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Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Two Weeks

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Wren on Halloween The Prudent Homemaker

My children used costumes and costume elements we had on hand for their Halloween costumes. One of the costumes my 13-year-old son had put together earlier this for his sister (I shared it in an earlier post) but he realized a particular hat we had worked as a musketeer hat, so he went as a musketeer, combining clothes he had with dress up elements from other costumes.

Ezrom Halloween The Prudent Homemaker

I signed up for a free one-month trial at Adapted Mind to check out their reading comprehension, math, and science programs. I have been looking to add more reading comprehension activities into our homeschool lessons, and with so many grades to teach, having something that corrects the answers for me is really helpful for my time. I'm not sure that I want to pay for this site after the trial is over, so I did a search for free reading comprehension sites, and found quite a few (this page lists 11). I'll be checking these out rather than purchasing some new reading comprehension workbooks, which is what I had been considering.

I had a video call via Facebook with a friend in France. He had a friend there when we spoke, and his friend said that my French was perfect! I know I still make mistakes, but I had no problem understanding or being understood. The French study I began a few years back to help me remember has really paid off. I continue to learn new words and expressions by doing more free online studying.

I canned 8 pints of sweet pickle relish using Armenian cucumbers from the garden, onions purchased on sale at $0.38 a pound, and bell peppers that were given to us.

I gave a son a haircut.

I downloaded the free Lose It! app to help me count calories after a reader mentioned it. It's really fantastic. It also counts calories burned through exercise, including housecleaning, gardening, and breastfeeding, which are my own personal calorie burners (Nursing a baby didn't burn much, and I had a sneaking suspicion that I wasn't losing much that way, so the confirmation of my feelings about that was interesting). I like that I can scan a UPC code and it can immediately give me all of the information about a food that way. I have been a little lax about my calorie intake (in other words, a little too generous in my portions and munching while cooking) and so have not been losing baby weight like I had hoped. This has given me a new motivation and I have set a weight loss goal between now and the end of the year. I'll set two more next year, but I like having some short-term goals to achieve rather than just a final weight-loss goal, as it helps to motivate me.

I decided to hold off on some purchases to see if they go on sale on Black Friday. I am also noticing that some stores are having pre-Black Friday deals, so I am watching the ads carefully.

I needed to mail in the children's homeschool notifications, which require them to be sent return receipt (and return receipt requires an additional certified mail sending). The postal clerk asked if I wanted to buy stamps. She told me first class stamps are going to go up in January or February by 5 cents each. I purchased additional stamps, as U.S. first-class stamps carry a "forver" rate, meaning that even though they are $0.50 each now, when the rate goes up to $0.55 each, they will be worth $0.55. I remember this was such a strange concept when they started doing this a couple of decades ago, but now it is a mini-investment. I pay most bills online/automatically, but I also send some perosnal notes and so even if the stamps last me a few years and the rate increases again, I will have stamps.

 

What have you done the past two weeks to save money?

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Fall Roses The Prudent Homemaker 

We had a rare bit of rain, so I turned off the drip irrigation and sprinklers for a couple of days.

I planted seeds in the garden for snow peas and green onions.

I harvested Swiss chard from the garden.

I purchased a few artichoke plants and herb plants on sale at the local nursery. I also purchased manure for the lawn (when you buy more than 10 bags at a time, you save $0.30 a bag, making them $1.99 for a 2 cubic foot bag). We took the trailer my husband built with us to pick up the manure and also a cubic yard of topsoil, lining our trailer with a tarp my husband got for free via Craigs' list. Picking it up ourselves saves a delivery charge. 

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

My eldest daughter was invited to go along with a friend on her family vacation out of state, so she enjoyed a trip to go camping on the beach and then they either were going to go to Knott's Berry Farm or Disneyland (I'll find out which one when she returns; they hadn't decided before they left).  Each of the family's daughters was able to invite a friend; they have only two girls left at home now, which means at least four girls got to have fun together.

