Frugal Accomplishments

How I Saved Money in the First Week of December

Christmas Table Runner Detail The Prudent Homemaker

I pulled out the beginnings of the Christmas decorations and began decorating this week. I hung faux wreaths on the front doors, in the living room windows, and a garland over the mirror.

I put down a white table runner and decorated it with Christmas decorations I already had.

We put out the nativity with some faux greenery on the piano.

I returned two items that I had bought that are not going to work out. I took my daughter with me so that we could look at nearby stores for shoes for her. We found a pair that she loved, but they weren’t wide enough. I went home and found the same pair online in her size in a wide for $7 less (that also had free shipping).

I double-checked the items I ordered for my daughters on Friday from Amazon. They hadn’t shipped yet and were on a lightning deal for $5 off each. I canceled the order and reordered them to save $10.

Amazon offered me a free month of Prime, so I signed up.

We received about a 1/4 inch of rain, so I was able to leave the drip irrigation off again this week.

I harvested Meyer lemons, pomegranates, and green onions from the garden.

I read another Kristin Hannah book that I had requested from the library as an e-book. This one was also excellent; it was Winter Garden (affiliate link).

I put rolled-up towels in front of our front doors to block the cold winter draft.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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96 Comments

  1. Hi Brandy!! We saved money by not buying anything we didn’t need. I told the kids we’re having a small Christmas this year and they’re fine with that. I want to focus more on experiences and Christmas traditions than gifts, because neither of them really “play” with toys anymore. I babysat all weekend and made a couple hundred dollars. =) Love reading your posts!

  2. My mom sent over more items..cans of tomato juice, a big tin of popcorn, package of cheese sticks , ice cream, cheese and crackers snacks.

    Mended 3 pairs of jeans and 1 sweater

    I thought I had tomato sauce in the pantry but there was only diced tomatoes so put one can in the blender to make my own.

    Redeemed more points on Receiptpal for another $5 Amazon gift card. Made sure to enter all receipts before I tossed them.

    My daughter attended a local Christmas parade with a friend .

    We had a harried night out Thursday…daughter had a Volleyball game at 430, then a band concert at 6. Ended the night with ice cream from Braums.

    Sold 2 more items and made $15

  3. -One day was spent filling out a claim for expenses on my business trip the week before, and putting a resume together, to support my request to renew my board appointment at the regional college. The three year term ends in March. The appointment is made by the government, which changed in a recent election, so only time will tell if I am selected. I hope so.

    -There were sale prices on cheese and butter and coffee. I had to get a rain check on the coffee, but stocked up a bit more on the other items.

    -renewed my library card, which was $5 less a year now that I am a senior.

    -My AAA card had lapsed in February when I was short of funds. I renewed it this week, when I had an offer that waived the renewal fee of $20. I also save $20 by paying the annual amount rather than signing up for a monthly payment. Two free movie tickets come with this offer. We’ll see if I am in town to take advantage of it. Once the package comes in, I’ll check where I can get discounts, and maybe save some costs there. The coverage is more expensive than it used to be, and also doesn’t include premium service in an emergency, without additional payment. Most times I have used it there has been no hurry to get help, and they also are good about finding help in locations where I don’t know who to call, so it is still worth it, I think.

    -I watched a lovely vlog (Northern Heart) last night on Swedish Christmas decorations in a country home. They are very beautiful, and the video has very sweet music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Suw2SzFkxbM

  4. We have been eating from the pantry and the freezer, to reduce what we have to move. I did purchase 4 whole beef rounds yesterday, as Meijer had them on sale for 2.99/lb. I canned them into round steak cuts, strips for fajitas, and cubes for beef tips and stew. I will take these to the new house this week when I go to transfer school enrollments, along with some rice and a few dishes so we will be able to eat on moving day! (The property is very rural, no delivery, and the nearest take out is 8 miles.)

