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Frugal Accomplishments for the Last Two Weeks

There was no frugal accomplishments post last week because my computer died. I'm still waiting for a new one to show up. Thanks to my eldest son, I've found a workaround so that I can edit photos and posts until I have a working computer again (though it takes a lot longer, so I'm glad the new computer should be here by the end of the week!) Thankfully everything is backed up and I haven't lost anything.

I harvested green onions,garlic chives, Meyer lemons, and Swiss chard from the garden.

I covered more seedlings with jars to help them to grow faster in the garden.

I accepted two used garden pots for the garden from my parents.

Nightgown Detail The Prudent Homemaker

Flannel-backed satin nightgown

I sewed birthday gifts for a daughter using fabric I had on hand.

I mended a shirt and a dress. I replaced the elastic in three pairs of sweatpants for my youngest. I had elastic that I had bought in bulk on sale that I used to replace the worn elastic. I also replaced the elastic in a pair of dress pants for him.

I turned three long-sleeved blouses into short-sleeved blouses for a daughter. Short-sleeved blouses are more practical in our climate, and the long-sleeved blouses had been passed down to my fourth daughter with almost no wear because of that. Now she has three like-new blouses to wear. I added the buttons from the cuffs to my button jar.

I went through several drawers and cabinets in the house and ruthlessly decided on items to purge that hadn't been used in the last year. To make it easy for myself, I went through one cabinet or one to two drawers a day. I added these items to our garage sale piles. and started pricing items for my sale later this month. My mom also went through her house in the same way and added more things to my garage sale items. Several of my cabinets and drawers are now more organized, which is a great feeling.

Our piano teacher came to the house for lessons and saw our garage sale items stacked by the front door. She asked if she could buy items ahead of time. Of course! I sold her a game for $1. She also told me she had a bunch of items I could have for my sale that she'll bring by for me.

Eyelet Dress Bodice The Prudent Homemaker

Making the vintage-style eyelet dress bodice using the $1 bedskirt I purchased at a garage sale last fall.

I used the $20 gift card I earned from Target in February as a wedding gift for a couple who is registered at Target.

My mom takes a woman grocery shopping each week. The two of them give me all of their Monopoly pieces from the two stores in our area that are currently giving out game pieces (a promotional game). So far I have a couple of instant winners: a free donut or bagel and a free bottle of aspirin. Since my husband's office is in the same parking lot as one of these stores, I gave him the coupons; he can enjoy the donut and I'll add the aspirin to our medicine shelf.

I combined coupons, sales, and Target cartwheel offers to purchase the Easter candy for less that I will use to fill Easter eggs.

I gave two of my sons a haircut and my husband cut his own hair.

My eldest daughter was asked to work as a server for a wedding luncheon. Not only did she get paid, but at the end of the luncheon, the servers got to take home leftover cooked meat. She brought home a tray of cooked, diced chicken.

My eldest son watched the RootsTech conference online, where he was able to listen to several speakers as well as watch several online classes for free.


What did you do to save money these past two weeks?



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  • Anne March 04, 2018

    I adore embroidered/eyelet fabric and am so pleased you are making several things from the $1 bed skirt that you snapped up. It's so feminine. I'm sure the daughters are over the moon with the creations.

  • Stacy March 04, 2018

    Do any of your older kids have part-time jobs with regular hours?

  • My eldest just barely turned 16 and right now is studying heavily with college classes and to take the GED (which is required to apply for FAFSA as she is a homeschool student). We would prefer that right now she spend more time studying so that she can have good grades on her college transcript. She works odd jobs for people and has for years (cleaning houses, occasional babysitting, and other jobs), and because she doesn't have a regular position somewhere, she is one of the people available to take those jobs. She did look into working at several nearby places, but every place she looked won't hire anyone younger than 18.

    My eldest son is 14. He works odd jobs as well but has also had regular jobs working for a neighbor who is out of town for 6 months of the year (he watches the house and checks for leaks, and saved the owner from getting a ticket once) and pet sits for another woman in our neighborhood when she goes out of town.

    From the age of 12, our children attend camp and work to earn their own money for camp. This year I have four children who will be going to camp. Even though they're too young to work a traditional job, they'll all have money for camp by the time the money is due.

