, and I've seen them try to sell old, dusty food for as much as it is at the store. No one wants it then. But, other places, it's very cheap or free. I will think about buying it depending on the condition and price. I'm glad you got the big cans--nothing anyone can do to wreck those, so win-win!

    Good luck to your boys selling those card. We've certainly done our time over the years selling things to raise money. It's a lot of work for both the parent and kids, but I love it when kids can put in effort and earn money for their events. Right now, one of mine cleans someone's house every Saturday for 2 hours to raise money for her summer camp and mission trip.

    This week, I spent quite a bit of time in the yard and garden. I planted the early spring things that will grow around here at this time of year. It's been pouring rain every since, so they are watered in all right. Hopefully, they won't wash away or rot from too much moisture!

    I did a lot of cooking. The rest is on my blog:

  • Cindy in the South April 10, 2017

    I am attempting to refinance my home, in order to vest in our retirement program. I am doing this is case my son becomes sicker in the future, and I have to quit work to take care of him. That way, I would have an income to pay mortgage, utilities, living expenses, etc. We shall see if the refinancing loan goes through. I think the only issue will be some things about the house. Otherwise, I just took care of my kid, brought my lunch, and ate at home. I am having to go see him a lot more, so it is more gas but that is ok, I am NOT complaining. Y'all have a blessed week!

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