    We will be moving to a septic system, and I had a shelf full of soaps etc that aren’t septic safe, all purchased on sale with coupons. I divided these between by adult children, which will save them money.

    I shopped a BOGO 1/2 off toy sale for the grandkids. I cashed in swagbucks and fetch rewards credit for an amazon gift card, which I used to purchase some warm slippers for my youngest, as the new house has all wood floors, which can be cold in the mornings.

    I made some more draft dodgers from fleece and batting I already had, as the new house has 5 exterior doors- totally too many, considering 3 (!) of them are in the family room, which is also farthest from the wood stove. As there was very little wood left, and anything cut now would be too green to burn, we bought 2 cords for $50.00 a cord, still much cheaper than propane at @.00 a gallon.

    We’ve arranged to rent out current house to a family member, which means we can delay some of our planned cosmetic “staging” projects until we can get the best prices on materials.

  5. I have been purging a huge walk-in closet. I have donated 2 large plastic bags for leaves outside full of clothing. I also donated 4 tall garbage bags of clothing. Along with that I donated 2 very large boxes and numerous small boxes of items I no longer wanted or needed.
    While purging I found Christmas and Halloween items I had bought on sale and packed away for the next year. These items have been in that closet for 3 years.
    I, also, started Christmas decorating this week. I am using a faux tree that is small and pre-lit.
    All bills were paid on time.
    I am eating out of the freezer for the next few weeks.
    My daughter gave me Disney + for her children to enjoy when they are here. I am watching it also.
    I have read 3 free books this week.
    My electric wheel chair quit working Friday night. No warning…it just stopped. Jake took it apart Saturday. It took a couple of hours, but he fixed it. He isn’t sure what he did, but it is running again. Thank goodness.

    1. I was organizing this morning and found a pair of gloves in the packaging. I don’t know if I had bought these as a gift for my eldest or for myself! I decided to gift them to another child this year. I usually hide things in the same places, but this was in with my clothing. I hope you can use the gifts still.

      1. I do/did the same thing! When my youngest was in fifth grade (he is now 21), he made a chart out. One side was for an item…one side for a location. At the top he wrote… “Where I Hide Things”. Hahahaha! I still have that chart,

  6. Brandy, I totally get the thing with your daughter’s shoe size. Mine hit size 9 at age 11; fortunately, 13 years later, she is still a size 9.

    I deep cleaned most of my house so I can start decorating for Christmas tonight. I already put up the Christmas decorations outside, including an artificial wreath and a wooden silhouette nativity set I already owned plus some “trees” that I created. The latter are in my white porch planters and each is made by tee-peeing (is that a word?) three 3-foot high sections of bamboo poles wrapped with strings of 100 warm white LED bulbs. I bought the lights at Lowe’s Black Friday sale for $2.98 each. They aren’t that attractive during the day but are fairly far back from the street so no one really notices them and they look wonderful at night. You can see them on my Instagram account, catsontheporch. I posted the pictures on November 29.

    My sisters and I attended a local theater group’s production of “A Doublewide, Texas Christmas” using tickets I bought as gifts for them, saving $9 in the process by using the senior rate for all of us. I also selected the restaurant where we ate dinner before the play, enjoying each other’s company while we ate some great seafood; one of my sister’s paid the bill and I got to take home some leftover Southern Boil. The play was hysterically funny, by the way.

    I set up an appointment with an insurance rep to go over various options for Medicare supplement and drug plans. I talked to two other sisters about this and they highly recommended talking to someone who works with the plans all the time. I’ve done a lot of research and want to hear what the consultant thinks. Since I have no known medical conditions and take no prescriptions at this time, it’s hard to pick a drug plan for potential future needs!

    Other than that, it’s the usual stuff – eating most meals at home, turning off the heat during the day since we still have not had more than a handful of cold days (that will change later this week apparently), using a rice sock at night to warm up the bed and an electric tea kettle to heat water to wash my face at night rather than the hot water, which turns on the hot water heater and uses more electricity, etc. My electric bill for mid-October to mid-November was $71 so my efforts are working.