What did you do to save money this past week?

 

 

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Fall Harvest 2018 The Prudent Homemaker

With beautiful weather this week, it was perfect to plant a fall garden.

I planted the bulbs I ordered back in July from Van Engelen, a wholesale supplier of bulbs. As long as you make the minimum order requirement, you can purchase bulbs from them for personal use at great prices. I planted peonies (of the earliest blooming type, planted at soil level here in zone 9), lilies, calla lilies, and anemones from them.

I sowed seeds in the garden for green onions, beets, lettuce, parsley, spinach, and arugula. 

Patty Pan Squash The Prudent Homemaker

From the garden, I harvested Swiss chard, basil, pears, patty pan squash, a zucchini, an Armenian cucumber, and a few pomegranates that split early.

I used produce from the garden and the store to decorate a table runner for our table for fall.

I read an e-book from the library on my phone.

I've had a cell phone for a year and a half now, since the local phone company raised taxes to equal the lowest cell phone rate I can find with service in our area. I got a "free" android phone (I had to pay the sales tax on it of $79; it's a ZTE) and I have a month to month deal with Metro PCS that is $30 a month--but actually we pay $25 a month, as my husband also has his phone (which is his work phone) there and they give you a $5 discount on each line for additional lines.

When I got a cell phone, we cancelled our home phone. My husband also no longer has an office phone, and all calls to his office come straight to his cell phone.

Our children do not have cell phones, but my eldest son chose to get a free Google phone number, and he makes and receives calls through our home wifi using a headset and his computer (he also texts with this number, using the wifi at home and free wifi when he is elsewhere and takes his computer with him). His computer is an old laptop that my brother gifted to him. As my son is on the phone a lot, helping people with their genealogy, he enjoys having his own number.

While running errands this week, I charged my phone in the car and listened to music using on Pandora. My eldest showed me how to turn on the Bluetooth in the car (seriously so easy but I had never done it) so that I can listen to my music stations on Pandora through the car's speakers. My husband was so excited about it that he did the same--and then just switched to directly plugging in the phone with a cord to the radio, so I did the same the next time I used the car. We don't have a data usage problem as we are usually on wifi at home (my husband works from home some part of every day and often the entire day several days a week) and our data for the month is 4 GB, but then it just slows down; we are not charged for going over.

I downloaded a free music flashcard app on my phone to help my daughters cement their knowledge of music notes while I brush their hair. 

We continued to use free sites for school, including typing.com, duolingo.com, tonictutor.com (a music note site)  and xtramath.org.

I took 8 of our 9 children to a free orchestra concert at the high school.

While I wait for the shower to warm up (collecting water in a 3-gallon recycled icing bucket in the meantime) I have time to do 25 -35 repetitions of arm-toning exercises using hand weights I purchased at a garage sale for $3 several years ago. I had gotten out of the habit of doing this while I was pregnant and I am trying to make it a regular habit now. It's not much time, but I think every little bit that I can work into my day is a good thing and will add up, just as the tiny things I do to save money add up to thousands of dollars saved each year. I use exercises from this video.

While doing early-morning laundry, putting on makeup and curling my hair, I listened to The Book of Mormon in French using the free Gospel Library app.

I did more French study using free online sources and looking up some words using the free Word Reference dictionary. You can use their site or download their free app. I use the app a lot while messaging friends in France.

I made a batch of spray leave-in conditioner/detangler using a tiny squirt of regular conditioner in a large spray bottle of water. This saves me $8 a month over buying the large bottle of Infusium leave-in conditioner. 

I have been thinking it was time to spray the house again for bugs. It is very common to have a bug service here come to spray for bugs every month for between $30-$55 a month. We don't do that; instead, I purchased three 1-gallon containers of spray at Walmart about 4 years ago for $15 total and I spray the outside perimeter of the house on occasion. When my 8-year-old was sweeping under the table after dinner and found a large scorpion Tuesday night, I killed it (I had to stomp on it 6 times to kill it!) and then I decided that there was no time like the present and immediately went outside to spray for bugs, finding (and stepping on) a huge wolf spider right outside my front door when I started to spray. 

