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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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  • Jennifer April 12, 2017

    I do my ham up in small dice for omelettes and quiche and a larger chunk for casseroles and soup.

  • Lilllanna Pickles April 10, 2017

    I spent a couple of days with my daughter up at her college apartment. I am pretty stocked up on everything for myself, so I went couponing with my weekly 45.00. I started out with some high dollar coupons and did quite a bit of rolling at CVS. In the end I had 3 large packages of personal care products to give to a friend. I got 150.00 worth of items for my daughter. She is stocked up on TP, laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant and other girlie items. She was delighted and actually walked away with rewards in the amount I started out with. I ordered her seven magazine subscriptions from several free sites. We ordered various trials and samples. My favorite thing was ordering several coupons fcom Recycle Bank. The daughters local grocery store accepts competitor coupons that mine does not accept. I imagine some time in the next month we will make a huge shopping trip. We should be able to get 120.00 worth of groceries for free shipping for boots and loss leaders. Who knows what we will get, but ultimately I will be happy to have anything we find.

  • Florrie April 11, 2017

    Just a friendly heads up about free magazine subscriptions. My 2 free one year subscriptions were an extension of something I purchased online, so I did give vendor my credit card number. After eleven months, my subscriptions were automatically extended for three times the regular cost! There were no company names on my credit card bill, and no live voice to talk to when I called. Recording said my subscription was going to be cancelled. Well, it was not cancelled because the magazines kept coming. I called many times, and each time recording said it was cancelled. After two years of that, I finally had to cancel my credit card. If you didn't give your credit card number for postage or any related purchase, you should be fine. What happened could have even a fluke, but hopefully, my mistake will help someone in the future.

  • Florrie, you don't have to give out any credit card information with Recyclebank or RewardsGold to get free magazine subscriptions. I have gotten many free magazines this way for years. I'm sorry your experience was different.

  • Jen A. April 10, 2017

    Estate sales are the BEST for used household goods. Do you subscribe to I find it extremely useful.

    Some of this week's savings:

    * We took trips the past couple of weekends and in both cases, we turned off the router and digital thermostat to save electricity while traveling.
    * Washed and saved good-quality plastic serving utensils (tongs, big spoons) left from a catered party to reuse for camping.
    * Saved water from rinsing a jam jar and cottage cheese tub for use as the water in our overnight slow-cooker oatmeal.
    * Cut my own hair.
    * Donated 20+ books to the Little Free Library to the local police division headquarters, came back with three new-to-us books: soil science for me, a Louis Sachar for my son, and a biography to donate to my son’s school library.
    * Made and froze 14 servings of baby food in reusable jars (6 carrot, 6 buttered carrot, 2 mashed pear, 3 oatmeal, 1 refried beans)
    * Line-dried laundry including all cloth diapers.
    * Made coffee at home from home-roasted beans.
    * Took my son to a free event at the library.
    * Washed and saved a cereal-liner bag. It took grilled-cheese sandwiches to school and carried sugar packets to Cub Scout family camp.
    * Ate leftovers from our party.
    * Bought chicken thighs on sale.
    * Put the children’s school photos in frames purchased used at a thrift shop.
    * Received a bag of coffee grounds from Starbucks. Worms love coffee grounds and will ultimately improve the soil near our tangerine tree.
    * Picked up a bag of recycling left next to the dumpster at my kids’ school. The return value will be donated to our Cub Scout pack recycling fundraiser.
    * Saved 90 percent off a quality-brand springform pan by buying used from Goodwill. I will use it to make midnight torte.
    * Used stamps that were gifted to us in exchange for helping a friend clean out her late mother’s home.
    * Ordered two books for the kids from the library instead of buying from the Scholastic catalog.
    * Saved water by draining ice-chest water onto oregano starts.
    * Collected water from a dripping faucet to water new front-yard plants including yarrow and oregano.
    * Our emergency kit stockpile included several ponchos that we could use in case of rain at Cub Scout family camp, avoiding the need to buy new.
    * Our emergency kit stockpile semi-miraculously contained an exact replacement for the multitool knife I "donated" to TSA last week!
    * Took the kids to a newly opened “fruit park” in our area and after chatting with the naturalist for a while, was happily gifted with a huge bag of tomatoes, limes, peppers, cilantro and onions.
    * Frugal plant propagation using saved plastic nursery pots: 10 pineapple salvia cuttings & 5 borage seedlings. I will give these away to friends or plant in a nearby communal garden space.

    COOKED AT HOME: Kale-sweet potato-black bean skillet. Overnight oatmeal. Coffee. School lunches. Steamed green beans and green bean puree for the baby. Breastmilk! Big German pancake (“Dutch baby”). Slow-cooker sweet potatoes. Cucumber fridge pickles.

    HARVESTED: Borage flowers for a future tisane, the last of the tangerines, thyme for cooking.

