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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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  • Pam B. April 12, 2017

    I haven't posted in a while! Our frugal things this week were staying within budget on our shopping, stocking up on meat for our freezers, and not wasting any food! I also used some freebie coupons to stock up on a few pantry items we needed. We had an unexpected (and expensive) plumbing repair this week, but fortunately we had the funds to cover it. Sticking to our budget made that possible!

    I do have a question for you, Brandy. Without getting political & just talking strictly about home food storage/preparedness - what are your feelings lately about preparedness? We are feeling like it is very important right now, with all that is happening in the world, to really double check our food storage, first aid kits, water, etc., and make sure everything is properly stocked & within date. I almost feel like there is a timeline on this. I live in an area where we tend to get bad spring storms as well, so that's just another reason to make sure everything is in good order. Just thought I'd ask your opinion on those things!

  • Cindy S. April 12, 2017

    Funny you should ask that Pam, because I have been wondering if people are doing food storage much anymore. I have at least 3-4 months of food/supplies if we rationed certain things. A lot of the you tubers that I used to watch about it have stopped making videos. I do enjoy the Store This Not That book and you tube channel though. I just think it makes good sense to be prepared as you can come what may.

  • Juls Owings April 22, 2017

    I do a two yr storage, my one daughter is working back up to a yr storage the other kids do 2-3 mos. My dad does a 2 month knowing if things get bad he will either come to me or my brother or one of the grandkids. I do over 1200 sq ft of gardening. Hubby was cut to 3 days a week for 2 yrs and food wasn't something I had money to buy.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC April 12, 2017

    I started cleaning out my pantry last weekend. I try to do this at least once a year. No matter how organized I am, I always find items that are near or past their expiry date. I'll wait for sales to restock.
    I like to have a deep pantry for a variety of reasons. One big one is that I am now on a fixed income.With the pantry, I am more able to buy only store loss leaders/sale items. I can stretch my limited income this way. Some times I can not go shopping due to health limitations so a deep pantry means I can prepare food without having to go out.
    Building a pantry was life changing for me. Having Brandy's pantry recipes has also been very helpful. I try to make at least one pantry dinner each week.

  • Cindy in the South April 12, 2017

    I am not Brandy, but I am LDS (Mormon) and our Church has for years recommended food storage in case of illness, job loss, weather events etc. I do not exactly follow the recommendations but for a list of the year supply of food generally needed you can google LDS food storage and it should come up. I is also on the site. I have a small house, and I keep about a six months supply of beans, rice, pasta, canned vegetables and fruits, canned meats, cornmeal, flour, sugar, spices, etc. The recession was disastrous for my wallet, and food storage, I found, was a good idea.

  • Pam April 13, 2017

    I do know that preparedness is a large part of Mormon culture (I am not LDS). I think it's a great idea! We look at our food (and other goods) storage as almost a type of "savings account." If we are ever stuck at home or have a large unexpected expense or loss of income, we will still have food to eat & soap to wash our clothes, etc.

  • Pam, It's always a good idea to be prepared for whatever comes your way. People lose jobs, take cuts in income, deal with natural disasters, etc. all the time. My own family has an irregular income; having food storage means if we don't make money one month, I can still eat. It also makes it possible for me to hold out for the best sales out there. Right now I'm mostly buying fresh food as we eat from the pantry; I am buying a few pantry items but my pantry is pretty stocked in most things. Should we see a loss in income (and without a regular paycheck, as we are in sales, that can always happen) then we will be fine to not go shopping for quite a long time.

  • TCR April 12, 2017

    Someone else may have already mentioned this. Our local cultural attractions usually have a Pay What You Can night for one performance of each show. For example, if a play runs for a month, the PWYC night is always the first Thursday after opening night. You pay whatever you feel comfortable with. You might check and see if this is available for the cultural attractions you are interested in. Also as a way to share Arts/Cultural activities with people who might not afford them, the public library has a few free passes to most cultural events. I think you are probably limited to how many times each year your can receive the free passes but it might be worth checking into. When Broadway shows come to Memphis it they are not 100% sold out they have what is called a Student Rush night. Students, teachers, first responders, nurses etc can buy best available tickets for cash only on the day of show. We've gotten $200 seats for only $25 before. Just some ideas, none of these might be applicable to your geographic area.

  • How wonderful where you live! I bet there are deals like that all over.

    I found out about the Las Vegas Entertainment tax when I went to buy these tickets. Thankfully it was only $4 a ticket extra; my mom said that she has paid $20 tax before on a $40 ticket for a concert here. It depends on the entertainment tax, the venue tax, the ticket seller charge, etc. They all add up. Even the high school plays are bought through a service and I imagine they charge a fee as well for the purchase like the other places.