I am so glad it is cooler and soup is welcome on the menu again! This week I made Tuscan tomato bread soup, roast chicken, squash soup, mashed potatoes, paninis, bean and rice burritos (with pinto beans purchased in bulk and cooked outside in my solar oven), granola, yogurt, and crepes. I made large batches of most of these so that I didn't need to cook every day; lunches were leftovers almost every day this past week.

My husband and I had a date night at home. We had ice cream and played several games of Sequence.

Careful watching of my electricity usage (and nice weather!) brought in the amount $27 less than the week's projected amount from the electric company. 

Fall Harvest 2 The Prudent Homemaker 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

 

 

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Hamish Discovers Grass The Prudent Homemaker

Hamish discovers grass in this beautiful classic baby outfit that I purchased for $4 at a garage sale.

 

The weather was perfect this week. We enjoyed having the windows open all day long every day. We only had to use the fans for a few hours this past week.

I brought the electric bill down $43 this past week from what the electric company estimated by bill to be this month. Each week, I receive an estimated bill amount, based on past and current usage. I always challenge myself to bring it lower than the estimated amount. The week before I brought it down $10. My bill will now be $53 less than it would have been. I continue to be diligent in turning things off when not in use, using the lights less, even in the early morning before sunrise (For instance, I use the single light over the tub rather than the entire set of bathroom lights while showering, using one bulb instead of 8, and even though our kitchen has no windows, I keep the kitchen lights off as much as possible once the sun is up.) I have 8 days remaining and I am trying to bring the bill down even more, as always, though it will be more of a challenge this week as temperatures won't have dropped as much, so I'll have to be more creative and mostly more diligent about my electricity usage in order to achieve my goal of coming in under the estimated amount. Last week's electricity cost $22 for the week ($3.14 a day). I know I can get it just a little lower (just under $3 a day) when the weather is as good as this if I am diligent.

From the garden, I harvested Armenian cucumbers, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, peppermint, and chives. We cut lots of fresh peppermint for herbal teas, which we had with breakfast or else for snacks with either homemade bread or homemade oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies.

While pulling weeds, I accidentally pulled a branch of a bush that had been growing where it should not have been. It had rooted under the dirt, so I planted it in the garden where I am making a new hedge.

I used free samples of beauty products.

I made yogurt in the crockpot.

I am diligently working to use up as much as possible from our freezers this month. I want to use up the old things before the turkey, ham, and other harvest and holiday food sales of November and December. I cooked a ham this week, some whole chickens (I cooked two at once to save on natural gas as well as to save time on two busy nights; it was too windy to use the solar oven so they cooked together in one pan in the oven along with baked potatoes at the same time), and made some inexpensive things such as homemade Rice-a-Roni and several salads with leftover chicken and homemade salad dressing.

I mended a pair of jeans and the case for an item where the zipper had come unattached from the case.

I read an e-book from the library on my phone.

I collected shower warm-up water and used it to water potted plants in the garden.

I did some free French study, listening to YouTube videos the teach French.

Saturday was the community garage sale in our area, where several master-planned communities have garage sales. There are so many communities having sales on the same morning that it is impossible to visit all of them before lunchtime, when most people close up, even though the houses are all within a 2-3 mile radius. The people who live in these neighborhoods are only allowed to have garage sales two weekends a year on specific dates. The houses are close together; often, I can park in one place and walk to two or three houses having a sale next to one another.

This time, I went to the two neighborhoods that in the past have been the places where I've had great success in finding items on my list. The pickings were slim this year, though, with fewer sales and fewer items for sale. I noticed this trend in April as well. One neighborhood of about 75 houses usually has 30-50 sales. This time only 3 or 4 houses had items for sale in that tract.

