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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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  • mdoe37 April 10, 2017

    Ah yes, boy scout camp. I don't have any kids and seem to be very short-handed with help around the house (long story). Last spring, the neighbor boy stopped and asked if I had seen a cat around the house. I went outside to look with him and laughingly mentioned the sorry state of my shrubs on their side of the property. He stopped short and asked if I needed help. Uh, well, are you looking for work? Yup, gotta save for boy scout camp and I have to legitimately earn a portion of the money by doing jobs for someone other than family.

    He had no clue how much to charge and said $2 an hour. I'm not one to take advantage. $5 an hour may sound pricey, but you can't hire landscaping, gardening, organizing and cat tending help for any where near that cheap. He cleaned out my garage while I was gone for a week....did a great job with absolutely no supervision. I think we will be replacing some small garage windows this year AND he's already lined up to paint the block around the bottom of the house.

    13 years me a kid-of-all-trades!!!

  • My boys are happy to have this kind of work. I have a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old, and they love getting hired to do jobs for people to earn money for camp. I'm glad that you're able to have this boy help you; I'm sure he is thrilled for a chance to earn money for camp!

  • Mable April 12, 2017

    You ARE lucky. I pay $12 an hour for a teen to help with yard work and am having trouble finding one for this spring and summer. I miss the young man who started with me at 14 and left this year to go to college---he got so good I could just tell him where to plant things and he knew exactly how to do it. I email him periodically to tell him how much I miss him and what a huge help he was to me.

  • Melissa V April 10, 2017

    We had an incredibly beautiful weekend - the sunshine and 60 degree temps were such a mood lifter for me and I was able to get the trailer we are flipping completely scrubbed down, the curtain rods all painted and the curtains I made hung and all the cushions I recovered put in. It is also staged for showing it to potential buyers. We are having to sell it "as is" since my hubby's health problems are worsening and he can't get the plumbing and gas lines hooked up. Just pressure washing it and painting the tongue and bumper did him in for 2 days. The sale of this will help pay bills while I am not able to work after surgery. I keep making these huge lists of things I want to accomplish in a day and am getting frustrated that i can no longer work physically like I used to. I am going to have to rethink how I write my "things to do" lists to make it more accurate to what I CAN accomplish. I think that is THE most frustrating thing of getting older (and my Dad agrees too :) ) So, this week:
    * My Dad taught me how to tile and grout a floor and wall and my master bath has an actual floor now, not just plywood underlayment. I am SO loving how it looks. The tile was leftover from a cousins remodel and they gave us all of the leftovers + Dad had leftover grout from his bathroom remodel. I did run out just shy of the whole thing but another bag will get us thru the main house's bath as well! So pretty much the only cost was my sore knees :)
    * We ate ALL meals at home - It is hard to find restaurant food that has no onion or garlic, no msg or preservatives. Dinners included Pad Thai, Palak Paneer, burgers on the grill, salads with grilled chicken and meatballs with sauce (the guys use the bottles store sauce - I make my own) and many nights were leftovers (I need to work on not cooking like I am still feeding 2 teen athletes)
    * While I was tiling with my Dad, my Mom made up bathes of gluten free banana and pumpkin muffins for easy breakfasts for me out of things I already had on hand.
    * My red peppers are already up 2 inches in the South window. I still need to plant the hot peppers. I used gift tag stickers on the side of the tray and wrote what each variety is. I have other markers I will use outside when I transplant them (paint sticks painted in bright colors with a heavy clear-coat to protect them)
    * The one transplanted grape vine appears to have made it thru the winter! One less thing I will need to purchase :)
    * My MIL gifted us with some brand new, very expensive towels that were too heavy for my FIL to use.....they are worthless. I have washed them 3x in an attempt to get them more absorbent but for whatever reason they are just NOT as good as the cheaper towels I have gotten at Kmart (Ours was one of the stores to close so I'll have to try Walmart) so I think I am going to sell them on Craigslist and use the money to purchase a cheaper towel to go in the master bath.
    * We sold "The Bus'" pull-out loveseat couch and put the recliners we were gifted from my in-laws (we get ALOT of I mean stuff they don't want anymore - alot of it never leaves my car and goes to Goodwill immediately!) The money went to bills.
    * I helped a friend sort thru her mother's hoard (and yes, her mother is hoarder.....she has been as long as my friend remembers) and since I have lost quite a bit of weight, I was desperately in need of some clothes - I think I have more clothes right now than I have ever had in my life!! And alot of very nice dress clothes, lots of shirts and some jeans and capris, an absolutely gorgeous wool coat + a black trash bag full in my daughter's size as well, including a Land's End jacket from when they still made very, very high quality things (the wool thickness is unbelievable AND it is such a classic style it will work for many, many years). It was like Christmas hehe + I got several kitchen items I was in need of as well. I have thanked her many times over because there just isn't money for me to shop for a new wardrobe, even 2nd hand right now!
    * I visited the "pet pantry" to get the cats some canned food and litter.
    * I put tighter elastic in some of my too big jeans and made them into my outside work jeans - I am definitely NOT a stay clean gardener LOL. All my jeans have grass stained knees and dirt stains where I wipes my hands off...and I usually have to wash my feet before bed since I do almost everything barefoot in the summer or in crocs which aren't any good for keep your feet clean :D
    Joy: Watching my dogs dig to China in the yard (no I don't care and they look so incredibly happy while they are doing it), seeing all the daffodils and violets in blossom and playing with my new ducklings. I think that about covers it. Hope all of you have a safe and frugal week.