    Finally, although it’s not a frugal or money-saving item, I took a lot of photos of two nieces and one nephew from when they were children in the 80ies and 90ies and gave them to the 10 year old twins of the one niece on Thanksgiving. They LOVED looking at the pictures of their Mom, uncle, and cousin when they were young. Their mom seemed to be just as excited to go through them. If you have pictures like this, I strongly suggest sharing them with the young ones in your life now, either by giving them to them or pulling out your albums when you next see the children, perhaps during the various upcoming holidays.

  7. Happy 2nd week of December!
    I’ll post my savings since I more than made up for it with new tires today. ?‍♀️
    I made little gifts for my girl scouts out of a llama soap mold and leftover glycerin soap that I had from previous project. Wrapping was leftover from previous year.
    My daughter made scrunchies for her secret Santa exchange using fabric scraps. Martha Stewart actually gave easy directions for something!
    I bought sale shoes for work using kohl’s cash, scrip for our school and upromise for a rebate.
    Reused holiday decorations we weren’t using for a holiday party game. Decided troop xmas party could include bringing a snack vs it all being on my shoulders.
    Took advantage of free shipping day.
    Trying my dad’s instant pot vs buying my own on a deal.
    Gifts are mostly needs this year or experiences. Less clutter and stress.
    Volunteered to run presidential volunteer service award applications for my kids’ scout troops and the associated venture troop. That way all 3 groups can save shipping money.
    Delegated! Asked a parent who lives by a place we need items from first if they could pick up an order before I drove to other side of town.
    I said no! Just because your child has an unexpected free night doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and take to school dance instead. We saved cost of last minute dress clothes, cost of dance, and 2 runs to school. And it wasn’t missed. I said you’d decided between x or y, and that was ok!
    Bought kids a treat from a historic candy store (homemade candy cane) instead of bag of sugar for stocking. Not much in$ saving but I feel like they enjoy it more.
    Arranged a carpools on nights with child event conflicts.
    Have an amazing week!

    1. I know scrunchies are easy (my grandmother made me some back in the ’90s!) but I needed a tutorial to make some for Christmas for my girls. I looked up and found the one you mentioned. Thank you!

    2. Robbie, I had to laugh at your “Martha Stewart actually gave easy directions for something ” comment! Years ago she came out with a book that had a wreath for every state. I thought the large cranberry one would be so stunning on the front door for our farmhouse wedding. After purchasing the book and all of the supplies, my sister and her three kids and I spent an entire day laboring over that wreath. It was beautiful while it was lying flat on the table. But then we picked it up and it broke in half because it was just too heavy! And that was before we even tried to hang it. It could not be salvaged. We were all a little heartbroken at the time but it is funny now.

  8. 1. Used up some old gift cards to buy books, gourmet bacon, and McDonald’s this week.
    2. Took my son to Gamestop to play the Nintendo Switch and then to the thrift store for a quick outing this week.
    3. Found a Dell laptop case for $4, a small carry-on suitcase for $3, and a few books at the thrift store that I plan on gifting to my niece and nephew.
    4. Collected twigs and small branches from our yard to use as kindling.
    5. Went to see the boats lit up at the marina and then the kids attended the local Christmas parade with their aunt for some free holiday fun.

  9. We got stuck in the big snowstorm in the Rockies over Thanksgiving (safely in a rented condo), but major road closures especially in southern Wyoming meant we had to take different and longer routes and spend more nights on the road. So when we ended up staying in Livingston, MT for a night, we visited Winco in Billings on the way home. The ground ginger that was $4.00 at Walmart cost 75 cents from the bulk foods. I love sweet potatoes so I bought several pounds at 26 cents a pound. The whole wheat flour at Winco is cheaper than any other place I can find it. And I did have to add a bit of bulk Christmas chocolates to the collection of Christmas baking that I will take east with me when we depart in another week.