  • Stacey March 05, 2018

    My oldest is also working on her GED after being homeschooled. I didn't realize it was required for FAFSA. I'm so glad you mentioned it! My daughter is 18 and has worked very part time teaching swimming lessons year round for a community park district since she was 15. This job has made her eligible for grant money in our county to pay for her GED testing and potentially some college if she continues to qualify. They may also arrange a paid internship for her. She is working on becoming a nurse. We were so excited for her to receive these unexpected benefits, it will really help her college money to stretch.

    Also wanted to mention that we brought home a free sewing machine yesterday. As we drove home from a shopping trip, we noticed a big pile of stuff on the sidewalk with a free sign. We circled the block and found a like new Singer from 1985 with a case full of notions. I've been looking for something like this but the new ones are not in my price range right now. All it needed was a little bit of sewing machine oil and it's up and running. This will also go to my daughter for when she leaves home. I always read about other people's great finds and never usually find any myself. . . So grateful!

  • Stacey, one of my readers just said over on Facebook that she did NOT have to have the GED for FAFSA. She said a homeschool high school transcript worked fine for her daughter applying to school and that that they are supposed to be accepted in all 50 states now as well as for the military. I looked over a FAFSA handout last night that I got at the library and it looks like it might not be required (though the financial aid class we went to was telling us to have it). So you may be able to forego it. We still plan on having our daughter take it; we'll have to see about the other children.

    Also, a higher score on the GED can help with college acceptance, especially for homeschooled students.

  • Corinne March 05, 2018

    Hi, Brandy and Stacey, six of my homeschool students have attended and/or graduated college (BYU) and never needed the GED for FAFSA or entry. Every college has different requirements, so be sure to check the specifics for your desired school. In some areas, the GED for a young person is actually considered a detriment--again, it depends on what you are pursuing and with whom. But, in our 24 years of homeschooling, the GED hasn't been needed and our son currently at BYU just completed the annual FAFSA update. (I'm not anti-GED, just sharing my experience.)

  • pamela March 08, 2018

    Yes, yes, yes! Do NOT go the GED route. It IS CONSIDERED A DETRIMENT ...

    My eldest is graduating in May with a Liberal Arts Associates Degree and he was homeschooled all the way through high school. Your daughter needs a homeschool transcript and and test scores (ACT, SAT, etc). My son is fluent in French and will continue his education after his mission. He will be leaving at the beginning of June and will be learning a 3rd language.

    The military also accepts a homeschool transcript.

  • Juls Owings March 05, 2018

    My son said he thinks it's the Pell grant that requires the GED or at least was when he was looking at grants.They change so much from year to year.

  • Holly March 05, 2018

    My nephew had started a physical therapy assistant's program utilizing financial aid (and probably a Pell grant) at a community college and had completed quite a few classes successfully. Good, even excellent grades. But he had fallen hard for a young woman who lived four hours away. He quit college after the end of the semester and moved to her city. He assumed he'd be able to take up his studies more or less where he left off at one of that county's community colleges. Mistake. The fact that he had been mostly home schooled with a diploma from a non-accredited high school stopped him from enrolling in any of the community college's courses, at least with financial aid, without him passing the GED. He thought that was ridiculous since he had been a high school graduate at least a decade by then and had proven that he could easily handle college-level work. He instead went to a private college for medical assisting on a grant that would have been forgiven if he had completed the entire program. He aced all the classes. But the fool setting up internships at the school thought that because my nephew didn't have a regular job but rather was in a band with enough gigs to pay his bills, he should do only a full-time internship instead of a part-time one available to employed students. He tried, and failed. There are only so many hours in a day and he was a married man by then. So he now has a sizeable student loan to repay with no credentials to show for it. He still earns his living as a musician. My sister and her husband wised up regarding the importance of regional accreditation at the high school level for their next three home-schooled kids. The next oldest got her degree from an almost local regionally accredited school geared towards home schoolers. Girls two and three both got their regionally accredited high school diplomas from Penn Foster because it was the cheapest option. While some states restrict access to financial aid from Penn Foster graduates, my youngest niece got some Pell grants in her state while she completed her nursing associate's degree.

    In a posting on March shopping plans, I was going to use the $15 off $50 coupon Dollar General had offered through March 10. But Sunday, when I was planning my shopping trip, I noticed the $15 electronic coupon had vanished. Today, I got in contact with a Dollar General customer service representative. They had run into a systems or technical difficulty and removed it. Sigh!

  • Laurie in AZ March 05, 2018

    Congratulations on the sewing machine!

  • Stacy March 05, 2018

    I think the big one here was that one of my friends sent her son to public high school because he wanted to go into the military and the recruiter said they don’t take GEDs. I don’t think that is across the board, but it was for whatever branch he wanted to go into at that time.