    COMPOSTED/FED TO CHICKENS: Contents of kitchen-sink trap, coffee grounds, drier lint, overripe produce, avocado rinds, all the eggshells from our Cub Scout den's camping breakfast, et al.

  • I have never heard of that site but I will check it out! Here the estate sales tend to be when the garage sales are going on, as most community associations only allow sales twice a year at their semi-annual garage sales.

    How are you using your borage blossoms for tisane? By themselves or with something? Borage grows so easily and always flowers right away for me so I am curious for more ways to use the flowers.

  • Jen A. April 15, 2017

    By themselves so far! I got the idea from the YouTuber Jake Mace (he gardens edibles extensively in the Arizona desert; his channel is "VeganAthlete"). You could definitely combine them with lemon balm or such but so far I've just been collecting a handful of dropped flowers every time I'm out in the yard. It would go faster if I picked flowers off the plant but I don't want to steal pollen from the bees ("bees love borage"). I've just been dropping them in a jar as they come in and they dry and shrivel easily. I actually haven't tasted it yet. I'll let you know how it turns out!

  • Lorna April 11, 2017

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :D . Brandy I am so happy that you were able to find a nice dress for yourself for such a good price, are able to go to the symphony and got some wonderful items off your needed garage sale list for good prices too :) .

    We have had a very exciting week having seen the bank and have been told we now have enough money saved to borrow for our own house :D . We have been taking our house plans around to builders to get a cost , looking at blocks of land and ready built homes available on the internet and of course lots of planning too.

    Here is our frugal accomplishments for the week -

    Financial -
    - This week we have banked $33.77 into our saving for our home with cash which brings our savings up to 19.36% of our target.
    - Used $55.20 earned in my internet craft shops to pay for groceries that needed topping up in the home. This will allow us to save more money for our home next month.

    Groceries -
    - Purchased 22 tins of chicken meat at 22.7% off regular prices to stock up our grocery stockpile saving $6.38 on regular prices.
    - Bought 4 containers of deodorant on 20% off special to top up supplies saving $4.80 off regular prices.

    General household and kitchen -
    - Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    - Washed, diced and froze capsicums picked from the gardens.
    - Made a lovely cucumber juice from excess cucumbers picked from the gardens.
    - Combined errands when going out to save on fuel costs.
    - Used saved grey water from our showers and washing machine to water the lawns with rather than using town water.
    - Used our solar lanterns at night rather than turning on any mains powered lights.

    Gardening -
    - Mulched around planted seeds that sprouted with saved dried and shredded leaves instead of buying hay.
    - Thinned and replanted silver beet and spinach seedlings that were too close together.
    - Harvested cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and capsicums from the gardens.

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks April 11, 2017

    Oh Lorna, let me be the first to congratulate you on meeting your savings goal for your house!! You have been SO inspirational week after week with your sacrifice and frugal ways. I am thrilled for you that you can now move forward with this next chapter in your life. Enjoy looking at plans and land, knowing that you are finally going to accomplish your dream :) SO very happy for you after all of your hard, hard work!!

  • Lorna April 11, 2017

    Hi Lynn and thank you for your encouragement :) . We have been working long and hard and hopefully it will eventuate in our dream house being built or purchased already built.

  • Cindy S. April 11, 2017

    Congratulations Lorna! You have worked so hard on saving for your house-good job! Have fun now looking for the right home.

  • Lorna April 11, 2017

    Cindy S thank you also for your encouragement :) .

    We are having fun indeed looking at houses and land, so many to choose from :o . We are preferably after 1 - 5 acres of land to build on or a property already built with near to what our specifications are.

  • TerriC April 11, 2017

    Yes congratulations Lorna! I love seeing people determined to do things accomplishing them!

  • momsav April 11, 2017

    I wanted to add my congratulations, too! It's a long road to saving such an amount; good for you and your husband!

  • Lorna April 12, 2017

    momav and thank you for your encouragement too :) and it is not easy to save a good deposit I have to say and took us just over 2 years to do that.

  • Lorna April 11, 2017

    Terry C and thank you for your encouragement too :) . We haven't taken out the loan yet with the bank but know how much we can borrow and are in the preliminary stages of working out the costs to see if we have enough money with the known loan amount.

    We will keep you all updated.

  • Jlynn April 11, 2017

    Congratulations Lorna!!!

  • Lorna April 12, 2017

    Jlynn and thank you for your kind words as well, I knew eventually we would get there. It does seem a long road to take but with persistence we got there.

  • Lorna, congratulations!

  • Lorna April 12, 2017

    Brandy thank you for your encouragement and it is partly because of your inspiration and wonderful recipes and ideas from both yourself and your wonderful contributors that we have saved to much :) .

    Incidentally we just love your granola and oatmeal cookies and other recipes and have printed them out for our own use. They are all absolutely delicious and very low cost.

    We are off to see 3 houses and 2 blocks of land tomorrow and will update you as we make progress. We are counting the costs of our tower before we build or loan for it.

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