    So we might now get as many awesome deals as you do, but I bet there are some things out there I still don't know about, as entertainment isn't usually a line in our budget.

  • Cindy in the South April 13, 2017

    I totally understand, Brandy, because entertainment ( nor vacations) have not been a line in my budget either. I will, occasionally, go visit a state or national park that I usually have to pay anywhere from $1.00 to $4.00 to enter. I only do this maybe four times a year.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC April 14, 2017

    Our local theater group has $10 tickets on opening night for their plays. There are usually goofs at some point - like the last play where they forgot to put the house lights on at the end of the play. At that price, I can go a few times a year.

  • Athanasia April 17, 2017

    I forgot about this but when I was finishing my graduate degree I lived in a large city and you could attend the dress rehearsals of the symphony orchestra for free. Also with a student ID you could arrive 45 minutes before a performance was to start (plays, ballet etc) and if there were any seats left using a student ID you could buy a seat for much less. I'm not sure of the discount but it was at least 1/2 off.

  • momsav April 13, 2017

    Loved the picture of big sister pushing the swing. Octavious doesn't look too sure of things! The tarts look fabulous, too. I've made pies, quiche, hand pies, but I've never made a tart.
    For frugal accomplishments;
    *We got to Skype with our son and grands. We haven't done this in awhile so it was a nice treat. The youngest is now one and a half, so no sitting still for long.
    *The big news is I've been able to hang clothes on the line. That never happens this early. I actually started on March 31st. There's no stopping me, now!
    *I'm still walking for exercise. The Tribal Center has stopped giving tokens for the farmers market because they've already run out of money! Now that I know I don't have to be Native to utilize the facilities, I'll continue without the added incentive. I feel so much better already!
    *I sold a few things on eBay. Sales have slowed way down so I should get busy and list. There's always something to sell.
    *I had to drive an hour to the largest city in the U.P; but I got to see Doctor Strange for free. They do this all year long. We're also allowed to bring our dinner. (I put $$ in the jar) I get to see movies my husband would never watch. I love to watch movies which is something we don't do a lot of anymore.
    *We celebrated our (36th) anniversary last week by going to see my husband's art hanging in an art gallery. (Photographs) Tonight, we go back for prizes and to find out if any sold and/or if any will travel to Mackinaw Island. I'm so happy for him! We did other things while there, but this was the highlight!
    *I baked a new recipe for chocolate nut bars. They were a hit, so I made two more trays for the Moose club's dessert table. All supplies were from the pantry/freezer.
    *I also made up two batches of cookie dough using odds and ends leftover from Christmas. I put some in the freezer and the rest have been devoured by The Mr. (He has a sweet tooth that won't quit!)
    *I decided to be brave and planted kale, spinach and chard in a huge tree-size pot I have. Then it snowed. So, we shall see how that works.
    *I trimmed my few pots of raspberries. I see new growth so that's a good sign.
    *I've started watching the third season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. Love that show!
    *I finally got some mending done on my white quilt. It needs to be washed and hung in the sun. I'm hoping it doesn't tatter some more. I still need to add a new binding but I'm dragging my feet....
    *I made tapioca pudding for the first time with pearls I've had for quite awhile. I added blackberries I picked last Summer. It was delicious! I have enough pearls for another batch. Now that I know how to make it, and we both enjoy it, I'll be inclined to make it more often.
    *Our water bill went back up, into the stratosphere, actually. I called the city and they sent someone over to check the meter. No leaks. But, the guys told me the charges increased, yet again. There was no notice of any kind. My husband pulled the water saving shower head, put in a new gasket and turned it down a notch. Maybe, next month will be less.
    That's about it for me besides the usual. I hope everyone has a great week ahead.

  • Athanasia April 17, 2017

    Momsav, congratulations to your husband on his photos being displayed. I hope they do well! Also congratulations on your wedding anniversary. May you have many, many more wonderful years to celebrate.

  • Mary April 13, 2017

    We had one splurge last week but in the end this will save us a lot. We drove our daughter to an in state school 4 hrs away to check out. She is going there instead of across the country!! Whew a relief.
    We did all our normal savings, cooking from scratch and put more money into savings for new house. Have a great weekend all!