  • Jennifer O March 06, 2018

    The Marine Corps does not take GED's. In a light recruiting era like we are in now, GED's aren't taken by any of the services. If you get an AA (after your GED) then they will, but just a GED no. In a heavy recruiting cycle (think after 9/11) the requirement change and GED's are taken (except by the Marine Corps).

  • Amy March 06, 2018

    The USAF can and will accept homeschool students. They just have to be graduates This was the case 20 years ago when I enlisted and after talking with those I served with it is still the same. As the parent, you issue your child a high school diploma and give a transcript if the recruiter requests it. If your state does not allow for that then they'll need a diploma from whatever approved homeschool program your state has. If the homeschool student gets a GED it makes it a lot harder for the recruiters to get them in. Other branches of the military have similar rules.

  • Lori @ MyVintageWhimsy March 04, 2018

    Hi everyone. I need to make it a point to post more often. I read weekly and just love all of the helpful hints I've gathered over the years.

    Anyway, a month ago my washer decided to die mid-cycle, filling the laundry room with smoke that smelled of burning parts. That washer was in the laundry room when I moved into my house nearly 2 years ago, and is much smaller capacity than my "real" washer (that I brought with me when I moved but have been keeping in the garage) so I'm in the midst of a total laundry room renovation. I am doing most of the work myself, along with SOs help, and my parents will help me install new paneling next weekend. Once that's up, I'll add shelves and have a lot more usable space to stockpile. Plus, my new chest freezer that was one of my Christmas gifts should fit in there!!

    I have been hauling my laundry to my parents house for the last few weeks to use their machines since we're in the middle of the laundry reno. She has a large capacity washer without an agitator, so what would have been 3+ loads for me in my old (now dead!!) washer, is only 1 load at her place. I'm saving on time AND money. My office is in her house, so i'm there almost daily anyway, so even though it would be quicker to do multiple loads at once at a laundromat, I am too frugal to spend the money on that when I can have access to her machines until we get my laundry room back up and running!

    Another frugal win: I am fencing off 2 more portions of my yard. My entire backyard is already fenced along the perimeter, but I am going to fence off another section within the backyard for the future garden area and an area for my clotheslines. I have leftover wire fencing from a previous project that is 6' tall, but I can easily use a grinder to cut it in half, making it 3' tall and doubling the amount of usable fencing material I'll have. Basically I need to keep my 2 pups out of the garden area, then out of the kids play area since we bought them one of those above ground inflatable pools for the spring and summer. That's a project that we'll complete soon.

    I went out of town on Friday and was able to stop by some discount grocers we don't have here locally. Back when I lived in the area I was visiting, the discount grocer was a lifesaver. Money was always an issue back then, and without this store, there's no way I could have afforded to have groceries some weeks. I stopped in Friday and stocked up on canned goods and the like. I don't get to this area often anymore but I enjoyed my time there on Friday. I packed my lunch bag too, as to avoid having to eat out all 3 meals. I gave up fast food for Lent, so I did have to have a "real" meal at a restaurant before starting the 4 hour drive home, but the rest of the meals that day were out of my little cooler bag.

    I pruned up my mums from last autumn. Well, actually, I think the ones in the big pots are from 2016. They're sold as annuals here but they've always come back for me, even when I lived in Maryland. I just broke off the dead parts, watered them, put them back on the porch in the sun. Looking good already!! I also checked some other perennials I bought on clearance last fall but never got planted. Some of them are salvageable and already growing. I'll put them in pots until I can get my front beds ready.

    That's all I can think of. I am hoping I'll get back to where I used to be soon. It's been chaos here for months!!

  • Elizabeth M. March 04, 2018

    I returned bottles and milk cartons for the deposits, which added $8 to my cash on hand.

    I made meals with the what was on hand. That included orzo, cooked in chicken stock, one time with chicken added and one time with it not. It also included potato pancakes for supper one evening, but which left enough leftovers to serve with scrambled eggs the next morning.

    I used an online tax program, which lets you decide what you will pay, to prepare my taxes. The suggested price range is less than what most programs sell for. The form is auto-filled by Canada's tax department with all the tax slips that they have received electronically. The taxes will be several hundred dollars less than I expected, so this was very good news.

    After waiting 3 and a half weeks, I finally got my computer back from the repair shop, so that I was able to start doing transcription again. This is a big relief income-wise.

