How I Saved Money at the Beginning of 2020

How I Saved Money at the Beginning of 2020

I looked over my finances for the first three months of the year and planned accordingly. I plan three months at a time as we are self-employed.

I received a Christmas gift of a $150 grocery gift card to Winco at Christmas. I plan to make that work for anything I need for January that isn’t already in my very stuffed pantry and freezers. If possible, I may stretch it into February as well. I stocked my pantry and freezers with loss leaders over the last few months.

I started a new birthday list for birthdays for the year. Some items I plan on sewing, which means I’ll need to get started this month using fabric and supplies I have on hand. I added a couple of items to my Amazon shopping list as well that I will purchase when I get paid. (I take my income from my Amazon affiliate links as gift cards.) I started cutting out one small gift from scraps this week.

I redeemed Swagbucks for an Amazon gift card.

We took a formal family photo of which I will be ordering a large print to hang on the wall. I plan to redo the wall where I have family photos using custom frames I already have. My dad was a picture framer (before he retired) who sent me to a framing school a week after I graduated from high school. We ordered these frames from him before. Some were hung at home and some were hung in my husband’s office, but since he downsized we have several large frames that are not being used that we decided to change out and rearrange.

Before we took family photos, my husband gave one son a haircut, and my eldest daughter Winter hemmed a pair of pants for my husband.

We ate pomegranates and Meyer lemons from the garden. We made lemonade from the lemons. I zested the lemons and dried the zest to use in homemade lemon pepper (just dried lemon peels, pepper, and salt).

I made a quadruple batch of steak sauce.

We celebrated the new year and new decade simply with board games and card games at home for those who stayed at home. Three of my teenaged children went to dances and parties.

We purchased some fabric on a 40% sale to make a fleece jacket for my 3-year-old. We planned to make it a little big so that it will fit him for a couple of years. Winter had purchased the pattern for her children’s sewing class that she took at university (her major is apparel entrepreneurship). She made a smaller one and gave it to my youngest when she came. It was a digital pattern, so she just printed the pattern out again in a larger size at our house and then used it to make a warm jacket for Octavius.

I sent Winter back to school with a copy of a board game that I had purchased at a garage sale in like-new condition for $2, as well as a glass pie pan that was inherited from my grandmother. I also sent her back with a batch of homemade laundry soap.

What did you do to save money last week?

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This Post Has 138 Comments

  1. Gardenpat

    Now that the holidays are over and out of town family have left, we are settling back into a more routine schedule!
    Another quilt finished from my UFO tote! It used a feathered pantograph which was something new to try. https://pin.it/5s3pi64wkwxox4. It’s a good feeling to see so many I’ve made over the years finally get finished! Now, instead of a big container of unfinished quilts, I’m starting to accumulate a stack of Finished quilts! Oh, my!! 😱 Some have been given as gifts, some have gone into service on our beds, but we still have a number that are “in waiting” ! I also started working again on a king size scrappy quilt. It consists of 2 different blocks. From my link you can see the 25 “x” blocks and the beginning scrappy strips of the 36 “O” blocks! Hopefully, it will use up some of the scraps I have precut in shoeboxes without touching any yardage! https://pin.it/5qsci7kxj23m3y

    Hubs has been doing his own decluttering in the workshop! We’ve found that as we declutter and organize things, we can be more efficient- saving time when we want to make something and saving money by not buying a duplicate of something we already have! With that in mind, he started sorting out his “throw away” wood scraps into 2 groups- burn and don’t burn. He realized that the burnable wood didn’t need to be accumulating in shop so he took it outside near the fire pit. But then he saw the hodge-podge of plastic buckets holding wood scraps and decided that it looked tacky! So, with the weather semi-conducive to being outside (no snow or rain, just windy and chilly), he started building a wood storage shelter. He used leftover hardwood flooring that we also used on our BBQ projects this summer as well as pallet wood we had taking up space here! He started in the afternoon and kept working until the rain and dark made him stop. I took a photo the next morning, but he was quick to tell me that it isn’t finished yet! The roof needs trimming, he needs to lower the supports for the upper shelf and then put that in! But that will have to wait for a day when it’s not raining or bitter cold! But the price of making it- $0.! definitely fits our budget and fits our decluttering goal! https://pin.it/6oe5axnigmkte4 and https://pin.it/hlqgkvd6obxz6r.

    Although I am doing a Low Spend/No Spend month, when a friend called to tell me about a clearance sale on canned pumpkin, I immediately went over! 30 ounce cans of pumpkin purée (Kroger brand) were on sale for 40 cents! Their use by date is Dec 2021! Apparently, that particular store had overstocked pumpkin for the holiday! I ran out of pumpkin about 2-1/2 months ago and had just printed up an ebook I had saved in my computer which was a cookbook of shelf stable recipes. One of the first ones I saw was for pumpkin cranberry muffins! https://pin.it/llygrrqabio7go. After I made this batch of muffins (and froze an equal amount of muffin batter) using 1 of the new cans, I realized that I had run out of my homemade pumpkin pie spice so I made a new batch! Took me 2 minutes to make and saved me $$!! So, I bought 24 cans of the pumpkin and won’t have to buy any again for a year! Regular price was between $2 (Kroger brand) and $4 (Libby brand)! So the savings was between $38- $86!! And this is another way that we are able to manage our budget living on retirement!
    On a sad note, our washer decided to give up the ghost. We are extremely grateful that Hubs was prompted to check on washer before we went to bed because it was about then that the circuitry and wiring in it began to fry! He was able to unplug washer and stay with it until it had completely cooled down! So today we have a new washer being delivered. Another Maytag top loader. The one we replaced lasted over 17 years, many of those years were with 13 people living here at home and LOTS of laundry! When we did our first load today, the clothes came out of the washer dryer than they had with our old machine, which makes us think that it is spinning the excess water out better which will mean less dryer time afterwards! So I’m thinking this may help our electricity bill!
    Great week! Anxious to get started on this new one!

    Gardenpat- HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Siiri

      Thanks for posting!

  2. AndreaG

    My pantry and freezers are packed too so I have completed all the grocery shopping I will be doing for the month already. I have used up all the grocery gift cards that I won but I have $30 in points for a local store that I am saving until next month. I have also been collecting beer and wine bottles that I will be returning for cash to buy groceries. Those .10 and .20 cent bottles really add up!

    We are having a very quiet month. The Christmas season was so busy and our son is really worn out. No shopping is necessary so we’ll be staying in and enjoying all the things we received for Christmas.

    We have reviewed our budget and drastically cut our internet and telephone costs which I am very excited about. Our grocery budget will also be very minimal for the near future.

    I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas season and has a frugal 2020!

  3. Maxine

    Great jacket, Winter! Cute little boy, too.
    I believe that most frugal accomplishments come from the small, everyday things that we do, the habits that become so much a part of our lives that we don’t even think twice. Then, of course, there are the occasional windfalls. For us, this was a pretty spectacular week for windfalls.
    * My husband and I made menus for the week (this is huge for us) and I shopped for the few ingredients we needed (all meat came from the freezer). Although we moved some of the days around, we stuck to the plan (also big for us). We have done this two weeks in a row so far and resolved to do it every week (while it lasts, LOL).
    * Bulk section buys at Winco–dried mustard, cumin and pinto beans. I also bought Christmas cards at Winco for 75% off, or $1.24 box. (I still send cards to my relatives). I didn’t buy any gift wrap or ribbon because we may never use up what we already have.
    * I picked up a free copy of the Wall St. Journal for my husband. It would have cost $4, although I never would have bought it.
    * I ordered $180 worth of “free” over-the-counter meds and equipment through our Medicare Advantage health plans. At $180, everything was hugely overpriced–I estimate it was worth about 1/3 that much. Since it was “free” (paid for by  insurance), I don’t really care what they claim it is worth. Frugal fail: I could have done this quarterly, and didn’t.
    * While I was on the Blue Cross site, I claimed $70 in combined Healthy Rewards for my husband and daughter for having wellness exams and flu shots in 2019, paid out as Amazon and Home Depot GCs. (I already claimed $35 for myself and gave the GCs as gifts). This is the deal that would have paid another $60 each for colonoscopies…but we’re not THAT desperate, LOL.
    * I got a $15 GC for buying $50 worth of home products at Target. Don’t laugh, I bought toilet paper! LOTS of toilet paper! (Scott 1,000 sheets). The GC went in my gift stash. Sometimes I use the cards to buy gifts, other times I just give the card. Best of all, we aren’t going to run out of TP anytime soon!
    * I did some end-of-the-year financial stuff that will save about $185 in state income tax when we file.
    * We saw a movie at the $3 cinema.
    * And now for the biggie–we went to Hobby Lobby for something else (which we got for 40% off with a coupon) and discovered they were clearancing their Christmas stuff for 90% off. My son and daughter-in-law didn’t have a Christmas tree this year because they didn’t have the extra cash for a big one, which they need for the available spot in their house. I called and asked if they were interested in a 9-footer with 800 lights and over 2,000 tips for $60, regularly $600, and–of course–they were. Realistically, the store probably didn’t sell many (or any) at that price, but even with a 40% discount in the weeks leading up to Christmas, this tree would have cost $360. I got the last one. They will reimburse me for it. My DDIL calls it “the deal of the century.”

    1. cc

      Hey Maxine cc here, long time. This seems like a nice place. I had a rough year but I’m ready for a frugal new year. The grocery store had some good sales, I’m thinking to get people in after all the holiday shopping. Bought chicken .49¢ lb, dried beans .50¢ lb, whole wheat pasta .50¢ lb, butter $2 lb. Can’t remember what else so even though I wasn’t going shopping they got me.lol I’ve been learning to cook smaller meals which means I’m saving money and not wasting food.

      I’m also working on using what I have. I lost 20lb(been sick) and need new clothes so I took up all my pants the easy way, sewing the inner seem. Had a few shirts made into undershirts and two long sleeve t-shirts became light weight sweaters. I wanted a new coat but since we don’t get really cold here I didn’t want to buy one. Went with layers instead, hooded sweater and a jean jacket has worked so far. I did buy 3 pair of ankle pants that were on clearance from summer and since I’m short they were the perfect length for me.

      I’m organizing and clearing out which always shows me how much I have. This ends up being frugal and make me stay away from shopping.

      1. Max--again!

        CC! I’ve missed you so much! (For the rest of you, CC and I have been hanging out at the same frugal forum, off and on, for about 20 years…but she has been MIA!). Hope to “see” you here more often, or at the same old, same old place. You’ve been missed! Sounds like you had a a great frugal week, and I’m sorry you’ve been ill.

        1. Lisa

          Max–what is the frugal forum? I’d like to hang out too!

          1. Max

            Well, if Brandy doesn’t mind me adding a link, this is it: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefrugalistafiles/the-frugalista-files-f500426/ It is called the Frugalista Files and has been around (with a few different names) for over 25 years. One of the original posters, Glenda, is still with us! It is currently the least active it has been in the 21 years I’ve been there, but a few new posters would soon take care of that! Please join us!