    We are planning to drive east to visit family in Ohio and eastern PA for the holidays. We also are going to New York – this time the Long Island area to see some historical sites. So we’ll see how things go with the weather. It is not unusual for us to reroute from I-80 East to I-70 East if there are snow storms one place or the other. I try to bring all food for the road because it is faster, healthier and cheaper – but sometimes the best laid plans go astray. I washed ironed and mended clothes so that I could pack early for the trip. This time the color scheme is red, black, gray with one pink and one purple thrown in to mix it up. Last trip the color scheme was navy, cream and olive. Can you tell I have a little too much time available as a retired person?

    I enjoyed several books and movies from the library. If you are a Tony Hillerman fan, I recommend the books his daughter Anne Hillerman has written, continuing the same characters. I just read The Tale Teller.

    I bought a quart of prepared eggnog and was a bit disappointed with the flavor or maybe the texture, so I ended up making eggnog cookies with eggnog frosting. And since I didn’t use up all the frosting, of course I had to bake something else. so I made gingerbread bars and used the eggnog frosting. The bars were very satisfactorily spicy. I took the cookies to the museum open house since I volunteered there and before retiring had the job of collecting 200 dozen cookies from volunteers for this event. Baking a few dozen cookies was a lot easier job.

  10. Smart on stopping the order for the flash sale pricing!

    This week I worked around the home as much as possible. Getting mending done and baking breads for breakfasts.
    I found some small gifts at the pay by the pound for my parents. My dad had been wanting a tote bag with ONE zipper and I had also found a brand new Lands End bag that has one zipper and fits what he wants.
    I forgot my lunch (well I placed it in the mailbox with out going mail by accident) for work. Thankfully I keep a nice assortment of snacks in my purse, so I didn’t have to clock out for lunch or spend additional money. The mailman must have forgotten theirs too, because a few days later the container was returned with a note of thanks.
    The office I work at 2 days a week is cool and drafty right now so skirts and tights are cutting it. I was looking online for affordable office pants, but was able to find 2 pairs in gray and black at the pay by the pound that are perfect for the dress code requirements for about $3.
    I signed up and participated in an herbal workshop. It was a small amount of money for a mental treat for myself. I enjoyed knowing the teacher spoke of what we grow in our backyards and how it can be used (this was for bath teas, bombs and scrubs). Any extra materials can easily be bought at the Dollar Tree.
    Hope everyone has a peaceful week!

    1. That’s funny about the mailman! My mom used to leave a gift in the mailbox for the mailman this time of year.

      Your pay by the pound place sounds wonderful!

      1. Laughed out loud about the accidental lunch for the mail carrier. Really great when we can carry off a goof as something we had meant to do.

  11. Saved money on groceries this week as we believe we will be moving in the next 6 months or so, so I would rather eat what we have on hand than move it. The money we save will be used to purchase long term items later.
    I put my Christmas decorations and have decided that some of them can be discarded at the end of this year. I either don’t use them or they have become ratty. I purged my decorations by one bin full last year, but there is more that can go.
    I’ve also been cleaning and packing away a little bit each day. I do want to be deluged with a move.
    I too recently read “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah and really enjoyed the story.
    I’m happily listening to Christmas music while I work–it brings a lovely feeling into my heart.
    I also finished watching “The Crown” on Netflix–got into it again after having lost the password.