Frustrated with not even finding many sales worth stopping at, I left those neighborhoods and went to other tracts close by.

I stopped at a sale that completely surprised me. First, I found some plastic links that babies play with, an item that was on my list as most of mine have gone missing. I then walked from the seller's driveway into the garage and found a plethora of classic baby boy clothing. This is not a style that one even finds for sale in this part of the country, but the seller had moved here from South Carolina, and she was selling smocked and other classic clothing. I have always wanted to buy these for my boys; I have bought a few for my girls online in the past, and I know that even on eBay, these clothing items go for $20-$30 each used, plus shipping! She was selling the outfits for $4 each (most being two-piece items, such as a smocked romper with a shirt underneath). She said if I bought a bunch, she would make me a deal, and she did, giving me an extra $15 off the clothing I purchased after I made a large pile! She also gave me a large bag of disposable nursing pads for free.

I also bought some clear plastic drawer organizers from her to use in the bathrooms ($1) each. I took them home and my eldest daughter was able to use one to organize hair supplies in the bathroom where the girls do their hair, and I used one for makeup and one for hair supplies in my bathroom, so three drawers were organized in my house this week. My daughter said the organization of the bobby pins made doing her hair faster the next morning. I love how a little organization saves time every day! If my mother had told me this as a child I wouldn't have believed her, as I always had a messy room, so mothers of children with messy rooms, take heart!

I found two men's ties for $0.50 each. One I will gift to my eldest son and the other to my husband for Christmas.

I bought two silicone baking mats for $0.25 each. I use these often for baking instead of parchment paper, and they're fantastic to line a half-sheet pan to freeze fruit that you don't want to stick together into one hard lump (such as berries or sliced peaches). I freeze them first on those and then put them into a freezer bag once the entire pan is frozen, so I can take out as many or as few as I would like. 

I purchased three boxes of new-in-the-box LED Christmas net lights to use outside for $3 a box.

At another sale, I found a small inflatable toddler pool that had only been used once by a grandmother when her grandchildren came to visit ($10). My children have been wanting one of these. At the same sale, I found several pairs of brand-new earrings (marked at $2 a pair) and a little toddler plate with a matching fork and spoon ($1).

What did you do to save money last week? 

 

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Yellow Roses The Prudent Homemaker

It cooled down this week to 85°F/30°C. I gladly turned off the air conditioner and opened up the house for as many hours as I could each day, only running it for a few hours each afternoon. By Saturday, it was 77°F and cool enough to turn off the air conditioner for the entire day. We will still need it a few afternoons next week, but we're now coming to the time when the weather becomes nice enough to have the windows open all day.

I harvested rosemary, garlic chives, Armenian cucumbers, New Zealand spinach, Swiss chard, a large zucchini (my first of the year) and red noodle beans from the garden.

My husband and I cut my husband's hair.

I signed up for a free account for two of my children to practice math skills at xtramath.org. Doing math on the computer seems to be more fun for them than flashcards, so I am hoping this will help them want to give even more time on mastering multiplication tables. 

My eldest boys had some free fencing fun at a church activity.

Octavius had some fun with his grandparents watching the airplanes take off at the airport.

I purchased Target's store-brand diapers when they had a spend $100 get a $20 gift card deal. While there, I checked out the clearance and was able to get several uniform polo shirts for two of my girls for $2.10 each! I like that they have some solid-colored shirts without sayings that are a bit more dressy than a t-shirt. 

With all the busyness in my life right now, I have been reevaluating how I use every minute of my time so that I am better able to accomplish what needs to be done. One thing that I am doing is working to become better organized. Drawers and other things become unorganized after a couple of months and then it takes longer to find things in those spaces, wasting precious time and causing frustration. To that end, I reorganized three drawers in the kitchen this week. I needed a new silverware organizer, as the one that we got when we were married 18 years ago is wearing out and doesn't properly fit the large forks that I purchased a few years ago when we needed more silverware (which were getting jammed and bent in the drawer because of not fitting). I purchased a few new organizers at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, using a bunch of 20% off coupons. As they take expired coupons, I took several with me. The drawer functions so much better now. Since I was reorganizing that drawer, I decided to do two others as well, just moving things around that I already had.