  4. Piggykr

    It’s winter and I hate winter! I have a condition that makes me unusually sensitive to cold and my birthday is this month. My SO surprised me with a trip to SE Asia. Looking at flights and hotels we decided that Bangkok is a little out of our budget during the Lunar New Year holidays but Cebu Phillipines is much cheaper. We are forgoing a beach resort, which we hate anyway, and staying in a cheaper hotel in the city. This will give us access to more goods and services and we can compare prices. We can still take private boat tours and excursions for water sports and beaches. As we’ve traveled a lot over the years we are good at self catering and using local transportation.
    We had a low key New Year after a hectic Christmas dinner we hosted for 30 friends. YES 30!
    I froze all the leftovers from Christmas dinner: turkey, sweet potatoes, carrots, and ham
    I simmered the turkey bones and made broth and kept the meat for soup and pot pie.
    I made sweet potato bread with leftover sweet potatoes.
    My friend had given me two big bags of Great Northern beans and I made a batch with lefter over ham.
    I went to a friends house for a late lunch for soup and wine.
    My friend gave me a case of root beer. It’s hard to find here so I was very happy.
    Recently an open air ice rink opened. I’ve been taking my son nearly everyday. It’s $1 for an hour of skating since we have our own skates. Usually we pay $5 at our local rink.
    I’ve decided not to color my hair again till spring. I’ve gone a bit overboard and it has been breaking off. Time to wait it out.
    Every January and February is our NO BUY MONTH. I’ve inventoried the pantry and freezer and will cook using ingredients I’ve got on hand. I’ve found a few recipes that will help.
    I made a loaf of yogurt sunflower seed bread.
    I had some apples that got mealy and made applesauce.
    I’ve hung up most of my laundry. It helps adding humidity to the house.
    I’m adding to my donate pile.
    We’ve had a few play dates on the playground while the weather is still relatively mild instead of more expensive entertainment.

  5. Jenny R

    That coat is lovely! How cool that Winter’s learning can produce useful items in addition to learning. We had a great first week of the new year. It was simple and fruitful.
    *I cancelled our Amazon Prime subscription as the online shopping has slowed after the holiday purchases. I also returned an item that didn’t live up to my expectations and received a refund.
    *I didn’t give up on a stain in a shirt I like to wear both at home and out and about. It took a couple of tries but finally got it out with Dawn dish soap so now the shirt is back in service.
    *Used saved chicken bones and organic vegetable scraps from the freezer to make delicious bone broth and then used that for chicken soup.
    *Cashed out my Ibotta earnings for a $20 Amazon gift card and also received a $5 credit from Amazon due to bad service with a delivery. I was also able to earn $3 in the Ibotta app by placing my Walmart grocery pickup order through it.
    *My husband used free materials to work on the addition to the workshop. We hope to be able to make products to sell as well as possibly do cabinet making from home.
    *We accepted the gift of cow manure/old hay that has composted down into a beautiful soil additive for our new garden. I am excited to grow fruit & vegetables this year!
    *We updated our budget and set financial goals for this year. We have started January with progress made towards our goal so we hope to maintain and see the improvements throughout the year.
    *More on my blog here: https://www.cozyhomemaking.com/frugal-fun-homemaking-for-beginning-of-january-2019/

  6. Juhli

    What a cute jacket! Our frugal moves have been pretty much our regular habits: eat leftovers, exercise for free, provide our own services like house cleaning, etc. I have a few additional ones though.
    I have a group of friends who go out to lunch several times a week but I have decided to only join them at most once a week. Better financially but also for my health.
    I mended a washcloth that had the hem come unsewn.
    We have planned out our donations for the year and are happy that we can designate some money for that because we live frugally.

  7. Love the photos of your sweet boy. I baked several of our sweet potatoes. A homegrown meal was made with our broccoli, lima beans and pumpkin. My husband and I cleaned out a building. Most went to the thrift store or dump, but I did keep a tote of things for our use or to try to sell. We made a “safe house” for our chickens, from brush and metal that was on hand, to protect them from hawk attacks. Collards were harvested for our New Years meal, and corn was ground for cornbread. I bought an amaryllis bulb marked down 30%. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-new-year-new-decade.html

  8. Elizabeth M.

    -So lovely to see a vase of flowers. They seem very distant in Canadian winter, but always wonderful to look at! I am glad to hear about the projects you are doing. They are so thoughtfully done, and I know how much you enjoy doing these things for your family.
    -After many weeks of mostly mild winter weather, where it was possible to get out and about easily, a bitter cold snap is starting that is scheduled to last about 10 days. I have tried to do as many errands as possible before it starts, so that I can enjoy the comforts of being inside on these cold days. I bought groceries to fill in gaps to keep going for the month. I stocked up on canned salmon, which was on sale at a reasonable price for the first time in a very long time. The fridge freezer and pantry are as close to full as I get them now, with lots of variety and favorite frugal meals.
    -As I have taken my Christmas decorations down, I have moved a few of my favorite decorative items from rooms that I don’t use very much into rooms where I will see them much more often. I am also changing where I store a few things, so they are easier to get when I need them. Very little effort, but these small improvements help. I have also checked every room to see what items are plugged in all the time that do not need to be. There is a large printer/scanner/copier in my kitchen that I will take out completely, because it doesn’t work if any of the printer cartridges are dry, and the cartridges are expensive and not available locally.
    -I located the rest of my medical receipts for tax purposes, and have them all in one place. I have also calculated the October through December income from my transcription, to add to the amount I had calculated for the rest of the year. I need this for a form I am filling out to apply for a seniors’ benefit, but also will need it for when I do my tax forms. I’m now as ready as I can be to do my taxes easily when the time comes.

  9. PJGT

    Love the color of the fleece jacket for your son. We, too, stayed home for New Year’s Eve and had a nice family time together.

    It was a bountiful week of free food for us. A single man vacationing next door that we invited over for dinner at Christmas gave us a huge box of food he had purchased and didn’t eat. We also kept quite a bit of food out of the transfer station at the expired table. I went ahead and took most of the sweet peppers and am dehydrating and freezing them for future use.

    Found a dime and added it to the change jar. I have been exercising at home and snowshoeing while walking the dogs. I have been resting up and reading books I own and watching movies/documentaries through the library for free. I mended two pair of pants for my son. I finished my part-time job stint and will put my pay in the bank to cover any expenses associated with the family land and cabin my parents gave me a couple years ago. That way I will be able to focus on radiation and recovery.

    I asked the medical staff to check my insurance for the radiation (at a place closer to home) and it is covered 100%. And, I get up keep my oncology doctor in SLC (which makes me very happy!). It is such a relief to have things going well. Always thankful for my husband working.

    The family got sick this last week and I was able to get a bag of OTC medications out for them as a result of having organized the house this fall. Being able to find things when they are needed is wonderful and frugal.

    Blessings in this new year.

    1. Patricia Koernig

      So glad you get to be closer to home for the treatment, Trish! Continued Grace to you and yours.
      Patricia/Fl

      1. PJGT

        Thank you Patricia,

        I was distraught at the thought of 4 weeks away from home alone. 1.5 hour drive each way, but so worth it! Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated – as always. Praying for you and yours as well.

        Trish

  10. Lorna

    Brandy what a blessing was the grocery gift card that you can stretch out over the coming months because you have shopped well in the lead up to Christmas taking advantage of wonderful sales 🙂 . The fleece jacket you made looks so lovely and will keep him warm for many years ahead in winter. So happy you were able to pick such lovely produce from your gardens 🙂 as we have been.

    For the New Year we have gone over our budget and think now we have a fair stock of food storage that we can now cut down on our grocery expenditure and save more. We are endeavouring to save 3 months of our total living expenses into an emergency fund so we will be pulling in expenditure and saving more. Like yourself Brandy we took advantage of loss leaders, markdown meat specials and other specials to stock up our freezers and pantry with so everything is bulging at the seams for which we are truly blessed.

    To let everyone know as we live in Australia is that we are currently safe from all the bush fires here but have had two within 30 km and 60 km in two different directions from us but nothing close fortunately. Way before summer hit here we cleaned up our property of fallen branches and undergrowth to minimise the risk of fires to our property and home. We continue to pray for many who have lost their homes, family members and livelihood on farms through the drought and fire.

    Our savings added up to $48.35 last week :).

    Home deep cleaning –
    – We used grey water from the washing to clean down two tables, 2 chairs, a wood smoker and a tool cabinet and then wiped them over with fresh water to finish to get the dust and dirt off them.
    – We swept half of the back patio to get leaves and dust off the concrete. Still have the other half to do and need to get rid of some rubbish.

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked bread and meals from scratch.

    Groceries –
    – Took advantage of doing a top up grocery shop using a Woolworths $10 off $100 purchase with a code, $10 off with my supermarket Rewards card for buying our usual groceries and weekly specials to save $23.60 on usual prices.

    Pantry Building –
    – With the discounts above and combining RACQ gift card 5% off discount I purchased 6 tins of apple pie filling costing $0 out of pocket to top up our pantry with.

    Internet listings –
    – Listed 15 items on an eBay free listing promotion saving $24.75 on usual prices.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone :).

    Sewingcreations15.

    1. Becky

      Lorna,
      I’m glad you are ok and spared from the fires. They look awful.

      1. Lorna

        Thank you Becky 🙂 .

        We are constantly on alert if we see a bad smoke haze though here and there have been many days of that from surrounding fires. Fortunately our block is pretty clear and undergrowth cleared up but it being so tinder dry here is a worry none the less.

        God is certainly looking out for us here and many of our friends also who have been near bush fires also but so far have not been impacted.

        Have a great week ahead 🙂 .

        Sewingcreations15.

    2. Cindi

      I’m so glad to hear from you Lorna. I’m glad the fires aren’t too close, though I am sure it is awful to see. When we have had fires there is a lot of smoke, even if we weren’t in danger. I am praying for rain!

      1. Lorna

        Thank you Cindi yes the smoke is deceptive even being so far away it can blow over areas a long way away. It is awful to see the fires in NSW on the television and the devastation. We are located in Queensland.

        We are praying for rain too :).

        Sewingcreations15

    3. PJGT

      Glad you are safe Lorna! We went through a serious house fire years ago and the best thing was that we had purchased replacement insurance. It made all the difference.

      I’ve put clearing around our mountain cabin on the spring to-do list. So important.

      Ttish

      1. Lorna

        Ttish thank you 🙂 .

        Yes clearing around your mountain cabin is a must as it gives your home a fire break and sorry to hear you went through a house fire in the past 🙁 but glad you bought good insurance coverage.

        Sewingcreations15

      2. Lynn from NC Outer Banks

        Trish, I am glad that you continue to do well and that now a closer option is available to you for your treatment. Continuing to keep you in thought.

        I, too lost a house to fire (not wildfire, but electrical) and would definitely second your suggestion for replacement insurance. Should you ever need it like we did, the extra money paid in premiums for replacement is worth it. If you combine all the years we paid homeowners’ insurance, our fire expenses easily exceeded those costs by a lot!

        Take good care!

    4. lisa

      Hi Lorna–are you able to use Mercari in Australia? We like it so much better than Ebay. We have sold about $1000 worth of stuff from around the house over the last couple of months. De-cluttering and getting some extra $$!

      Prayers for rain!

      1. Lorna

        Mercari is for Japan and United States residents and so far not available here Lisa.

        Glad though you have had such success selling items on there and making some money for your family and de-clutter your home too 🙂 .

        Sewingcreations15.

    5. Lynn from NC Outer Banks

      Oh Lorna, the television coverage of the fires in Australia is heartbreaking. Know that many people from afar are praying for our Aussie friends and hoping that rain will come for the people and animals. It is hard to believe so much of the continent is burning. Like Trish, we had a house fire, unrelated to wildfires, so stories on fire always get my attention. I’m thankful that thus far you have been okay, but when I converted km to miles 😉 it seems the fires are still somewhat in your area. I’m glad you and your husband have already taken precautions and are prepared with your stockpile and water.

      1. Lorna

        Thank you Lynn and yes we were still in the fire zone but now all fires have been put out in our area thank goodness 🙂 and thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers 🙂 . .

        It is a horror fire season here in Australia for sure and it is widespread. This is mainly because the government stopped back burning and allowing people to clear trees near their homes. Of course this built up a lot of undergrowth fuel that if and when a fire hit most places would suffer severe fires. We try to be green here too but there comes a time when silly laws are passed that cause people to lose their lives and homes and this is exactly what is happening.