  • Andrea Q April 10, 2017

    You could try soaking the towels overnight (start with hot water) with a double measure of regular (not homemade) laundry detergent, then wash a couple of times with no additional soap to completely rinse it out. No fabric softener or dryer sheets. Sometimes that helps break down the manufacturing chemicals. I was given a set of expensive towels that started out like that...once they were broken in, they were great and lasted 20 years before being made into rags.

  • Melissa V April 11, 2017

    Thank you for the tip!! I will try that and hopefully that will do the trick!

  • Juls Owings April 22, 2017

    I've washed mine in hot water and vinegar , no softener or dryer sheets which will actually make your towels less absorbent

  • Janet April 10, 2017

    Is it just our family or are times getting tougher?
    Mended four clothing items using up all items in fridge and freezer made baked apples out of free apples worked five extra shifts to help out with bills kept all electric off as much as possible washed cars by hand at home stayed home and sold many items still listing more considering doing the community garage sale extra earnings this past week $122
    Still working on decluttering the house and cleaning it is a very slow process around here I clean up a mess they make five more I declutter a room they bring home two rooms full of things people gift to them I try not to grow weary hubby celebrated 70 year birthday this past weekend we have grand sons birthday and of course Easter yet this coming week wow life is moving fast

  • Mandy April 11, 2017

    It's not just you, things are getting tougher at my house, too!

  • Kim April 12, 2017

    Things are tougher here for us. I left a job a year and a half ago expecting nag to find a new job soon. I still have not found a full time job. A part-time job is my only option at this time and while that will help, it's not going to replace the income. We can't afford to hire out any job we can do ourselves. We're mending and repairing more and limiting anything absolutely necessary.

  • Cindy in the South April 13, 2017

    Things are tough for me also. Life has seasons, but I am tired of this tough season, going on eight!!!

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

    Ahh I know the pain too well. Yesterday we talked with the kids about the great recession and how it impacted our family. And that's been nearly 10 years npw!

  • Athanasia April 14, 2017

    I'd say there are more obstacles to success these days. We're all working class, no millionaires or billionaires among us. Fortunately we live in an area of just under 4% unemployment but I see folks having a harder time having leftovers for saving after bills are paid. My husband is self employed and the work he does depends on buyers realizing they want a higher quality product than mass produced big box store offerings.

  • Stephanie C. April 19, 2017

    Its been tough for us too. My husband has been out of work since October. He's been through 2 corporate lay offs due to reorganizations in the last 5 1/2 years.! The last time was in 2012, it took over 1 yr for him to regain employment. I can't plan or think about anything in the future due to the instability of his career.

  • cathy April 20, 2017

    Everything is more expensive. I am frugal by nature and just about go into shock when I go to the store. My husband and myself do everything and still we can't get ahead. We have 4 kids and 2 grandchildren. When I have to feed all of them it is so expensive. I haven't been finding good sales. Ugh. I will try to garden more and look for items at farmer's markets. I can, freeze and dehydrate them. I am using my dehydrated tomatoes. They are awesome. I guess where there is a will, there is a way.

  • sue April 10, 2017

    I'm so glad you are going to the symphony , have a wonderful time Brandy.
    At the discount grocery store , I picked up a boneless deli style ham for $.99/lb. My sister decided to host Easter so now I need to figure out what to do with it. Wish I had a meat slicer to make it super thin for sandwiches. Also went to the 50% off sale at my local thrift store. Picked up 2 jeans, 1 capris, 4 shirts and a planter for $20. I've lost weight, so I really was in need of some new things. I've gone through my entire wardrobe and have 3 garbage bags to donate. I just need some more shorts or capris and I'm set. Have a good week.

  • Rhonda A. April 11, 2017

    Sue, you could slice the ham into thicker slices to use as ham steaks and any ham pieces that are too small for a steak can be cubed up to use in soup, casseroles or on homemade pizza. We like to marinade ham steaks in a honey mustard sauce, but I'm sure there are other recipe ideas on the net. You could also try slicing the ham thin with a very sharp knife for sandwich meat or try mashing some of the cubed meat to make a "flakes of ham" type sandwich filler. Hope this helps!

  • Sue April 11, 2017

    Thanks Rhonda!

  • Rhonda A. April 12, 2017

    I often buy up several of these types of hams around the holidays when they are super cheap. At first I had my husband take them to work (he a cook) and use their meat slicer to shave up the meat, but eventually we invested in our own meat slicer. I cut them into ham steaks, shave into sandwich meat and cut the end pieces into cubes, then package it up into usable portions for the freezer. This way we just pull it out as we need it. Great way to save on meat costs and provide variety to your meals throughout the year...Brandy taught me that!

  • Marybeth April 11, 2017

    We love ham omelets for dinner and ham and lentil soup.

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