  12. 11 batches of apple muffin mix made and vacuum sealed into wide mouth quart canning jars. The dried apples were in #10 cans that we had dry pack canned at LDS Cannery here with oxy absorber packets back in 1998! As I was going through our food storage I saw some cans of the dry apple slices and opened one to see if they were still good. I had my doubts. But, amazingly, they were still crispy dry and the taste was perfect! So I chopped the slices into my new little Hamilton Beach food chopper ($1.69 on Black Friday online at Kohl’s after rebate and Kohl’s cash and Rakuten!!)The jars were among the 100+ that I was given this summer by a friend who no longer cans! Some of these jars will become gifts!
    Got 2 more Hollow Stars table runners finished for a client. https://pin.it/62ildsilgzz76n. I also got her Christmas truck memory quilt done as well. https://pin.it/qhvhk5rxgyrhtb. Here’s a photo of the backing fabric that I found with vintage trucks on it as well! Got this at JoAnn’s on sale (50% off) with an additional 25% off my total purchase which really reduced price! https://pin.it/ccfg77uyhjui4m.
    Got orders for another 3 Soup Cozie sets so I made those and got paid! https://pin.it/fngcdhjmiuchmm.
    2 more Hollow Stars Table runner orders came in today, so the special diamond ruler I bought is paying for itself!
    I just loaded a comfort/prayer quilt on Lenni that will be a donation to someone who just lost their spouse recently. So Lenni is giving service and that is a blessing of having it! https://pin.it/lzolc45pgqsmhi

    I discovered that I still had one tube left of refrigerated “Grands “ biscuits that I bought on sale for 59 cents and so I baked those up and, using leftover ham slices from Thanksgiving and eggs from our chickens after adding a slice of cheese to each one, I made up 8 breakfast biscuits for us!
    I cooked another one of our 33 cent/pound turkey https://pin.it/jomacmi35j6hfm and made “chicken” salad for sandwiches. Used craisins and walnuts that I had in my pantry. Family didn’t even notice the difference!! Lol!

  13. Brought my breakfast and lunch to work all week, except Friday. Our office provided lunch on Friday. My company Christmas party was Thursday evening. It was in an out of the way location – but gorgeous. the only thing frugal about it, was I didn’t have to make dinner that night. I had halibut, a crab cake and lobster mashed potatoes as my entrée. It was delicious. I guess the other frugal thing was that I didn’t get lost while driving there, and end up roaming around.
    Took a pork loin out of the freezer earlier in the week. My DH cut it into pork chops, and it made enough for two dinners. We had homemade rice-a-roni (I’m trying to perfect the recipe so I can make some as gifts. Many are too salty for me) and frozen mixed veggies that I made up from garden produce last summer. YUM! That worked for 2 nights.
    Went to the bread store and got my mom 4 loaves of pumpkin spice bread for $1.00 a loaf. she loves it. Put it in the freezer at her apartment.
    My DH found my Mom a small 3 shelf bookshelf at Value Village for $5.00. When her apartment flooded in September hers was destroyed. We took it over to her yesterday, and he did a couple other small things for her, that she just was not strong enough to do.
    Had great baking sales this weekend. Go 6 pounds of butter for $1.99 per pound. 6 five pound bags of flour for 99¢ each. Cream cheese for 79¢ – got 8. Canned milk for 50¢,unbleached flour for $1.49 for 5 pounds – got 10, chocolate chips for $1.49 – got 5, and oil for $1.49 for 48 oz. containers – got 5.
    Made peppermint bark, garlic cheese spread, snack cake mix (6 containers) rice-a-roni mix (finally got the proportions correct) made 13 containers, sausage biscuits for on the go breakfasts, white beans for white chicken chili, and a batch of spaghetti sauce.
    We decorated our tree with lights and ornaments we have had for years. When we travel, we always buy a Christmas ornament, or something we can turn into a Christmas ornament. We pull them out once a year and remember fondly our travels. It’s a lovely memento, but doesn’t collect dust all year.
    I took my mother to Costco on Saturday. It is the best place to get hearing aid batteries. For being this close to Christmas – it actually wasn’t too bad. I had to go anyway, because I get my sons a membership to Costco and a Costco gift card as their main Christmas present each year. They are in their 30’s and it works great for them. My Mom decided to get them Costco cards too – so her shopping for my boys is done. I then took her to Walmart to pick up her prescription – then back to her apartment. We visited for awhile before I went home, and started doing all my chores.
    We have a complete Thanksgiving dinner for our Christmas dinner too. I bought a large turkey, since we also host Christmas, and put it in the freezer for Christmas dinner.
    There was probably more – but that is enough for now.
    I hope everyone has a joyous week.