        Most of our native trees here are eucalyptus which are high is oil content and once fire gets to them they literally explode. Then if you take into account all those fallen branches and trees laying everywhere you can see what is happening and why the fires are so intense.

  11. loyda

    I was spending $100 on groceries every week for the two of us. But decided to follow the USDA food budget, Thrifty plan which would have me spending around 85.00 a week. The extra $15 will go into a savings envelope. What to do with that will be determined later. We cut back out eating out and this week I took a friend out and spent $30 for the two of us. Using my Sourdough starter I made bagels for the first time ever ! Not very pretty but oh so tasty 🙂 Of course with just the two of us I made half a batch. I also made spoon butter and used it on all my wooden spoons, steak knives with wooden handles, rolling pin and cutting boards 🙂 I made extra jars that I will be sharing with my daughters.

    1. Nancy in Eastern Washington

      What is “spoon butter”? How do you make and use it? I would like to keep some of my wooden items in better condition. My niece brought me some olive wood spoons from Tunisia when she visited in November.

  12. Cindi

    What a cute jacket!

    I downloaded a bunch of new books from the library and have been enjoying them this week.
    Safeway had a case lot sale and I bought a case of coconut milk, a case of canned fruit, and a case of canned beans. It was Senior Day (55 and over) so I got $10% off my order. Also got a free bottle of ketchup. The checker commented that I saved more than I spent.
    My teakettle had a coating of grease on the outside and my husband cleaned it using oven cleaner.
    I sorted what was left of the two cases of apples we purchased from an orchard back in September. I put all the ones still fine for eating in the refrigerator in the house, turned the rest into four pints of applesauce, and turned off the old refrigerator in the garage.
    I had a favorite pair of jeans that was really, really worn. I put big patches on the whole front of both legs (using fabric from older jeans) and covered the patches with embroidered flowers. I did the work a little at a time in the evenings while listening to audio books. I love the way they turned out and especially love that I don’t have to say good-bye to the best fitting pair of jeans I ever had.

  13. April

    Used leftover whole grilled chicken from Christmas 2 more times. . picked some meat for carbonara, then totally cleaned meat off and boiled the carcass for stock. Froze half, then used other half in chicken soup, along with the meat.

    Ate all Christmas dinner leftovers over several days.

    Stuck to grocery pick up to avoid clearance temptations (did buy 2 half priced tins of butter cookies)

    A friend gave me 3 tickets to an adventure course type place(Fritz’s Adventure in Branson). Took my daughter and 2 of her friends for an afternoon of fun. I was free to get in, then only spent $20 on a pizza to feed us all.

    My mom sent over a ham, several bags of frozen veggies, cereal, and milk.

    Purchased a hoodie half priced at Sam’s to give to my daughter for her birthday. I also had a couple presents held back from Christmas. We celebrated with dinner out(not frugal, but fun), cake, ice cream and balloons. We took her best friend with us.

    A friend of my husband’s got us a deer with his extra tag, we’ll just have to pay processing, but the meat will last a long time(my youngest doesn’t like the taste of deer meat, so if she’s eating, I mix half deer meat and half ground beef(or ground turkey)

    Mended a couple pairs of jeans

    Daughter was out of school from December 20th until today so that saved a bit on gas

    1. mrymckms

      april…I hope you read this as it is late in the week. When I married my husband (a hunter, my family as well) he HATED the taste of deer meat. I told him to kill me one and I would fix it if he didn’t like it we were done hunting, can’t stand to kill for sport only for food. Anyway he loves it now and it as no “gamey” taste. I don’t know how you prepare it but this is what we do and I know it sounds strange but it works. We soak the deer meat in buttermilk, you need to buy a gallon of the cheapest you can find, cover the meat with the buttermilk in the fridge for 24 hours. Drain the buttermilk off (it will look reddish in color) then cover it again with buttermilk. the next day pour that off, put the meat in a collander and let it drain really good then cook with it. The buttermilk does 2 things adds a bit of fat which the lean meat needs and also takes the “gamey” flavor out. We make burgers, steaks etc and he will only eat it at our house, since with other folks he can taste the wild flavor. You may want to try this with your daughter, my kids love deer meat and can’ t tell the difference usually.

      1. Cindi

        My mother used to soak venison in buttermilk too, and it does work!

    2. Lea

      It’s been my experience that the “gamey” flavor depends on where you hunt – deer hunted in areas that more grassland or something similar have a flavor more like standard beef based on what they eat. Deer that feed on trees and bushes tend to have a more gamey taste, in my experience.

      My husband and I don’t hunt but he is a Pastor and we receive quite a bit of deer and fish from parishoners every year. I typically use venison in things like spaghetti or chili, where there are other flavors to mask a gamey taste. We typically only buy low-fat ground beef – preferably 97% lean but we will purchase 93% lean, so the low fat doesn’t seem to be an issue for us.

      Hope you find a way to use the venison that works for you!
      Lea

      1. Lynn DinKY

        Ladies, My husband tells me all time, The older the buck the more wild and gamey it will taste. So if your hunter is hunting for a “rack”, more than likely the venison will taste gamey. A young buck ,a year or younger, is not going to have that strong taste. Naturally what they eat also affects how they taste. Also keep in mind, that the season for hunting falls during the time that the Bucks are in rut. Those fellas have two things in mind. Fighting other bucks and making love to all his girls. LOL. Does on the other hand are extremely delicious. A young doe will just melt in your mouth. She’s not going to have all those crazy male hormones that will make her taste the same way as a buck. I have never had to “soak” a doe. She’s perfect. So if you have a hunter giving you meat and want to know what you have…. ask him how big the rack was. He’ll be thrilled to tell you how many points the antlers have. One more thing. Pressure canned venison is sooooooo good. Seriously, so tender and so juicy. I would rather eat mine canned than from the freezer. And if you are interested in processing your own deer, KY afield has a video for purchase that shows you how to do it. It is well worth the money to purchase it. https://secure.kentucky.gov/InventoryServices/dbd8e41d-6fca-4727-a7b6-e5e5c2511b80/Product/16ac1a61-71c1-4a7f-90a6-d8e5866a2d76

  14. Alice

    I pulled out a bunch of dried beans that have been sitting in my pantry and did 3 canner loads of quarts and pints. I’m much more likely to use the beans if I don’t have to spend several hours cooking them first.
    I’ve been wanting a vacuum sealer to seal dried things in mason jars, and finally found one for $15 on the local facebook marketplace.
    I’ve started making sandwich bread again instead of buying it. I stopped baking bread when I went back to school for my Masters degree, but I’m at a place with my work schedule that I feel I can fit it in again. I also took some old bread and made croutons (which I then sealed in mason jars to use over the next few weeks).
    Lastly, I’ve been making dinner with foods in my pantry and limiting what I buy at the grocery store each week so that I have more grocery money for a trip to a couple of bulk food stores- there are several things I’ve run out of.

  15. Margie from Toronto

    I had a fairly quiet week which was nice after all the hustle and bustle! I worked 4 days out of 5 and did have to buy lunch one day as I had to stay much later than expected and hadn’t brought anything with me – but – still came out ahead with all the extra hours worked. I am determined to ensure that I’ve got food in the fridge at work at the start of each week just in case. No coffee bought, both to save money but also because I take sugar in coffee and want to reduce carbs after too many indulgences in December!
    I kept busy by de-c;uttering, cleaning and moving things about – just to change things up a bit in my apt. I’m quite pleased with the results and I’ve got books and dvd’s that I’m now ready to let go of so they will be donated to my church’s Spring book sale. I’ve also got a bag of clothes to pass along to a friend. I’ll never be a minimalist but I do like things to be clean and contained. I’ve never had a lot of knick knacks, nor do I leave things lying around but I still have “stuff” that needs to be dealt with. It’s an ongoing process and I’m not going to drive myself crazy but bit by bit all the unnecessary bits and pieces are being gifted, donated or thrown out.
    I’ve kept grocery shopping to a bare minimum – just veg and a few non food items. I’ll need to get eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese but will wait until this coming weekend.
    We had our annual Potluck lunch this past Sunday after church and I made a couple of shepherd’s pies. I had the meat and veg, just needed to buy some potatoes for the topping. Got to sample a lot of yummy dishes and we had so many desserts that I put a number of items away for Fellowship over the next couple of Sundays – people were very generous!
    Did 4 loads of laundry but only 1 went into the dryer – everything else was hung up to dry.
    Still some planning to do for 2020 so I will sit down this weekend and start that. Just want to ease into this year.
    That is a great photo of Octavious – love the coat!

    1. Lisa

      Margie

      I could not agree more about decluttering. I am not making myself crazy trying to get it all done at once. We have been selling items on Mercari and slowly going through stuff. I figure that little by little, it will get done and I am not buying “stuff” to add.

      Have a great week!

  16. Julie Walker

    Cindi I hope your frig will come back on, I did that once and it never came back on. Brandy, I didn’t know you could change pattern size like that, that is great. It really helps when you have fast-growing kids. I may have to try Ibotta, it sounds awesome. I have been baking bread and biscuits. I’m trying to find a used wheat grinder, but someone always beats me to it. After having cancer, I would like to use organic flour, and if I could make my own bread, that would make up for the more expensive flour or wheat when I get a wheat grinder. I did buy some Christmas dishcloths after Christmas for gifts next year. I am trying to do a no or low-spend January, too. I recently bought about 15 pairs of cute sandals for $.50 at Dollar General to be given to kids on mission trips. I found some nice curtains at a thrift store and donated my older ones which were still nice. They were 20 years old, but custom-made and I still liked them. It is difficult for me to give up things, LOL but I need to update.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      The pattern comes in multiple sizes all the way up to size 12. Since you print it when you need it, you can cut it to any size you need that is printed on the pattern.

    2. Cindi

      This is an old refrigerator that we only use for storing apples and holiday food. Every year when we turn it back on I hold my breath. I fully expect one day it will not work. We are always on the lookout for a newer model for free or cheap, but haven’t found it yet. My husband was a refrigeration repairman, so he can keep things going as long as he can find parts.

    3. Beth Bertsch

      Hi Julie! I have a nice wheat grinder that I want to sell. What city do you live in? I’m in So Cal. It would cost a lot to ship, but if you live somewhere nearby…. Let me know 🙂
      Beth rcbethie@msn.com

    4. Siiri

      They say its very healthy to use flour which is grinded as freshly as possible. I mean You grind and then bake as soon as possible.

  17. Jen G

    Brandy – those fleece jackets are just beautiful and perfect for a Las Vegas winter, I’d imagine!

    Living frugally in Portland, OR, this week:

    *We went on a short family getaway over New Years to Bend, OR. We stayed at a mountain resort with condos and I food shopped ahead of time for the entire trip. Besides going up to the mountain once, we mostly stayed at the resort and did the things we had already paid for (ice skating, hot tubbing, etc.)

    *I gave away several things to my Buy Nothing neighborhood group and also picked up a pair of almost-new Nike’s for my oldest son. It was a great thing in three ways: 1. I always walk or ride my bike to pickups (otherwise I’m using gas and it’s no longer a free item), so I got some winter exercise 2. the shoes were much needed and in his size and preferred style 3. Aside from the money saved, it was time and sanity saved for me trying to shoe shop with him.

    *I strategically planned some future dates with my husband with the gift cards we received over the holidays (and some we had left over).

    *I filled our IRAs for 2020.

    *I am finally faithfully composting in my backyard garden. I didn’t have the time/ability to do it last year and compost ended up being a big gardening expense.

    *I am still clipping lettuce and kale from my fall garden.

    *My only real 2020 resolution is to meal prep food over the weekend for the coming week. I hate it while I’m doing it, but love it during the week when I’m tired from work but have to get dinner on the table. This week I prepped chicken, hard boiled eggs and rice in our Instant Pot, chopped veggies and made and froze breakfast and bean burritos.

