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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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  • Laurie in central NC April 10, 2017

    What a great deal with all the freebies at the yard sale, proof that it pays to ask! I'm excited for you being able to go to the symphony. It sounds like such a lovely date. I'd love to see your formal, if you don't mind sharing. I spent a lot of times working outdoors this weekend; the flowers and birds brought me much joy. Joining in here:

  • Katy April 10, 2017

    I always enjoy reading your frugal accomplishment posts, they are very inspiring. It's amazing how different lifestyles are across the country, especially when it comes to mileage. I live on a farm in rural South Dakota. We combine trips as much as possible and keep a well-stocked home, as the closest small-town grocery store is 20 miles away...closest Wal-Mart, etc. is an hour away, but we still put nearly 3,000 miles per month on our primary vehicle. Mostly traveling to work, school, etc. We love our rural lifestyle, but it definitely involves a lot of driving!

  • Cindy in the South April 10, 2017

    Rural farm life in the Dakotas sounds lovely! I love peace and quiet.

  • Susan April 10, 2017

    My Grandparents had a beautiful farm in a tiny town of Bonesteel, South Dakota. I have many fond memories.

  • Athanasia April 13, 2017

    Susan, how nice! Is the farm still in the family? I looked the town up to see where it was in the state. 100% rural, lots of Germans, basically a 0 crime rate...sounds nice. It looks like they're giving incentives to move there. I love rural life. Cities make me nervous.

  • mj April 10, 2017

    Great photos, and lots of productivity i see!

    This was our week:

  • Kelly April 10, 2017

    I went shopping at Goodwill, to see if I could find a dress to wear to a function later this month. I found a simple little black dress in my size. It was priced $6.89 BUT it had a grey tag on it which made it 75% off so I paid $1.72 for it!!! I can jazz it up with accessories and a shrug since it's sleeveless. Also got 3 tops one of which was 50% off so I got 4 pieces for under $12!

    Got several free magazines thanks to Recyclebank Rewards & My Verizon SmartRewards points.

    Booked a hotel room in Columbus Ohio for April 28th thru Expedia for $75/night! I am going to see my favorite Derek & Julianne Hough of Dancing With the Stars fame perform in their Move Beyond Tour. I paid a pretty penny for my ticket but it's my gift to myself in celebration of being 5 years cancer free as of 4/26/17!! Also my son's 13th Birthday! The hotel room has a King bed/Free WiFi & continental breakfast. Convinced Hubby to go & arranged to have his brother watch our son & the dogs while we're away for about 36 hrs tops! We haven't had a date night since 12/15! I will use Uber to get to & from the theater with a free ride code from a coworker who is an Uber Driver in her spare time.

  • momsav April 10, 2017

    Congratulations! That's a big deal! Momentous, even!!

  • Athanasia April 14, 2017

    Yes, Kelly, congratulations and enjoy your celebration.

  • April 10, 2017

    A new dress and a date to the symphony? Oh, how exciting! I am so happy to hear that you're able to get out of the house and have fun things to look forward to. Sometimes just going to the grocery store seems like a nice break for me (probably every mom feels that way occasionally).

    I continue to stay frugal by shopping the sales and using coupons/rebates whenever possible. Last week, I found $0.99 broccoli, $0.25 oranges, $0.99 body wash, and 4 FREE bottles of nail polish. I also have a free daily bagel at Panera in April. All of my deals with pics here:

  • ruthie April 10, 2017

    I have been diligently trying to use up my freezer food. I used a couple bags of frozen pumpkin to make a maple/pumpkin cake for Sunday dinner. We had five birthdays in March so I used up the tub of ice cream - except for about a cup which melted before we put it back in the freezer. So this week we had sliced strawberries (on sale) and I poured the melted ice cream on top which made a yummy cream sauce. I also had carmelized onions in the freezer which I put on top of oven fried potatoes. That was less successful but it freed up freezer space. I used up some frozen mashed potatoes. They tend to get mealy so I drained them and then added in some butter and a bit of cream cheese and heated them in the oven uncovered. They turned out great. I realized that everything put into the freezer needs to be labeled. I thawed out what I thought was a chicken breast, but turned out to be a small portion of pork roast. We ate it anyway, but I need to remember. I have several dozen eggs (mixed) frozen in 1 egg portions. I'm continuing to plow through them.

    We are doing some minor changes on our home and got an estimate for painting. It was close to $2000 so we have been spending our nights and Saturdays doing it ourselves, which will cost us about $200 instead - but lots of labor. It's given me a chance to go through cupboards and get rid of many things that we don't use.

  • I'm glad to hear how little it cost you to paint the house yourselves. Our house could use a new coat of paint and I know we'll need to do it ourselves sometime in the future.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC April 12, 2017

    Our locally owned paint store gave me the contractor's discount when I asked for it. I go out of my way to go to this store both for the discount and the paint quality. It never hurts to ask.

  • Linda Shields April 12, 2017

    Sometimes I combine cans of leftover paints to create a new color (one of a kind!) while using up old paint and saving $. My laundry room has a rather Martha Stewart-ish shade of greenish blue that I love! Just try to avoid making mud colors with bad combinations :-)

  • Mandy April 10, 2017

    I am so glad you get to do something you love after all this time! I hope to see an opera someday.
    Last week:
    I took some of my "mad money" that I have saved to take advantage of a great deal on butter at Aldi. It was marked down to $1.99 in their flyer. When I got to the store it was marked down to $1.89, plus gallons of milk were .77 each! The butter was limit 6, so I purchased 6 plus one gallon of milk. I have done no other grocery shopping in the last week.