  14. –Most of our week was monopolized by the church Christmas program. My nephew, daughter and about 150 other people were involved. There were rehearsals almost every night, a special performance for special needs people (a little softer) and 3 performances. They have been practicing once a week since September, but this was the big week!
    –It turned out wonderfully and I ended up watching 3 practices or performances and it got better each time. I loved how it put me in the Christmas spirit and also focused on the real meaning of Christmas. We needed to transport our daughter and a friend one time. We needed to accompany our nephew several times. His parents handled the actual performances, but several of the rehearsals conflicted with their work hours. I was so glad that both of our children only joined the choirs (children’ and adults) because it was more than enough for them with that level of involvement. I was delighted that the kids had the opportunity to be involved in this. It meant a lot of me and brought me a lot of joy. Since this daughter did not come to us until she was 9 years old, I love it when she can get to do some things she missed out on when she was little–just in a different way.
    –I’ve been busy making Christmas gifts whenever I find a moment. I need to find more moments:). My husband has, too. We’ve both used things we have on hand to create gifts for people we love. We’ve also been gathering food items to use for gifts, as we find good sales on yummy things. I did a little Christmas baking and froze it to pull out when the time comes.
    –We decorated for Christmas. Pictures of some of our very simple decorations are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com. We don’t have much room, so I decorate minimally. It is going to be fun, and a bit challenging to fit about 25 people into my cozy house for Christmas, but we happily had 17 for Thanksgiving and everyone seemed comfortable.
    –We attended a school matinee of Matilda (the musical) at the Northwest Children’s Theater and School in Portland. (Oregon). We took our daughter and her friend, who is also homeschooled. The tickets are so reasonable for the school performances and we love going there. It was so fun and did not disappoint. We did not attend the Singing Christmas Tree this year. We love it, but used the money for our vacation in October. There’s always next year, and I’m glad we stayed on budget.
    –Because of the expense of the vacation, we are sticking to a close Christmas list this year that is not as long as sometimes. Still, I feel we’ve hit a nice balance and are remembering people we love in some way or other.
    –I made a soup that was entirely vegetables, mostly from last summer’s garden. We’ve had it more than once this week already. I used some of my husband’s pesto cubes (frozen in ice cube trays) for a great flavor in the soup, along with Italian seasoning. We also had some muffins my daughter made–yum! My fridge is too full, so I’m trying to get it down a bit before Christmas week. We just have the one small one that was in the house when we moved in, supplemented with a very small, rickety one that was given to us that freezes things, and the one in the camper. So, I have to be creative. It has worked for 3 years since we moved here! I mainly keep things like cheese, cooked soups or broth, etc. in the one that freezes everything and extra eggs in the camper.
    –It was a good week, and believe it or not, the next 2 are less busy, even though Christmas is coming up. So, I’m looking forward to that.

  15. Ah, Christmas spirit! I love it! I also love that you can harvest lemons and pomegranates in December — very cool to this Northern gal!