    *Portland is SO dark right now. I’m getting myself outside first thing in the morning to stave off depression, which kills my productivity. It is working well for me so far.

    1. Lisa

      Jen G

      My husband and I meal prepped every weekend and enjoyed the time spent together. However, life has been busy lately and we have found that if we just make a little extra through the week, we can get several meal preps in the freezer without any extra effort.

      Have a great week!

      1. Jen G

        Thanks for the tip, Lisa! I think I could manage that!

    2. Mari in SC

      Jen, my daughter lives in your area and said the same thing about the early darkness when she and her fiancée were here over Christmas. She loves the light in the summer, though.

      1. Jen G

        Yes! Portland is magical in the summertime. It stays light until at least 9pm for most all of the summer and rarely gets too hot during the day. I spend too much time in the winter dreaming about summer evenings!

    3. Amy M

      Hi Jen G,
      I live in Portland also (Sw portland/Beaverton). Can you tell me more about the Buy nothing group? I’ve heard of it, but don’t know how it works.

      1. Jen G

        Hi Amy M,

        I think this link is the best way to help you find your Buy Nothing Group, which is assigned geographically: https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/#USA

        Buy Nothing is basically made up of local Facebook groups that allow members to gift each other things for free. You can also “ask” your group for things. Occasionally gifts of service are offered. The mission is to create community while reducing waste. In general, you would post a photo to Facebook of the item you want to gift. Other neighbors will comment if they would like to be considered for the gift, and then you get to choose who gets it. The person gifted generally arranges pickup. Most pickups in our group are just people leaving the item at the door.

        It tends to work best in dense, urban areas. Defeats the purpose if you have to drive a long ways for the items. I personally have LOVED my groups! I look around my house and a lot of the furniture, kitchen stuff and clothes in my closet is from my Buy Nothing group. It has saved us a ton of money over the years and the items feel special to me, and I’ve made some connections in my neighborhood as well.

        1. Amy M

          Jen G,
          Thank you! I used the link to find my local group, and have requested to join the FB group. I look forward to trying it out!

  18. Texasilver

    1. I used survey reward points & Coca Cola codes to earn 7 magazine subscriptions. These I gave to 7 people for Xmas gifts.
    2. Went to Ikea for my free birthday dinner & spent the 10$ gift certificate they send you each year. Got a throw pillow, a large umbrella, & a 9 volt battery (for my smoke detector) for 10$. Drank the free hot tea IKEA provides with my free dinner.
    3. Won a box of 8 cranberry scones at bingo at the Senior Center. Also got some free wall calenders at the center.
    4. Made great northern beans w/ leftover ham bone for church lunch. I also served hot French bread. French bread was day old that I got free at the senior center & had stored in freezer. Served 20 people for next to nothing. The beans were a big hit!
    5. Will get a new phone (iPhone 8) later this week. AT&T is running a offer. You get a free phone w/ a new phone number & 30 month contract. We already use this provider so a new line can easily be added. My old phone is about to give up the ghost so I’m happy to get my new one. I ordered an Otter Box for the new phone for 17.99 on Groupon. That’s about 1/2 of the price charged in the store for an Otter Box. The case will protect my new phone so the screen won’t shatter.
    Happy New Year to all!

  19. Kara

    Happy New Year to all!
    I have been looking for 55 gallon plastic drums to use as water barrels. I had found one at Habitat Restore for $20 a while back. But they haven’t had any since. The next cheapest I could find was $35. I did not buy them. I went back to the Restore and asked if they knew where I might get the drums. They directed me to a salvage yard, which had them for $20! I was so happy.
    I called to complain about service we had received from the rental car company we used over Christmas. I was given a refund on the extra charges.
    I have removed over half of the tile (red “brick” looking tile up ALL 4 WALLS) of the bathroom that’s being remodeled. Someone is doing the actual work, but we can do the demo and save money.
    I saved one sheet set and one single flat sheet that my daughter did not take with her when she moved. I don’t need any more sheets that size, but I do need pillowcases, so I will make those out of one sheet, and some fabric produce bags out of another sheet. I’m trying to cut down on my plastic bag use.
    My husband has packed a lunch to take to work every single day of his working life (over 25 years). And every day it’s 2 sandwiches unless we have leftovers. We go through a lot of bread. I am trying to convert him to rice and beans at least once a week. I have packed that for him for tomorrow. He wouldn’t think to make himself something different, but he happily eats whatever is packed for him.

    1. Mable

      I am another one who is blessed with a husband who will eat anything I pack or put before him, with not a complaint. (Even when it is tomato soup, which I love but make from scratch and our garden tomatoes only twice a year, to spare him!) Not everyone is lucky enough to have a partner who is happy to eat whatever is made, knowing we work hard to keep the meals healthy but frugal. I try to remember to occasionally thank my husband for being so easy-going, but should probably do it more often. I know how much I appreciate it when he sometimes thanks me for things that are my regular chores.

    2. Amy M

      Kara,
      I love your idea about making produce bags out of sheets. Thank you!

  20. Juls Owings

    except for Medical appts and seeing our parents we have stayed home pretty much. Hubby has been home also (he hauls stuff for the Amish for a hobby) as several didn’t have anything to have hauled as they work for Englishers that had Christmas shut down until today,.There are 3 families dealing with cancer,one is a 4 yr old girl. Hubby has transported family around a lot in the past month so everyone can help keep the farms going and things taken care of.

    We ate from the pantry since Christmas…that is a winning streak for us. Each night I give Hubby a choice between 3 meals of what he wants for the next night. Seems to be working after we made a list of 31 meals.
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2020/01/frugal-choices.html

    Blessed Be everyone.

  21. That jacket is adorable! I love the toggle closures, and am impressed with the hand-stitched lining!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I made very trendy Sky-High Souffle-Style Pancakes at home! (http://approachingfood.com/sky-high-souffle-style-pancakes/) I served them with maple syrup that I had traded for previously.
    – I used royal icing leftover from Christmas cookies to make royal icing transfers. I plan to use them to decorate an anniversary cake in February. No waste makes me happy!
    – I hosted my family for a New Year’s Day lunch, and served lentil hummus with carrot sticks, Brandy’s tomato basil soup, homemade Irish Soda bread, salad with homemade dressing, and chocolate chip cookies. Almost everything was from my pantry, and I didn’t have to go shopping for any of it.
    – I bought a $5 produce box from the flash food app. I got a bag of clementines, 5 pears, 2 mangoes, 6 white nectarines, 5 kiwis, a handful of mini peppers, 4 regular peppers, a cucumber, and a clamshell of baby tomatoes. I added the tomatoes to the salad that I served my family on New Year’s Day, and froze the nectarines, mangoes, and kiwis for smoothies (they were past their prime, but still fine).
    – I made a sweet pepper version of jalapeno poppers, using the mini peppers I got in the flash food produce box, cream cheese purchased on sale two weeks ago, and homemade bread crumbs from my freezer. Yummy!
    – To cut out grocery shopping, I made a list of meals I could make from what I had at home, and made the following: shepherd’s pie (http://approachingfood.com/vegetarian-shepherds-pie-for-meat-lovers/, using the last of some frozen veggies and some potatoes that needed to be eaten as they were sprouting; lasagna (my daughter loved it and ate it for several meals); pork burgers (using 50% off meat from the flash food app) on homemade buns with sweet potato fries (using a single giant sweet potato from a previous flash food produce box); pork meatballs (using the same discounted meat) using homemade breadcrumbs and then I froze two thirds of them; and a beef and mushroom pie. I made my own pie crust of course (http://approachingfood.com/a-pie-crust-odyssey-meatpies-vegetarian-style/) and used up a meat and mushroom mixture from the freezer that my husband had cooked and frozen many, many months ago and mixed it with frozen leftover chicken-less chicken pot pie filling. My husband loved it and I loved that there was no food waste!
    – I made a batch of granola. I ran out of oil, so it was more like muesli than granola, but still yummy!
    – I made two batches of chocolate chip cookies, and packaged some of them up as a hostess gift for a playdate. I also froze some of the dough, as it’s always handy to have around for last minute guests or gifts.
    – I redeemed 750 Swagbucks for $10 to my paypal account, and donated it to the Australian WWF. A teeny amount, but it made me feel better.
    – I used a sb gc to order washing soda from amazon, and made a double batch of laundry detergent.
    – I combined sales, digital offers, and manufacturer’s coupons to stock up on items at Shoppers Drug Mart, including free-run eggs and facial moisturizer. By carefully combining the sales and digital offers, I was able to earn $20 in loyalty points which I will apply to my grocery bill this week.
    – My sister pointed out an economy that I can hardly believe I overlooked. I give my daughter homogenized milk, and had been buying it in cartons as opposed to the 3 l bags which are a better value. (For those not in Canada, certain provinces in Canada sell milk in 3 l bags. In case anyone is interested in why: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/costofliving/we-answer-your-burning-questions-about-things-like-milk-bags-tariffs-condo-insurance-and-printer-cartridges-1.5409407/here-s-why-milk-comes-in-bags-in-parts-of-canada-1.5409420)

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

    1. Laura S

      Hello Margaret! I am constantly amazed at your food creativity. Raising nine kids, I did much the same then, but find that since they have flown I am less inclined.😊

  22. Lillianna

    After reading Brandy’s post, I realize more than ever that much of my life revolves around the thoughts shared here. Last year, I received an anonymous Christmas gift. That gift changed my life. After holding on to it for many months , I purchased medical insurance for myself . Due to the many tragedies in my life, this is just something we couldn’t afford. I was able to see a specialist . I got an official diagnosis and treatment. This single event enabled me to file for my disability and have it processed quickly. Our life has changed so much due to this anonymous blessing. After aS realized they had made a mistake , I received 60 months of back pay. We had lived on less than a thousand dollars a month for over five years. This blog saved my life. Even in the hardest times we had every thing we needed. So here we are , a new year and a new budget. I have mapped mine out for the year. I have most of life planned out. I simply can’t let go of my frugalness. Money took care of a few problems but has been put away. I’m thinking on average we should be able to save 66% of our check each month. So , I have changed credit cards that have better rewards. All expenses are charged and paid in full the week later. I’m hoping to reap more extras this way. Perhaps do a little traveling. I have made several lists. Remodeling projects , needs and wants . I’ve marked each item as to how it may be most likely obtained. Habitat for humanity will be checked often for needed items. Other items are sorted by Dollar tree , thrift store and the salvage store. Some rare cash items can be purchased with Swagbucks converted to Visa giftcards. Each year I start off with 100.00 in my yearly pet food budget. I generally use this for deals on Swagbucks. I bought myself two pair of leggings for yoga . I paid 25.00 out of pocket and will receive 25.00 back in Swagbucks. The Swagbucks will purchase a gift card that will be used to buy the budgeted pet food. All during the year , I will swap that cash out for giftcards. Often by the end of the year I have made a considerable profit off these deals. Hope some of this made sense. My brain is being a little wonky today. I hope you all are finding a happy way. Life has been very unexpected but changed for the better. Thank you dear friend.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      I’m so glad that is how it all worked out for you! And I am thankful for my kind and generous readers!

    2. S. CO Mary

      Your great news made my heart sing! Mary

    3. Lynn from NC Outer Banks

      Lilianna, here’s to your wonderful 2020! So happy to hear of your new “normal” and good fortune. Be well.

    4. Laura S

      So happy for you Lillianna! My heart is singing for you!

  23. Stevie H.

    Being frugal is a new resolution for me so my frugal achievements will seem like baby steps. I used to be good at making money stretch because we had very little! As my husband’s income grew and my health declined for a bit, we used up the extra in conveniences. And small indulgences neither of us ever had been able to have. As a consequence, we live paycheck to paycheck most months. My husband has a job opportunity that would give him greater satisfaction and less stress as well as more hours home. But less pay. So the motivation is on to reign ourselves back in and get control of our finances. I’m convinced we can do it while living better and more mindfully.