    I keep a running list of groceries we need in our kitchen. I have been able to cross off most of the list as I find a suitable replacement for the "needed" item or find what I thought I was out of hiding in the pantry or cupboard. I really need to find time to reorganize.

    I was gifted a large bag of pistachio nuts ( in shell). I used 1 cup to make pistachio milk that I have been wanting to try. I put the ground pistachios into the oven, dried them out, and added them to the granola I made. I finally made applesauce from the apples I was given and got 2 big jars full. Used canned grape juice (from gifted grapes) to make gelatin (from gelatin powder I forgot was in my pantry). I cooked a big pot of black beans for meals for the week.  I made taco soup (Brandy's recipe) for my lunches for the week, black bean burgers, and froze 2 1/2 cups for later use. I cooked a pot of pinto beans and made refried beans for burritos and tacos this week. I froze 2 jars so they wouldn't spoil. I made chocolate pudding (Brandy's recipe from her popsicle recipe), scalloped potatoes and ham using potatoes that needed using up and ham that has been in the freezer for a couple of months.

    wrote out a dinner meal plan on a small dry erase board on my fridge to avoid eating out.

    planted seeds in egg cartons to sprout using saved egg cartons and soil we already had

    exchanged books/movies at the library

    made more reusable cleaning wipes (vinegar, water, essential oils)

    I hung laundry on my racks inside to dry (either to cold or rainy to hang them on my outdoor lines yet). Black clothes go through 10 minutes in the dryer first to remove pet hair, lint, etc. Sunday I FINALLY had a warm, sunny day to hang laundry on the outdoors clothesline!

    I turned the heat off on Sunday :)

    I applied for a couple of jobs online, saving gas and wear and tear on our vehicle.

    I ground up a huge jar of cleaned egg shells in my food processor and sprinkled them around my apple trees to hopefully add calcium to our soil. My apples did not do so well last year and I am hoping to remedy the problem.

    My temporary job is guaranteed through this Wednesday but after that I could be done or get a few more days. My boss is not sure yet. The company provided lunch for all of us today (Monday) so I saved my soup for Tuesday and ate free Sandwiches, chips, and cookies.

    I spent some time re-reading past blog posts on this website :)
    Have a great week everyone!

  • Marcia April 10, 2017

    I am jealous of those who can garden already--I did my first weeding in a flower bed today but as soon as I went out it got quite windy--which of course, died down as soon as I came back in. It was 72 but just a week ago we had 4 inches of snow so today was my first real chance to get out there. I received some new perennials I had ordered in today's mail but I had more to do in the bed I want to put them in than I realized--only got it about half done today before the wind started bothering my asthma! Hopefully it won't rain ALL DAY tomorrow and I'll be able to do some more. Before the snow last week we had a day and a half of pretty heavy rain--so last week was spent mainly in the house. I did get some papers gone through and made some good meals, but all in all, didn't accomplish the things I really would have preferred to--outdoors! Our frost free date isn't until the end of May anyhow, but clean up is certainly possible now, when it's dry.

    I did try a new Mexican casserole yesterday--which husband LOVED. it has rice, ground beef, black beans, tomatoes, and cheese--how could he NOT like it? I was going to save the leftovers until tomorrow but he ASKED for it tonight, so that is what we will have. Prep for today involved grating some more cheese and starting the oven. Easy night for me. I also made a double recipe of granola today---in the past couple weeks I have used up some dried diced apples that were ready to be gotten rid of. Today I added a few apricots in the bottom of the bag so I could get those used too. Great use for bits of nuts and fruits that have been hanging around a while. Last week's meals also included two nights of bratwurst (5 sausages to a package.) Since I require low fat diet, I cook the sausages in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes or so and the grease cooks right out of them and into the water instead. That way I get low fat sausage at sale prices. One night we had them with au gratin potatoes and broccoli. Another night I split them and reheated with hot pepper cheese, which we had in buns with a tossed salad and corn for sides. Pizza (homemade with turkey pepperoni) also lasted two nights! Plus I made two small pies--coconut cream for me, vanilla cream for husband--quick and easy just because I wanted coconut--which he does not care for. Worked out well for us. This week is his birthday so another pie will be on the menu---he never chooses CAKE. Costs stay pretty low when one package of meat lasts two nights, for sure.

  • Mandy April 11, 2017

    I can't garden yet, either. Still to cold here. I did start some seeds growing so they will be ready to transplant when it warms up enough.

  • Terry April 10, 2017

    Death in the family last week so schedules have been off as well as sleep. I baked cinnamon bread and took eggs over to my brothers house . the next night we had potluck dinner. I made several dozen rolls and a big macaroni salad. Told my daughter she could take the leftovers home. I've been using up bits and dabs from fridge. Thawed out butternut squash, chicken and stock, and black beans to use it n meals this week. Made the chicken and stock into soup with some rather limp veggies from the fridge. Black beans got made into chili. I shopped at the thrift store for a summer dress. Also found a black silk jacket that fits me and cost almost nothing but is likely the finest garment I've ever had. Other than family meals we ate all meals at home and spent only 32.00 on groceries so far for the month

  • Cindy S. April 11, 2017

    I'm sorry for your loss, Terri. I hope brighter days are ahead for you.

  • Athanasia April 14, 2017

    Terry, I am sorry for your loss. I pray you and you family find comfort in the days and months ahead.

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