    I attended my book club, which costs me only the price of gas. I also attended my college board meeting in person, which allows me to be paid for the travel expense as well as the meeting. It was the first time in a while that both the car was working and the weather was good enough for the drive there.

    Hope you all have a good week.

  • Marcia March 04, 2018

    I haven't been getting the Monopoly pieces this year. I wonder why? In any event, won lots of free items last year.

    This week we repurposed last year's science fair board for this year's project. I made big batches of fried rice, pasta, and bean burritos for the week. Still have leftover Curry lentil carrot soup in the freezer from last week.

    I also made homemade gluten free muffins. I found that the super expensive store up the hill from my house has the cheapest GF flour in town, in the bulk bins. Also made homemade salad dressing.

  • Margaret @ApproachingFood March 04, 2018

    Sounds like a productive two weeks, despite the computer issue. Glad you're posting again, as I'm sure many, many others are! And thanks as always, for all the work you do.

    My two weeks were pretty busy, although the next week will be very quiet:
    - I made fancy-pants (yet surprisingly easy) Goat Cheese & Arugula Pizza (http://approachingfood.com/goat-cheese-arugula-pizza/) – way, way cheaper than ready-made! Plus, I was able to make it using leftover arugula and the end of a package of goat cheese. Winning!
    - I made one batch of dough, and split it over the goat cheese & arugula pizza and another pizza I made (using homemade tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and pepperoni from my freezer that I had traded for previously). Two meals for the labour of one!
    - My sister gave me a package of homemade Italian sausages. My husband will enjoy them over the next week.
    - My sister also gave me a shampoo and conditioner that she didn’t like. I’ll alternate using my regular shampoo and this one, to stretch my regular (and favourite) shampoo.
    - I sewed a hole in my favourite yoga pants. My mother didn’t even notice the patch until I pointed it out to her, and even then she didn’t realize it was a mended tear, so I was pleased that the pants are presentable for public again.
    - I made a batch of herbal iced tea using tea gifted to me and some sugar packets saved from a hotel stay a number of months ago.
    - I made Parmesan & Paprika Potato Wedges (http://approachingfood.com/budget-friendly-parmesan-paprika-potato-wedges/), except I used slices instead of wedges. There was enough for several meals.
    - I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 gift card to Starbucks.
    - I cooked a back bacon roast that I had traded for previously. My husband ate it over quite a few meals, and I also froze some to top pizzas with.
    - I was looking at my kitchen counter just now, and realized that I had a frugal house tip to share. For my wedding a few years ago, I had purchased some prettily patterned china plates as well as some glass candle-holders, on sale days at a local thrift store. I then glued the china plate on top of the glass candleholder, to create a very elegant footed display plate. I had made several, and use one on either side of my fruit bowl, to hold the fruit for the week (80% of my food budget is fruit, seriously). A very easy way to add some elegance to your home, and one that you can customize to meet your décor style, for the cost of a dollar or so.
    - I was reading through Brandy’s archives, and came across a simple tip: I added some water to a face lotion bottle, to get the last bit out. I usually just cut the bottom off, but due to the bottle’s shape and the strength of the plastic, this was easier. I got another week’s worth of face lotion out of the bottle.
    - I gave my mother a bag of caramel corn that I didn‘t particularly want. Out of the house means less temptation for the DH and I!
    - I redeemed Air Miles to get $10 worth of groceries free (salsa and tortillas). Combined with what I had at home, I made burritos, taco salads, and taco bowls for several meals, which I was craving. Yum! I was able to use some leftover frozen beans in sauce in the burritos, to stretch the soy ‘meat’. I also used leftover spice from a food box because I hadn’t realized I had run out of taco spice, and didn’t want to mix up another batch just yet. The tortillas were the same price for large or small tortillas, so I took the large ones, and traced smaller circles on them. Then I used the smaller circles for burritos and shaped taco bowls, and then cut and baked the leftover tortilla bits into chips to toss over taco salads. Three different types of meals (including a week’s worth of lunches) using the same ingredients!
    - I used a giftcard from Swagbucks for Starbucks to buy a small guac container there when there was a promotion, and then used it to make loaded nachos (I made baked tortillas chips using the tortillas I mentioned above), along with the last of the salsa, some grated cheese from my freezer, and some sour cream that was on sale. Yummy!
    - I made a raspberry cheesecake pie (so incredibly yummy) using graham cracker crumbs I had traded for previously. I traded a single slice (wrapped nicely in a takeout box I previously traded for, along with a plastic fork leftover from a lunch out and a re-used plastic bag from my workplace) for a package of 100 extra large cupcake wrappers.
    - I made a batch of yoghurt, which is perfect, because I just ran out of breakfast cereal.
    - When I ate several cans of peaches, I mixed the syrup from the peaches with yoghurt, which made a sweetened yoghurt drink, perfect for a breakfast on the go.
    - I also made a double-batch of granola, using whatever I had in my pantry. I usually add in things like pepitas and maple syrup, but I didn’t have those in my pantry so I just did a coconut, almond, and cranberry granola, which is delicious.
    - I had planned to go on vacation, so I preserved some of the produce I had in my kitchen so it wouldn’t go bad. I zested and juiced the lemons, and made a whole bunch of lemonade as well as freezing some zest. I also dehydrated my arugula so I can use it as greens powder in my smoothies in the summer (thanks to the reader who gave me the tip!).
    - Due to some health issues, I won’t be going on the vacation, but happily, my husband and parents still are. We had planned to take them to the Grand Canyon, on a budget. We had a free suite stay in Vegas (we received it free with a large purchase), and so only had to pay for airfare (and my husband found a good deal). We booked a bus tour to the Grand Canyon that included lunch and breakfast (and pick up from where we would be staying), and bought tickets to a show that has been out for a while, in order to get cheaper tickets. Other than that, my parents and husband will just be walking around looking at things, as none of us gamble. My mum will enjoy the indoor gardens (free entrance) at some of the casinos and my dad will enjoy the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. My husband will celebrate his birthday while there, so hopefully he will get a free treat at a restaurant or so. Neither of my parents really travelled while raising us, so I wanted them to go on a nice, if not super-fancy trip, while they still have the health to do so. My husband previously took his mother there when he was single, and enjoyed doing so. And of course, my husband and I budgeted in order to do so. I was able to get a refund for my show and tour tickets, and once I get a doctor’s note ($35), I should be able to get a refund for the plane ticket. I estimate I might be out maybe $75 including the cost of the doctor’s note, but I’m still very happy that I was able to get most things refunded.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  • Margaret,