    So my first step was to go through our bank account and really pay attention to where our money has gone. In doing so, we found $165 in subscriptions we either don’t use or didn’t know we had. Apparently our Amazon prime membership had four different movie packages tacked on costing us $40 a month. We had no idea and had never even used them. That has all been cleaned up. There are a couple of things we are paying for like a storage room that will be eliminated as quickly as possible.

    Dinner Saturday night……. our daughter had a friend over and it would have been so easy to order Chinese takeout. Which they would have loved. Instead we made homemade fried rice and some store bought potstickers. Everyone loved it and the meal only cost $11. Compared to the usual $45-60 for takeout.

    This one may seem dramatic but I’m throwing it in there. I took my daughter to Hobby Lobby for a couple of colored pencils for her art project and only bought the colored pencils. Even though I counted 14 things I loved and three of them hurt me just a little to walk away from. On an old day, I probably would have bought one. Two if they were on sale. And they are always on sale.

    Other than that, I’ve been turning off the heater and opening windows on mild days. Trying to use leftovers more carefully.

    I’m going to carefully read what y’all did and do better this week.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      Way to go! You can do it! Everyone can only start where they are and work from there about being more mindful of their spending.

      1. Stevie H.

        Thank you Brandy. I have long admired your site and used a few ideas here and there. When I knew we had to make some changes, your website was the first place I thought of. I love your philosophy of make life beautiful for less. And your photos are a visual treat.

    2. Mari in SC

      I think you did great! Not buying the take-out food was huge. Is your daughter old enough to understand what you are doing and why and is she willing to buy into it? If yes to all of that, the changes will be easier.

      Good luck with it!

      1. Stevie H.

        We have three children that still live at home (nine total) and they are all teenagers. By the time they were old enough to know what is what, Dad was making more money and our lifestyle had expanded. They may be just a bit spoiled. lol But this particular daughter is all about saving money, and not buying so much. She was thrilled. We are all trying to come into a mindset of simple abundance. Not denying ourselves everything and living bare, meager lives. But making do, making our own, finding more frugal ways of having what makes our lives feel comfortable. Thank you for the good wishes!

        1. Ann Lee S

          Stevie: well done to get onto the simple abundance wagon! Once you know What you spend your money on (check your past 3 months at least) You can list all by titles (grocery, medical, clothing, rent, gas, etc etc) and allot amounts from your monthly income to each title.
          this is called a Budget!!!! the goal is to reduce unnecessary expenses and balance your incoming and outgoing dollars.
          At first you will forget some. You will overspend in some areas at first. You will become frustrated. Keep at it. It may take up to a year to get yourselves on a balanced track of all expenses. Good Luck! there are many articles online regarding how to create a balanced budget which should include savings. ann lee s

    3. Laura S

      I have to say your story resonated with me. As our income grew, so did our spending (mostly mine because I am the purchaser for the household). You have given me a new sense of mindfulness and I will be doing the same. Thank you! I am visiting some of our children (college students) in Florida for a couple of weeks and am heading to the grocery store for ingredients to make dinner instead of taking them out. You just reinforced that determination.😊

  24. Becky

    This past week, we spent the first few days cleaning up our Christmas things, cooking meals ahead, and cleaning the house. Then, my sister and brother-in-law took us to the beach for a few days. They have a time-share, and generously booked us a unit. They know that finances are difficult for us right now, so when they invite us places, they are totally on-board with us eating in the time-share with its complete kitchen. They did take us all out for their daughter’s birthday lunch. Otherwise, we took our own breakfast and lunch foods, and each planned 2 dinners. That way, we each only had to cook 2 nights and we all ate dinners together. I packed lightly, so we were able to take the small car instead of the van, saving gas. There was a washing machine in the unit, so I did the laundry as we got it dirty, using their soap and power. We did have a few expenses. We paid for gas and food. We also hired a young lady to stay at our house and watch over things, especially our dog. I went grocery shopping for her and left her requested foods in the fridge.

    There were lots of free or low-cost activities for the kids to do. I put pictures of some of them on my blog: http://beckyathome.com. I did some school with our daughter. My sister and brother-in-law did school with my daughter’s friend, but the girls and my nieces and nephew had a lot of time for fun. They brought this young lady on the trip to get a lot of schoolwork done, as she is on a satellite homeschool program that requires a certain amount of schoolwork to be done by Jan. 24, and she was falling behind. So my sister basically told her she would take her along on a really fun trip, with a lot of time for fun, but she would be working several hours a day on school to get to where she needed to be. So, true to her promise, my sister took the kids to the arcade a couple of times My sister also bought all the kids sweatshirts.

    It was very windy, rainy and cold there, but we had a blast anyway! We didn’t go down to the beach once. The one time my sister and I tried to take a walk, it began to hail on our heads, so we immediately went to the exercise room instead. The patio furniture blew across the deck and the wind blew the barbecue out when my husband was trying to cook. We just choose inside activities, and swapped the kids off and all got some time to rest!

    Between the food for the dog-sitter and her fee, the trip and the big shopping trip today, I’m about done shopping for the month. I was able to use quite a few digital coupons, including a $10 off my groceries. I got some great deals like cereal for $1, 2 pounds of shredded cheese for $4.99, milk for $1.99/gallon, and more. I plan to buy just a few small items in a couple of weeks, like lettuce, but won’t need much. My freezers and pantry are overfull, as well. I will keep salad ingredients in the house at all times, though, as my husband continues to eat low-calorie. Since he’s lost around 150 pounds, I am not going to let a tight budget undermine his good work!

    1. DonnaMarie

      Congratulations to Rob!

    2. Ann Lee S

      Becky I checked the photos of Rob on your site, congratulations to him, he has done so well. Is he feeling much better for the loss?
      Well Done Rob!! als

      1. Becky

        Ann,
        Thank you for asking, but I’m sorry to say, Rob is more miserable than ever. His left hip, that needs full replacement continues to worsen. But, he keeps his spirits and good attitude up as much as he can, and tries to keep moving, although it is very, very slow movement these days.

        There have been some setbacks. Right now, his medical files are stuck in 2 doctor’s offices. This is because of insurance company changes, 2 of his different doctors changing offices and those offices being affiliated with a different hospital in one case, a clinic being bought out by another organization, and the referral to get surgery that has expired while all this happened! When I sat in the orthopedic doctor’s office in October, we were assured that these things would be all handled, everything would proceed as usual, and he was congratulated on losing the weight he needed to lose, told they would handle everything, and that they would see him early January to schedule the surgery. Well, that’s not actually how it is working. He called several times during December, and they told him everything to “yes, we have it handled” to “no, we have NEVER heard of you (like for a whole day!). But, Rob is determined, to say the least, and so he has been personally calling records offices to replace the records one place claims it never got, calling to see what is needed, calling other doctor’s offices to get things sent over, drove around town and found where one doctor is moving to by her vague description in December (she wasn’t allowed to give out phone numbers, etc., because she was changing companies), made an appointment with someone for now to hopefully get the referral re-done, one for our old doctor for later, filled out forms to transfer the records over there, and so on and so forth–the royal run-around. I am confident that Rob will prevail, it just will take a bit of effort. The same stubbornness that gets that man out of bed every morning right now when he’s in so much pain is what’s going to get this done, along with the many, many people we have praying for him. I’m so proud of him.

        1. Laura S

          Becky, I am adding my prayers. Just a tidbit…ask for an anterior hip replacement. If they go in through the front the procedure is not as bad and recovery is much easier. Going in through the posterior (rear) forces them to cut all the muscles in the rear. People who have anterior hip replacements have much less pain and a much quicker and easier recovery.

  25. Jen A

    I always think I won’t have a thing to share this week but then once I read all your lists I remember many little economies that I take for granted. Thank you all for sharing. I learn so much.

    FRUGAL
    * Harvested tomatoes and tangerines from the yard
    * Started a jar of lactofermented garlicky green tomatoes when my 3yo helpfully harvested some unripe tomatoes
    * Started a new batch of citrus-peel vinegar for cleaning
    * Paid two city fees with old-fashioned checks mailed with forever stamps that I got for free from a friend’s mother’s estate; this payment method saved $6 in online processing fees.
    * Filled up the car at the lowest-priced debit-card-only gas station
    * Received new oven mitts, toddler socks, baby clothes, a pizza cutter and an extra set of Cal King sheets for our bed from our wonderful community Buy Nothing Group on Facebook; gave away snow clothes and several Christmas gifts that we didn’t have room to store
    * Cloth diapered the baby part of the time
    * Cloth pads and menstrual cup for myself
    * Hung the laundry out to dry on warmer days
    * Started flower seeds, peas and tomatoes in our reusable ceramic seed-starting pots
    * Got a free sandwich for using a restaurant app
    * Used a BOGO deal on whole chickens from Sprouts
    * Made my French press coffee at home most days during the break and rinsed our the grounds under our big tree–the worms enjoy coffee too
    * Borrowed two ebooks from the library (finally got Educated by Tara Westover!) and put holds on two others
    * New Year’s Eve was a lovely simple evening at home: digital rental of the Downton Abbey movie, a couple of beers and a bowl of stovetop popcorn purchased from the bulk bins at Sprouts.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      What a deal on those sheets! I have a Cal King myself and I know how much sheets can be!

  26. Wendy

    Gorgeous jacket!

    Happy New Year to you and your family Brandy. I am looking forward to following you again this year.

    Lorna, I am hoping you stay safe there in those truly dreadful fires. Praying for you all.

    Warm regards to all,
    Wendy
    New Zealand

  27. Jenny

    Margaret@approachingfoid, an Aussie says thank you. 🙂
    For frugaling, I requested a dehydrator for my birthday and Christmas combined. My birthday is in September, so it wasn’t until Christmas that I got the dehydrator. FANTASTIC!! When it looks like I might not use food from my fridge soon enough before it goes off, I wash and cut up the item and then dehydrate. Once you pop the dehydrator on, it’s very much set and forget. So far, I’ve dehydrated onions – 11, garlic bulbs – 3, oranges – 3, apples- 3.
    The apples, oranges were about to go. Now they’re shelf stable for a few more months. The onions were on their last legs. The garlic I bought to test out dehydrating garlic.
    I’m going to try to make jerky towards the end of the week, but so far the dehydrator has saved me a fair bit off food.

  28. Riley

    Man what a great coat! This week I continued to use cloth diapers, tried to keep the heat a degree or two colder, ate from our freezer and cooked from scratch, tried to use swagbucks for my search needs, and got gas at the cheapest places I could. Pretty routine. Extra things:
    – pinned something patterns for redoing my daughters liner for her baby stroller. Her birthday is in two weeks and that and a homemade baby bjorn will be her presents.
    – found a recipe for homemade hot chocolate mix and made it. It’s not quite as sweet as Swiss miss, and I’m not sure if it was any cheaper, but at least I know what’s in it!
    – kept track of what we have for upComing Christmas and birthday presents on a note on my phone
    – returned some things to TJMaxx that I was given for Christmas and used part of the gift. And to buy myself a new paper planner!
    – returned some things to Home Depot that I overbought
    – not really frugal, but I went to Michaels and bought wreaths for our windows and garland for our front porch at 80% off. I’ve wanted these for years and finally sprang for it!
    – bought ibuprofen and Tylenol with a doctors note for the kids so I could redeem it for my flexible spending account

  29. Jenifer

    Your roses are stunning! Like some said above a welcomed sight, as snow is falling here.