I had a couple of children help me reorganize the bottom shelf and below the bottom shelf in a kitchen closet for another time saver and frustration eliminator.

I had been thinking of replacing my diaper bag with a small tote bag. A close-by reader offered me some spray starch, to which I said yes. She then offered me a leather tote bag, to which I also said yes. When I looked at it, it turned out to be the perfect thing that I was wanting to replace a bag of mine that is 23 years old.

I canned 20 quarts of giardiniera.

Now that temperatures have dropped, I can start planting cool-season seeds in the garden. I planted seeds for parsley, lettuce, and beets.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

 

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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I spent the first part of the week organizing things to run as smoothly as possible for the end of the week, as I had surgery on Thursday to remove cancer from my head. It was growing in my hair next to my part, a place where I don't usually put sunscreen. I'll have stitches for the next three weeks and I imagine I'll have a swollen face for at least this week. One way I'll save this week is by not wearing any makeup, because it's a bit impossible right now! 

To save money this past week, I did the following:

I baked a carrot cake in a 9 x 13 pan. I didn't have cream cheese on hand to make icing, so I lightly dusted it with powdered sugar instead.

Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut red noodle beans, Armenian cucumbers, rosemary, Genovese basil, chives, and green onions from the garden. I picked some teeny-tiny cherry tomatoes from the garden as well to use in a pasta salad. They are so tiny that I put a slice of olive in with them so you can see how little they are; they are the size of blueberries! The heat we have here in summer makes them stop flowering, or if they do flower (these are in afternoon shade and just started flowering recently) they are still super tiny because of the heat.

Sun Gold Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

The Armenian cucumbers do well in our heat, growing huge. I still don't get a lot of them when it's really hot, so I am happy to have them grow to great lengths, as they don't get bitter like other cucumbers and can grow as long as my arm. This means I have a lot of cucumbers to eat but not always enough to make pickles (as sometimes just one or two are ripe). This week we ate them sliced thin in vinegar, cut into sticks and dipped in ranch dip made with Greek yogurt, put in green salads, and chopped in pasta salad.

I went to the library and checked out a large number of books with my three youngest daughters and my 2-year-old son.

I opened the windows and doors in the early mornings to cool down the house for a couple of hours each morning.

I used my solar oven to cook three meals. One of the things I cooked was a large batch of pinto beans. I made bean burritos one day with them. I made a huge pan of bean enchiladas with them another day, which we ate over three days. My corn tortillas were a little old (so they would break rather than roll), so I made the enchiladas lasagna-style, layering the tortillas flat instead and layering the filling between with three layers of tortillas. I also find this is a great way to make enchiladas when you don't have enough tortillas, as it uses just 18 corn tortillas in a 10 x 13 pan. You'll need more filling, but if you're using beans for all or part of it, it is still quite frugal.

When I cooked baked potatoes, I cooked enough to have leftovers for the next day. I usually cook 10 pounds for our family, but recently we have upped it to 15 pounds at a time, saving gas for the oven (and not heating up the house) and giving us more leftovers. Leftover baked potatoes cook really quickly as cubed potatoes on the stovetop with onions for breakfast, a great side dish to a fried egg or two. It also means use you can use less oil (I only use a couple of tablespoons for a 5-quart pan full of potatoes) which means less money and fewer calories.

My son went to a thrift store with his uncle. He found a pair of cowboy boots there that he liked. One boot was priced at $35 and the other at $15. He tok them up to the register and asked how much. They told him $5, so he bought himself a pair of boots.

My mom went to a couple of community garage sales and picked up a few items for me, including a polo shirt for my eldest son ($2) and ten brand-new wide mouth quart-sized canning jars for $0.40 each.

What did you do to save money last week?

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