    Do you have a place to grow fruit at your home? I don't know how cold you get there but I would think some fruits must grow in your region and would help lower your grocery budget considerably (such as apples, pears, cloudberries, blueberries, and seaberries).

    I'm sorry you won't be able to come to our city.

    The conservatory and the fountains at the Bellagio (both free) are our favorite things to see downtown. When people come to visit we always take them there.

    We had a cold spell all last month after extremely warm temperatures in January and the beginning of February, but it should be warming up mid-week, so whenever they come, the weather should be beautiful! The Grand Canyon is fairly mild most of the year (but can be colder before May; it won't feel cold to your family, though!)

  • Margaret @approachingfood March 04, 2018

    Thanks so much for all your great suggestions, Brandy! It's due to your blog that I'm now trying to grow produce on my balcony, and I plan to buy a lemon tree and hopefully a fig tree too this year (although of course it'll take years to grow and they won't grow super-big in a pot -- but I've researched it and it should be possible to grow in Toronto, albeit with some work). I've taken your advice to heart about making the best usage of space, so I'm trying to grow up. I figured out today that I could probably grow strawberries in a pallet leaning again the glass window on my balcony, which will be one more thing I can cram on my balcony! I also thought about how you grow your peas onto your trellises, and thought I might try turning a dollar store tomato cage into the pea plant trellis (and use my existing wire trellis on my wall for nasturtiums). I already grow herbs, swiss chard, radishes, sweet potato greens, and tomatoes successfully, with peas, carrots, and nasturtiums not so successfully, and lettuce not at all (not enough light). My husband gave me some heirloom seeds for Christmas (does he know me or what?) so I am also going to try two new things this year: cuca-melons (my sister grew them successfully last year in the same city, so I know they'll grow), and ground cherries (which I researched and are supposed to grow well in cooler areas). Oh, and bush peppers too! I'm hoping to possibly buy a small blueberry bush and start some rhubarb too (which would take time to establish but would be great in future years), depending on how far my gift cards stretch and how good the sales are. I've learnt a lot from last year's gardening and from reading all your posts, so thanks very much!

    Glad to hear that beautiful weather awaits my family! I know they'll appreciate some bright sun after a grey winter.

    Thanks again for all the work you do with your blog!

  • Good luck with the ground cherries! I have tried them several times but could never get them to germinate :(

    A patio blueberry bush would be ideal for you!

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