    My passport needs renewed (to be able to help get a required real id). I used my Triple A membership to get my passport photo taken (it’s free with membership) and they helped me feel confident mailing what I needed directly to the passport office as opposed to paying a convenience fee by renewing through the local library.
    On Christmas day this year, I lightly joked this coming year was going to be a handmade/thrift gift giving year to family members They were relieved someone started the conversation are all on board to do the same.
    We attended a family reunion and were given the leftover food to take home. The dress I wore to the party was a high-ticket re-sale brand on Ebay. I bought it at the pay by the pound for about $2, was careful while wearing and then sold on Ebay for a nice profit.
    My employer gave me a GC to Amazon as a holiday bonus. I used that to purchase household needs.
    I used leftover dressing from salad kit dressing packets to use as a dipping sauce for my vegetables in my work lunch. We usually have a half a packet leftover when we buy those kits.
    Hoping everyone has a prosperous week!

    1. Jean

      I have a question, about the Triple A and the photo. Where did you have the photo taken to use the membership?

      1. Heidi Louise

        Our local U.S. post office does passport ordering and I presume renewal. A year or so ago, they switched to doing it by appointment rather than just walking in, and it includes photo taking.
        Walgreens used to do passport photos but I haven’t seen them advertise that for a couple of years.

      2. Max--again!

        I recently had mine done (on a good hair day, LOL) at Rite-Aid for $3. I think Walgreens still does them.

      3. Jenifer

        Jean,
        I went to the Triple A office. These wonderful incidentals are part of the membership.

      4. Andrea Q

        Do you have an AAA travel agency office in your city? They take passport photos on site. The one near us is in a strip mall. I believe they also sell insurance from that office.

  30. Melissa Y

    The New Year has not started off frugally as my car has decided to no longer reverse! It is currently at the transmission shop & we are awaiting an estimate. In the meantime we are eating from freezer & pantry and spending evenings in. We have 2 planned outings later in the month, both fundraisers, so we are looking forward to and are budgeting for them. Whenever I get discouraged or need ideas I always head to this blog. It is always positive & filled with helpful ideas. Thank you Brandy for creating this community!

  31. Meg

    I love the fresh start of the new year! Here are some things we have done to save money this year.
    -My husband and my father fixed multiple problems on our one car, saving us at least a thousand in parts and labor.
    – Instead of buying the last few Christmas gifts, I sewed two flaxseed heat pads and gifted some jars of canned pickled peppers we put up this summer.
    – I cut my three boys’ hair.
    -We are also eating from our pantry and freezer. I am hoping to slash our grocery bill by at least half if not more.
    -Began our next quarter of homeschooling and resisted the urge to buy any new books, materials, etc..
    – Reading books from my shelf or from the library.
    – Mended my daughter’s skirt.
    -Baked homemade bread and focaccia as our part of a Christmas potluck dinner. They turned out great!
    -Hubby and I have a date planned later this week using a gift card we received for Christmas.
    -Exercising by taking daily walks outside while my children play.
    I love the saying “ Use it up, wear it out, make do, do without”. Have a blessed week!

    1. Pam Wager McCormick

      Megan I absolutely love that saying also so nice to see it said

  32. Jennifer O

    Spend the last 2 ½ weeks in Las Vegas on vacation splurging on fine food and wine and visiting several parks, historical sites, and museums. While there rather than go to Starbucks, we brought coffee and tea to make ourselves and ate at several ethnic restaurants away from the Strip to keep costs down.
    Not a totally frugal time, however it was budgeted, and my husband’s winnings covered all of our expenses for the trip except the kennel, so I can put that budgeted money back into the vacation fund.
    We were planning to go to Puerto Rico in February, but given the earthquakes are epicentered right where we were going, we will have to see if that is still an option or if we need to select a different destination.
    I decided I needed a warmer coat if we’re going back to Vegas (or anywhere outside of Florida!) next year so I will watch the clearance sales.
    Catching up back at home. Cleaned out 2 closets and a dresser. Continued cleaning bathroom cabinets and taking inventory. Made a large pile for the Salvation Army. Skipped the grocery store this week (and probably next week, too) by eating found leftovers, soups and casseroles from the freezer.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      Which museums did you visit while you were here?

      It was quite chilly while you were here. I had a photoshoot out in the cold during that time. Thankfully everyone wore lots of layers!

      1. Jennifer O

        We went to the Mormon Fort, the Mob Museum, and I gave a lecture at the Atomic Museum (with a private tour). Then we went out to Canyon of Fire to hike after the rain/snow – it was amazing and some of the small canyons were green!. Next time (I’m speaking at a conference there in July) we’ll hit the Liberace house/museum and the Natural History museum – and try to schedule a photo-shoot with you!

        1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

          We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain this year!

          It would be great fun to take your photos!

  33. I

    DD flew back to uni on Sunday but her flight was cancelled and she was delayed for about 16 hrs. We have new legislation in Canada that the airline should owe her $1,000 if the delay is over 9 hours was within their control. We have applied and hopefully she will receive it-it was a free airmiles ticket so a good return on investment. I could have actually driven her home faster( about 11 hrs) than flying but there are several mountain passes which we prefer to avoid in winter. We have topped up our Tax free savings accounts and added up our medical expenses prior to tax time. As well we have reviewed our spending/saving for last year and plan to follow a similar path this year. Happy New Year to all.

  34. Siiri

    I love the 1st picture! Also I am in awe of your family´s sewing skills. Home-made stuff is such a luxury!

    As I went back to work part-time, I am tempted to buy new clothes and shoes. I had to remind myself that I already own similar items I´ve been eyeing and I do not wear them. I have reflected what I tend to wear and what I would like myself to wear. Therefore, I try to get rid of my “too comfortable” shoes, jeans etc, otherwise I wear this stuff all the time. I have donated several pairs of footwear already and thrown out clothing. Also, I have been driving my own car for a few years now but my wardrobe still reflects the times when I used to walk/bicycle a lot. I want to get rid of that stuff. Therefore, I need to downsize! So I´m working on that! It´s fun!

  35. Diana in Indiana

    Happy New Year! I have 10 employees who report to me and I wanted to give them a small Christmas gift (they all get a bonus from the company as well). I used scrap flannel and sewed handwarmers with a cute note. We met our out of pocket max for health insurance so in December I filled all our prescriptions and scheduled a procedure a little sooner than normal at no cost to us. I sold a small table and some extra throw pillows and used the money for a new to me pair of shoes and some pillows for our porch chairs. Did a freezer inventory and planned meals around what was in there which cut our weekly grocery bill in half.

  36. Patricia Koernig

    So glad you get to be closer to home for the treatment, Trish! Continued Grace to you and yours.
    Patricia/Fl

  37. Stephanie

    I gave my husband and sons haircuts. I baked muffins to pack in lunches. I went to the library to check out new books and made sure to renew or return books on time to avoid fines. We opened a savings account for our youngest child before the end of the year because our credit union was offering a free match on the first $25 deposit. Our older children already had savings accounts. We set up online account access for all of them to make it easier to track and add to their savings. My husband took our two oldest kids to see the new Star Wars movie, he used up the rest of a movie theater gift card we had. I really wanted to see Little Women with my sister, so we went to a matinee showing. We went to my parents’ house to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We brought card games to play and food to share. The food we brought was Christmas treats that neighbors had given us.

  38. Jean

    I love the fresh start each new year brings! Time to assess and plan is always a delight for me, even if things change drastically! Having family in from out of the country and having the entire household sick for three weeks was not what I anticipated but tried to make the best of things and enjoy having them here. I refilled all cleaners with homemade solutions and deep cleaned the bathrooms and bedrooms! Made more citrus cleaners too! Washed all bedding and air dried it even on the cooler days, nothing better than sun-dried bedding. My neighbor is very generous and does not have children; she has given my daughter bags of clothes for her stay here and was cleaning out linens and gave me two sets of clean towels in like-new condition and six throws and blankets. We now have enough when more family comes to stay this month and next. I did not have enough for 15-20 people and now I do!

    I bought a good bit of marked down produce and made two batches of Skinny Monkey cookies and a banana coconut bar recipe. All of these are shag are free as I resume my sugar fast. It really helps me to reboot after the holidays. I will continue to make sugar free alternatives for me that are also GF and DF!

    I have been taking the grandkids to our newly renovated library at least three times a week as they do not have a library where they live. Our is bright and airy and there are puppets and puzzles and they are so happy to hang out there!

    While going to the dump to take trash after the holidays I found a bag of like-new books I will take to a used bookstore. I also got two pairs of great cleats for the grandsons, a frisbee, basketball and soccer ball. It is amazing that people dump stuff rather than donate at the GW, which is two miles up the road.

    I am purposing to add to my stash of home remedies this year and add to my knowledge base, so I am checking out numerous books on herbs and home remedies. There is a goldmine of excellent references out there and they include home cleaners as well!

    So thankful for each of you and Brandy for blessing us by sharing your life at home, with us!

  39. Kandace

    We still have Christmas treats that we are eating–chocolate, citrus fruit and some cookies. It’s a nice way to extend the holiday and use what up is on hand.
    My dryer stopped heating. It’s at least 20 years old, but a good gas dryer. I had a repairman come by yesterday. It was a simple part to replace and he cleaned out the lines. The repair was $150, but I have a dryer that should last for several more years.
    I got $65 in credit card rebate for the last quarter. I use my credit card for EVERYTHING and pay the bill off each month.
    We are planning on moving in a few months and I had a realtor come look at my house. I have been decluttering and still have more to do. Three rooms need repainting, but I can work on that a week at a time. I think I have some paint in the basement that I can use and will do that before I buy anymore. I have also been paying my property taxes on a monthly basis, but have cancelled that knowing that I am selling my house. That will leave a few hundred dollars more each month in my bank account.
    I am making a Fair Isle sweater using yarn that I have. I did need to buy two new skeins to complete the different colors, but I had a credit at the yarn shop where I get my supplies, so that was free. I still have credit for two more skeins. I should be able to make my sweater with very little OOP.
    I am challenging myself to walk a marathon in a few months. I have a discount for registration for the race. And signing up gives me the motivation to get out and walk 3-4 times a week. All in all, it’s an inexpensive way to get a lot of exercise!
    Have a wonderful week everyone and a marvelous new year!

    1. PJGT

      I’m thinking of putting everything on credit cards and earning air miles so we can travel more. Just need to pay them off each month! Good reminder, Kandace.

      1. Max--again!

        I have done this for years, and have been able to travel a great deal as a result. If you are currently paying all of your bills in full every month, you won’t have a problem. If paying in full is sometimes a stretch for you, don’t do it.

  40. Susanmarie in Pacific Northwest

    Hope you are all having a great start to the new year. School has started again, so I have some alone time now to get organized. Working on using up food in the freezer in my refrigerator that accumulates all the bits and pieces, opened bags, single servings of leftovers, etc. It will feel really good to finally get through that!
    *I was going to have a low spend/no spend January, but have changed my plan. After looking at significant holes in my pantry supplies and emergency supplies, and given the current state of world affairs, I needed to stock up a bit on bulk food items and batteries. Now I feel I have a very well stocked pantry in case of emergency. I have a few more items to buy, but will keep a list and watch for the best sales.
    *We had packaged snacks and cereals from the holiday that were not used. My family is changing the way we eat, and no one was interested in these anymore. I was able to share a grocery bag full on my local Facebook Buy Nothing Group.
    *My husband used to take individually packaged microwave food from Costco like hamburgers or philly cheesesteaks to work for lunch. Now he takes a sandwich made with lunchmeat (we buy lunchmeat in bulk, slice with our meat slicer and package and freeze in 1lb bags) or a baked potato. I found that if I pre-bake potatoes and leave them in the fridge, he will grab them to heat up at work. So proud of him. We are saving lots of money and he is almost to his goal of 30 lb weight loss! Now, I have to get him to give up his habit of buying cases of individual bottles and cans for drinks.