  • Lilllanna Pickles April 15, 2017

    Congratulations on the in state tuition. My son is going to take his core classes at the local tech school and live at home for two years. We crunched numbers and showed him how much he will save. In addition he will be getting money back that will be used towards the 3rd and 4th year. I am pretty sure that by doing it this way, he can graduate
    debt free. My middle daughters expenses for school have been an incredible burden on all of us. We are already looking for books online instead of getting them at the school bookstore. I honestly have found higher education to be a huge money making scam. Financial aid needs to be looked at closely . My daughter was short 1200.00 that first year. They

    gave her a 5000.00 loan which she did not need . That loan costs almost 9000.00 to pay back. Schools are in it to make money and do not always give good advice.

  • Athanasia April 17, 2017

    In state tuition is a wonderful thing. We live in a small town but it happens to have a large state university. 3 of my children were able to get their undergrad degree there and live at home. The one had to go to another town with the nursing program and we sent her brother along as they had his degree there too. That way she was not alone. They lived with an older couple who were teacher friends of my parents. My mother lived at home and this school is where she met my father, State Teachers College as it was called back then. I lived at home for undergraduate as did 3 of my brothers for their teaching degrees, but when I had to go to the city to get graduate degree it was arranged for me to live with an aunt and uncle there. We believe the academics and the family/church tie is more important than the college "experience" of dorm life etc. Also you save a lot of money. We have all graduated debt free over the years.

  • Terry April 14, 2017

    Cooked all meals at home. My pantry challenge goes very slowly since there are only two of us and my husband eats very little. I try to cook mainly out of freezer and pantry supplies . this week I knew hams would be on special and Winco had a coupon 10$ off 40$. I picked up a shank end ham. Hubby boned it out for me. Saved 4 ham steaks for breakfast meals. Froze 5 packages of meat and two containers of meat and broth from pressure cooking the remainder. Gave the bones to a very happy dog after the pressure cooking and made a big pot of bean soup out of the remainder. We will be enjoying ham meals for a long time to come. Still too cool and breezy here to work outside much. Garden is still a distant promise. I did plant snow peas but I don't see them coming up yet. We lost most of our roses and raspberries to a really hard winter. Spring promises to bring lots of work

  • ElisaB April 14, 2017

    When I was a kid I used to save up my babysitting money to go to the ballet. My mom would just drop me off, as nobody else wanted to go. I had a friend whose father was a well known classical musician. He got us free tickets to go to the opera. I loved going to those type of things.
    I am almost finished with my husband's costume for the French medieval festival. Just have the pants to make. I am about half done with my medieval dress. I got the material from a set of new sheets that I found at a thrift store.
    I wanted to find a pair of leather sandals for the summer. I found a brand new pair of Clark's sandals at Goodwill for $7.99. I had tried on a pair of Clark's at a high end store the week before for $80. Glad I didn't buy those!
    My last haircut was a $55 disaster. In my community it is difficult to get a haircut for less than $50. To make a long story short, my hair was horrible with layering on one side and none on the other. I was unhappy everything I looked in the mirror. So I asked my husband, if I cut the sides, would he do the back? He agreed but I am not sure how happy he was with the idea. I told him I had total confidence in his abilities. The end result was wonderful and I am so happy!
    We went to a retirement party. The food was pretty bad - chicken wings (not too bad) and corned beef tater tots (yuk) but it was free food.
    Our condo building has a spot to deposit or pick up free books. I have found some really good ones lately.

  • Janet April 16, 2017

    Everything in our area keeps going up 4 years ago a hair cut was $27 with a tip it was $30 now it is $48 without a tip. It is outrageous!
    Where is the money to come from? It all goes into what we eat and needed items like electric.
    Our water has gone up our trash collection bill has gone up, our electric has gone up. We added the twin girls I take side jobs to help out but frankly at 55 I'm exhausted just trying to help the kids out with the grand babies.

    Frugal this week I found a very nice basket at the goodwill and made a home made basket for my Grandson his first . I am very excited!
    A neighbor gave us a bike that is larger than the one he rides now so that is a major blessing!
    I am busy prepping for the community yard sale in June and I have a lot set aside I still want to add some.
    I hope to earn over $300 this year. I worked four days this last week doing odd jobs for people around the area.
    We do the Nat'l parks too and in our area that is a lot of parks!
    The one really nice thing about this area is our date day is Sunday's after church we go to eat (Usually share a meal about $10) then go to a park or free museum and make a lovely day of it. (If we don't have the money to eat out we do a picnic and if it is really cold we have even done a picnic in the car / while sitting and looking at a park)
    I bought two blouses and a jacket at the good will on senior discount day ( I'm unhappy with the shirts but I will gift them away and the jacket was worth what I paid for all three even a great deal for what I paid for all three)
    I sold four items this past week all small stuff but I am still working on cleaning out the house as we will move at some point and we have enough for 10 families.
    I fixed a clock this past week too saving it from a landfill.

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