    1. PJGT

      Susanmarie,

      We are doing exactly what you are doing. Stocking up on items that are needed. I just bought cases of beans, tomatoes and peaches. As well, I stored away extra baking goods from the holiday and am looking at what would happen if we were not able to shop ((for whatever reason) for months. Smart advice.

      Ttish

  41. Nancy in Eastern Washington

    Didn’t do too much the first week of January. I made homemade turkey soup on New Year’s day using broth I had made from our Christmas turkey. Used carrots, onion, corn and garlic from the garden. Also used some dried zucchini from the garden. This is the first year I have tried to dry zucchini, and this is the first thing I have tried it in. Turned out really well.
    Brought breakfast and lunch to work the days I worked.
    Had my Mother and niece (who is visiting from her teaching job in South Korea) over for dinner after church on Sunday. Made a spiral ham in the crockpot using one of the 99¢ per pound hams I bought a couple of weeks ago. Also had cauliflower with cheese sauce, using frozen cauliflower from our garden, and homemade rice-a-roni. Made a big salad too. My son’s girlfriend had given us a jar of dandelion jelly she made – so we had biscuits also so we could try the jelly. Had a very delicate flavor.
    Was able to get a half gallon of 1% milk, and a half gallon of chocolate milk for 99¢ each from Fred Meyer. Their chocolate milk makes the best hot chocolate. Also got 2 pounds of provolone cheese (my DH’s favorite) for $4.99 a pound at Fred Meyer on their 3 day sale.
    Got my mother 6 grapefruit when they were on a one day sale for 3 for $1.00.
    Only spent a total of $36.77 for the week.
    Increasing my 401-K contribution to 20% of my salary for 2020. Thought that was fitting.
    Hope everyone has a great week.

  42. Darcy

    What a cute jacket for your boy! Winter did a wonderful job. My husband and I have some goals for this year. The first one is to get out of debt-that is, everything except our mortgage. That will take more time. This month will be the end of credit card debt for us and then we will then tackle my student debt. How we meet these goals is the key. We will not be spending on any extras for the month of January-only on things we need like bills and groceries. I had some blizzard fleece to make a couple of blankets that has been hanging out in the closet for a couple of years. I finished one blanket this week and will start the other this next weekend. We have been saving money by eating less meat. I used a half pound of burger for our chili this week instead of the whole pound I usually use. We started about a month ago and it shows in our grocery spending. I have been making lots of soups and bread for our meals. So comforting and filling. We have been staying home more, playing board games, and watching old movies together.

    1. Ann Lee S

      D’arcy, my interest is budgeting and helping others do so … congratulations on reaching that goal, be proud of yourselves! Another way to save on food I use is to go ahead and use the whole pound, but double the remainder and freeze the leftovers for another meal. (you can see I don’t care much for cooking). good luck with your student debt, you now know you can do it! ann lee s

  43. Jacki George

    My little area had a Grocery Outlet Bargain Market open about three weeks ago. I visited for the first time last week and was more impressed than I expected to be, what a nice surprise and it should really help the community. We have one large supermarket (Vons) and a couple locally owned small stores, all prices are high with little competition. My younger daughter and I make a trip to the city once a month for groceries, HBA, cleaning products etc. It does cost in gas and time but it’s our girls day out and we definitely save more than we spend on gas. Also gas is sometimes as much as fifty cents a gallon cheaper there than here in our little country tourist area.

    Someone else mentioned just signing up for Social Security. I am a widow and can start SS at 60. I just called a couple weeks ago to get the process started. I have a phone appointment in three weeks, I’ll turn 60 in March. I have all my documents gathered that they say I’ll need. I’ve been living off my husband’s life insurance and the small retirement benefit from his company since his passing six years ago at age 52.

    Brandy I too (as many mention) enjoy your blog and all the comments. You have such a lovely family and pour so much time and love into them, what a beautiful person you are.

    So far here in central CA we’re having mild weather for January yard I haven’t needed the heat on much which is a nice savings. I like my little house cool anyway. I was going to switch propane companies this summer as mine seems to be one of the higher-priced ones but then they called with special pricing if I agreed to a fill up, that turned out to be a savings over switching. A lot of homeowners in my area have been receiving notices of non-renewal when their insurance policy is due because of the drought and fire danger and a previous devastating fire we had. Mine renews in February so I had been dreading getting that notice. Luckily my insurance agent (after receiving a notice my company would not renew) searched and found me another company before I even knew I’d not be renewed. The new policy is only $17 more a year, yeah.

    I hope everyone is enjoying the new year and finding ways to save money.
    jlg

    1. Holly

      I hope your social security sign-up goes as smoothly as mine. I signed up online. Despite triple-checking the form, it took less than a half hour. Within a week, Christmas week, I was notified by email that I had a communication I could sign into the website to read. I assumed that meant I would have to bring some documentation to the local office. No. It was the award letter. On the second, I received the paper version of the same letter in the mail. I checked with my bank two days later, and my first deposit was in my account.

  44. Cindy in South

    My comment is for a couple of weeks. I bought a $250 round trip ticket from Atlanta to SLC for late in the spring. I also sent my daughter money to purchase a round trip ticket to my beach conference. She and her child can stay with me. I rented a room for two nights at Motel 6 for my sons to come visit their sister while I am at the beach conference. It was $127 a night, so reasonable, for high season on the Gulf Coast. They will drive down, it is only a few hours away from where they live. So, I have summer vacation/trips all set for 2020. I made turkey casserole with the leftovers from Christmas, just like I did at Thanksgiving. I did a traditional New Years Meal of black eyed peas, collards, cornbread, and pork ribs. The black eyed peas were a dollar for a pound, and I cooked them in the crockpot. The collards were 99 cents for a huge bag and I only cooked about half. The pork ribs I bbq’d in the oven, and they were $1.45, and I had the cornmeal on hand. I ate on this all week so it was a very inexpensive food week. I froze part of the black eyed peas, and also made a dip of drained black eyed leftovers. I put sour cream, mayo, spices, onions, water chestnuts, and crunchy seeds, in the drained black eyed pea dip. It was fairly tasty. It has been fairly warm here so I have kept the heat off as much as possible. It is supposed to be in the high 70’s and storms/tornadoes again this weekend, and then turn colder. I have tried to stuff more money in savings, and IRA’s for the future. I am trying to beef up my emergency fund. I have household repairs I need to do.

  45. Laura

    Winter is so talented! Beautiful coat!

    Where do you buy your spices? I thought I remembered that you used to buy some online but I can’t remember where.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      San Francisco Herb Company. However, I now have a Winco nearby that sells bulk herbs, so I’ve been buying from there recently.

      1. Pam Wager McCormick

        How about things like chia seeds, flax or almond flour? Same company or do you buy in bulk elsewhere

        1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

          I don’t purchase those three items.

        2. Chris M

          Pam, I purchase those items in the bulk bins at my local Kroger affiliate. I find that or, perhaps, Winco, if you have one is the least expensive option. My only caution is the almond flour. What is your purpose in buying/using almond flour. If it’s because of a stringent need to be gluten-free, then be careful with the bulk bins because of cross-contamination. I do buy the flax seeds and then grind them with a coffee grinder. Works just fine.

  46. Kim

    We need to really buckle down and are working on paying off credit cards. On New Year’s Day, my husband and I got free coffee and cappuccino from Sheetz. They have free coffee all day New Year’s Day and this year we decided to try it. It was delicious. Received two free calendars this past week. Doing several offers at CVS, I was able to purchase two Pizzas, laundry detergent and fabric softener using extra bucks. The freebie at the grocery store was a large bottle of store brand Ranch Salad Dressing which picked up. Made soup using up some of the vegetables in the refrigerator and adding a can of cannellini beans and potato gnocchi’s. I also hung laundry on a rack and hangers when I could to cut down on drying costs.

    1. Mary Ellen McMahon

      Kim you must live in central Pa as we have tons of Sheetz in the area. I live near State College.

      1. Carol S.

        I live in State College. When I saw “Sheetz” I sat straight up and smiled, knowing I had some nearby neighbors on this board, even though everyone seems like a neighbor.

        1. Lynn from NC Outer Banks

          There are a few Sheetz here in NC as well!

  47. Karen

    I look forward to Brandi’s weekly post and all the comments and frugal ideas. It helps me to stay focused.
    I’m looking forward to retiring in 14 months. We began living from my husband’s pay beginning this month. My check goes towards mortgage payoff only. I am so grateful to be able to do so.
    My freezer is very low with prepared meals as we were eating my stock during the time I was doing so much Christmas baking (and paying for those ingredients), So restocking the freezer is a priority. I made a double batch of meatballs this week. I was still able to spend most of my grocery money on sale items for the freezer rather than things we need for this week.
    We have had almost zero food waste this week and prepared all food rather than take out
    I finished painting the last of our interior doors using paint we had
    I continue reading books from the library or ones I already owned rather than buying

  48. Elizabeth

    The jacket looks very nicely done, and the blue color is nice for Octavius, too. Winter did a nice job with the top-stitching; it looks even and straight. I was wondering; would you mind divulging which pattern she used? Also, where did you find the closures for the front of the jacket?

    This is a difficult time for us, but I find your site so encouraging. I love how you photograph the beauty around you. It is nice to find kindred spirits who are also learning to make life nice for their families with less money. We spent much less on Christmas presents this year than usual, but our family was very understanding. We enjoyed spending time together as a family, too.

    We are spending less on groceries and gas. Also, when I was able to fill one car up at a discounted price, I took two five-gallon cans with me and filled them up at the lower price. We like to keep a little gas on hand at home because we have power outages during storms. We have had one two-day outage so far this winter. We need gas for the generator to keep our freezer from thawing. We also like to have a little on hand to fill the car in case the gas stations are out of power and unable to pump gas, as happened after a big storm in the past. This week, it was nice to have the extra gas to fill the car, so we didn’t have to buy any. It is a temporary help since money is tight right now.

    We continue to eat meatless meals for health reasons. I tried a recipe for red sweet pepper sauce for pasta that we like that calls for blending one red sweet pepper with 1/2 cup of soaked overnight, raw cashews, 1/2 c water, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1/4 t onion powder, 1/4 t turmeric, and 1 t of salt and then cooking it gently until hot and thickened. I wished I had added the salt in 1/4 t increments because I thought one teaspoon made it too salty. I found this on a website some time ago, but I didn’t write down where I found it, so I must apologize to the recipe’s creator for not giving credit. This made enough sauce for about four servings of topping on spaghetti. I like the Ooreganics brand of whole wheat spaghetti noodles from Safeway. I think they taste mild enough that I hardly notice they are whole grain pasta. Like you, I also watch for sales on pasta. Grilled vegetables would be good with this recipe, but I used some frozen, petite mixed vegetables I bought on sale at Kroger’s this week. If I bought five packages, I could get them for $1.49 per pkg. instead of the shelf price of $2.49 each. We really like petite frozen vegetables, so I stocked up a little. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to buy frozen petite peas and corn on sale, and so I am stocked up on frozen veggies now. With only the two of us home now, this quantity will probably last us the rest of the winter. I am trying to buy only a little fresh produce and odds and ends to make meals from ingredients I already have on hand. It is cold and rainy here with no garden in sight, but I am planning to start this next year. We can at least grow potatoes here, and we have the space to do it and an abundant supply of good well water, if we can get the ground dug up for it. I don’t know much about gardening, but I guess there is no time like the present to learn.

    We splurged on gas for the car and went into town to the county library for one evening. We like to read magazine articles and look for things to check out. This time, my husband checked out three movies. One was a Christmas movie that we watched even though it was a little after Christmas. It was a nice change from researching cancer treatments. I checked out a book entitled Modern Style for Girls, by Mary Abreu, that has patterns and instructions for making size 7-12 girls’ clothes. Instructions for twelve tops and bottoms using the patterns are included in the book. I found that my 12-yr.-old granddaughter’s measurements fit the size 10 pattern since she tends to be a little bit slimmer. She and her sister, who is nine, have said they would love to have some skirts, and I have some scrap fabric pieces. The pants have an elastic back waist and a flat fly-front waist that would work for younger boys, also. I’m not that great at sewing, and my sewing machine has a major issue, but I did inherit my mother’s old Singer last summer, so I plan to see if I can sew some things.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      Elizabeth, the pattern is called the Downton Duffle Coat from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s sized from 6 months to 12 years.

      The toggle closures were from Hobby Lobby. They have them for less than Joann’s. For a child’s size, you need to make them smaller (not as long of a closure). Then they need to be reglued and they should be stitched on by hand. The fleece and minky were from Joann’s, but Hobby Lobby probably has minky for less. The stretch knit we used as a lining was from Hobby Lobby, who has it for a lot less. The coat zipper was from Joann’s.

      1. Elizabeth

        Brandy, thank you so much for the source information.

  49. Heidi Louise

    I love the jackets! I was fascinated by closures like that on a jacket I had when I was little, and would probably have sat in church and just stroked the fleece for a whole service.
    The first Sunday in January newspapers have probably the best coupon inserts of the year. I don’t understand why manufacturers put out very few of them on holidays or over the summer, as I keep shopping then! I was able to use several for basic items by combining them with senior discount day on full-price items at Walgreens, first Tuesday of the month. I keep track of how much I spend on Sunday papers and how much I save with coupons, and unfortunately, the deficit is widening. I wish to support print journalists, but it isn’t cheap. I don’t have a phone to support electronic coupon apps, and most print coupons are for name brand items we just don’t use.
    We shared some practical Christmas gifts that will be made good use of. My husband got me a gift certificate to the (shop local!) garden center and I got him a beard/mustache trimmer. My Dad got our son an electric razor, which, once he figures it out, will be good for him, and save a lot in disposable supplies.
    Much of what we do, as others have written, seems routine. I am running the dishwasher now with detergent tabs from a package I got for a dollar at a moving sale this summer. I bought another 99 cent “Plateau de Crudities” at the grocery store, originally $10.99 or more. I laughed so hard at the French name on the label: It sounds like a mountain of carrots and broccoli and such, with dressing rivers running down the side. The English “raw vegetable tray” is much more mundane.

  50. Jen

    HI Brandy- I would love your recipe that goes with the picture at the bottom of your page. It looks like a baked pancake with syrup and blackberries. I searched but did not see it. Your photos are gorgeous!

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      I made that from a recipe I found on Martha Stewart! It was a pancake in a sheet pan. I should find that and make it again; it was very simple. They’ll have it on their website for certain.

  51. Holly

    You can take advantage of electronic coupons from CVS and Dollar General from your home computer without a smart phone. Just go to their respective websites. I gave Dollar General our home phone number and the discounts at the store work.

  52. Mari in SC

    I love that coat. It really does highlight his eyes, too!

    I charged over $12,000 in dental work, rather than paying cash since there was no discount for doing so. The work itself is NOT frugal, but my credit card credits points on a 1 point per dollar basis and I redeem those for gift cards. Once I hit $15,000 in spending starting with the August bill, the points double. I charge EVERYTHING that does not have a fee if I charge, including monthly bills, groceries, restaurants, etc. If I calculated it correctly, at least 8000 of the points will double. I use these both for myself and to give gifts. With the gardening supplies and landscaping items I want to buy this spring, I’ll be redeeming a lot of points for Lowe’s or Home Depot cards. The points will double for every charge made through the July bill. The bill is paid off monthly so no interest or annual fees are paid. In my case, they make money off the fees charged to the vendors.

    I kept to the list of meals that I made up last week, including veggie subs, portobello mushroom pizza with tomatoes and cheese, pork roast with apples and sauerkraut, homemade veggie pizza, and quesadillas with bacon, cheese, bell peppers, and spinach. I precook bacon and cut up veggies in advance to make meal prep quicker. I also made blueberry cobbler before the berries went bad and assembled 5 jars of individual servings of oatmeal (1/3 cup oatmeal, 11 raisins, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar) to mix with milk and heat in the microwave. I counted the raisins because they have a LOT of carbs in them.

    I selected and signed up for my Medicare supplement and prescription drug plans. Since I do not take any meds, I went with a low premium plan, saving $24/month. It will take a lot of co-pays to make up that difference and if I ever do start taking meds regularly, I can change the plan in the next open enrollment period. Hint: If you do not sign up for a PDP when you are first eligible, you pay a monthly penalty that I believe goes up every month that you delay.

    I put down on paper all expected/known income and expenses through March. Even with the dental work and retirement, I am in really good shape. The savings took a hit from the dental work, but that is why I have savings.

    I bought my daughter Wilton’s melting pot from Joann’s using their 50% off coupon as well as a bag of chocolate melts and an insert that divides the pot in two so different chocolates, such as white and dark cocoa, can be melted at one time. Like me, she has trouble not messing it up in the microwave and I love my melting pot. The best part is that I ordered it in SC and she picked it up in Oregon near her apartment about 90 minutes later. She was THRILLED at this surprise gift. I have some things to send her and am going to include a number of my chocolate molds because I just don’t make them that much anymore. It’s a different season in my life than when she was young and we would make hearts or Easter bunnies.

    1. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      You just gave me a great idea! My crockpot came with a mini warming pot. I have never used it but I do make melting chocolate for making Easter rabbits and other candies. That would be perfect!

  53. Kim-Pacific Northwest

    Brandy,
    I love the fleece coat. Winter did a great job.
    My next door neighbor is a single mom (her husband is in the military and not there much of the time). She has 3 children ages 7, 4 and 2. She has her hands full. I offered to have the 7 year old girl come over for a couple hours last Friday to play with my grandson. She brought cocoa cups her grandma and her had made. It was melted chocolate chips with a candy cane and marshmallows. We placed those in the cup and added warm milk. They loved it! She was a very well mannered little girl. The 4 year old boy was very upset he didn’t get to come so he will be the next one invited over.
    This gives my grandson someone to play with and gives my neighbor a bit of a break.
    I organized my freezer and fridge and now have a list of meals to prepare based on what I have on hand. My grandson turns 7 years old this week. I purchased him a 2 man tent with my cc points so no cost to me. Our weather is predicting snow for next week so I also bought him a warm hat. He can camp in our backyard this summer in his tent.
    Thanks to everyone for their great comments as always.

    1. Mable

      What a nice thing you did, inviting over the little girl so her mother could have a break!

  54. Alethea in Central VA

    This is for the last few weeks…time got away from me.
    *Meals made were pork quesadillas, baked flounder with green beans and mashed potatoes, parmesan chicken with roasted brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes, grilled london broil strips with roasted potatoes and broccoli, shepherd’s pie, pan-seared salmon with macaroni and broccoli, sage roasted pork with baked potatoes and salad, grilled chicken thighs with macaroni and peas.
    *Attended our company Christmas party. Brought home leftover chicken, rolls and butter.
    *Used the free rolls and a ham I had picked up on sale to make ham and cheese sliders to help a friend out with a party she was throwing for her son, who just got ordained as a minister.
    *I was assigned a dessert for Christmas dinner so I made apple goodie (using apples that were past their prime).
    *Accepted leftover green beans, mashed potatoes and cookies from Christmas dinner along with 2 boxes of cereal from my mom.
    *Saved and packed up tissue paper, gifts bags and ribbon for next year.
    *Saved Christmas cards to cut into gift tags.
    *Served taco soup to my cousin and her family who came to dinner with a day’s notice. Very cheap and everyone loved it!
    *Served an assortment of leftover cookies to my bible study along with potato chips.

  55. That fleece jacket looks great!! And what a blessing to get that grocery gift card!! I have been thinking about making goals, as a lot of us probably do this time of year. I’ve been really inspired to make getting back to frugal living a major 2020 goal. I love that I get so many great ideas here, not only on the posts, but through all the comments and what people share!
    If you’d like to read my thoughts on making goals you can read them here:
    https://www.makinghomesimple.com/how-to-make-epic-goals-for-the-upcoming-year/
    Yesterday on a whim I decided to go to a very near thrift store and found some skirts for myself and my daughter, some fabric and some sheets I intend to use for fabric. Oh and also a couple of books. The skirts were a really great find! I’d like to find a good easy skirt and dress pattern for girls so that I can maybe make some of their play clothes at least. We are really interested in quilts again and I have been working on the one I started and my 9 yo daughter has started hand piecing her own! It’s so inspiring to read about the pioneers/settlers and how resourceful they were. We live in such abundance compared to them!!

  56. Maxine

    Mandy, you don’t need a pattern for a simple gathered skirt with elastic waist. You can make one narrower than the directions below, but I like skirts full enough to be twirly. (If the child is a toddler, you probably only need one length of 45 inch fabric to be full enough).

    Cut 2 pieces of cotton fabric the length you want to make, plus extra for the elastic waist and hem. I usually add a total of 3 inches–1-1/2 inches for the elastic casing and 1-1/2 inches for the hem. For instance, if the finished length is to be 24 inches, you would need two pieces of fabric 27 inches long. Cut enough fabric off the side of each piece so that the width is 36 inches. (If fabric is 45 inches wide, cut 9 inches off each piece of fabric).

    Sew the two pieces together on both sides. Press the seams open. At the bottom, turn up 1/2 inch and press. Then turn up one inch, press and sew the hem by machine. At the top, turn up 1/2 inch and press, then turn up one inch, and press. This will form the casing for elastic. Sew around the casing exactly as you did for the hem EXCEPT leave a 2 or 3 inch opening. Cut 3/4 inch elastic a little smaller than the child’s waist and thread through the opening in the casing*. When the elastic comes through the other side of the casing, overlap the two ends about 3/4 inch and sew together.** Pull the casing flat and sew up the opening. You’re done!

    *Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic and push it through to get the elastic inside the casing..
    **With the ends of the elastic overlapping each other, stitch one end, reverse and sew over the stitching so it is double stitched. Then, do the same thing at the other end of the stitching. If you want to, you can sew an X between the two rows of stitching.

    If you are making this out of fancy fabric, you probably want a deeper hem. Sew it by hand so the stitching doesn’t show. It will hang better.

  57. Rachel Riley

    Dec 31- Jan 7
    Used gift card for NYE party food
    Received free can of BEP at bank
    Ate monthly stock up/food from fridge at home all week
    Meal planned for month
    Chris devised savings goals for year
    Reevaluated our spending in several areas, amended budget
    Sourced reimbursement for (expensive!) passport fees
    Used HSA for appt fee reimbursement
    Invited Shane and Natalie & boys for dinner- it was SO fun
    Game night with Chris’ parents- shared tub of free popcorn from student
    Accepted dinner at Gran and Grandaddy’s house
    Made returns to several stores- money back in account or in cash envelope
    Used budgeted cash for AA & my hair appts- I go 4 times a year. She goes twice a year.
    Brought my lunch and snacks for short course at school
    Checked out books at library instead of shopping
    Cleared out books in study- donated them and other items
    DIY Cleaned white couches
    Moved furniture for more space- the girls’ lr is looking so good!
    Spent $7 at bread store- 8 loaves, 3 bags pitas and 1 treat(redeemed free coupon)
    Hung laundry to dry
    Hosted AA’s friend(she learned a $$$ lesson abt ordering pizza)
    Used rosemary, onions and swiss chard from our garden
    Fed chickens with scraps
    Husband shaved his head/cut his hair at home

    Big expenses are looming, but we have a plan. I am so grateful for my husband, our income and our many blessings.

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