    My frugal accomplishments:
    – I made a batch of gluten-free cheesecake brownies (http://approachingfood.com/swirled-cheesecake-brownies/), using ingredients all bought on sale. including 10 lbs of flour for $8.77, which is usually the cheapest I can find. I also made my own oat flour by blending oatmeal in my blender. I froze some to put in my Christmas cookie tins.
    – I also made caramel slice (coconut shortbread/caramel/chocolate layered squares) using pantry items, also for cookie tins (and some for me. I mean, yum!)
    – I made two servings of tiramisu using tea biscuits from the dollar store dipped in leftover coffee made with free coffee from a hotel stay long ago, layered with a mixture of a few spoonfuls of leftover ricotta cheese mixed with some sugar and a chunk of leftover cream cheese, dusted with cocoa. Turned out great and helped clean out the fridge!
    – I stocked up on free-run eggs at $3.97/doz (usually about $6), butter at $2.88/lb, pasta at 50 cents/lb, and pasta sauce in jars at 99 cents (I use this as quickie pizza sauce or for lasagna, etc.), and bags of white and brown sugar at $1.77 each.
    – Using the FlashFood app, I bought a club pack of lean ground pork, a package of BNLS chicken thighs, and a produce box (basically a large bag of oranges, a large bag of clementines, a small bag of apples, and some pears and limes) all for $22.09.
    – I blanched and froze the broccoli heads that I bought on sale last week.
    – I bought some cream cheese on sale, I stocked up on milk as it was on sale, and was able to combine the sale and a coupon my mum gave me, to buy some lactose-free chocolate milk for myself. As well, I normally make homemade granola for my breakfasts, but found a sale on cereal that (once I send in my receipt for a rebate) will reduce the cost of each jumbo-sized box to $2.47 each. My fridge, freezer, and pantry are all full, and I expect to be able to skip grocery shopping next week.
    – I made cranberry almond fudge clusters (http://approachingfood.com/fruit-and-nut-chocolate-fudge-clusters/), to put in my Christmas treat tins at a later date.
    – Using the leftover condensed milk from the can that I opened for the fudge clusters, I made chocolate-dipped caramel wafer cookies (wafer sheets layered with homemade caramel). I melted the chocolate in a mug and then dipped the wafer cookies in the mug. Once all the chocolate from the mug was used up, I added some milk, heated it in the microwave, and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate! No (chocolate) waste!
    – I combined a clearance sale with free shipping and a cyber Monday deal to get 8 onesies, two pants, and a jacket for under $23 from Carter’s. These will be a gift for a pregnant relative. It would have cost more to buy it second hand from the baby thrift store near me, so I was very pleased with the price.
    – I mended two shirts and a pair of pants, and turned an old shirt into cleaning rags.
    – I was able to get two meals for two and a box of oatmeal from a meal subscription service, using a cyber Monday coupon code, for $5.99. I won’t renew the service after this week.
    – I made a batch of gluten-free tahini swirl brownies to serve guests when hosting a playdate. They look fancy, but were easy to make with ingredients I already had.
    – I used a high-value coupon to get a full-sized container of powdered formula for free, which I will either trade or donate.
    – I sent away for and received a free two-week sample of a higher end skincare regimen.
    – I cut open to lotion bottles to get the very last bit of lotion out of them using a mini spatula. I am also using up all the little hotel lotions and shampoos I’ve collected over the past two years (I intersperse using them with my preferred shampoo as I find them a bit harsher on my hair.)
    – I redeemed $10 in air miles to buy 4.5 lbs of organic apples at $1.29/lb.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  16. The past weeks have just been HARD. My depression/anxiety meds seem to be headed south and I am temporarily between doctors through no fault of my own. I spent the last couple of days working on referrals for myself and my daughter, a repair order for my computer, warranty issues, etc. The depression makes everything I do 100 times more difficult (like slogging through molasses). I’m pretty well caught up now, and I am going to be OK until I can get in to see a doc. No surprise, my frugal accomplishments were few and far between–
    * I paid my bills online, saving time, postage and check-printing costs.
    * I used the rest of my Office Max Rewards from the battery deal to buy a 2020 calendar with big squares to write on.
    * I bought more Progresso soup for .99 can. My husband has really enjoyed having lots of canned soup around if he can’t find anything else he wants for lunch. I haven’t done a lot of cooking.

    One thing I’ve done was to take the time to find repair parts for several broken items. None of them were easy hunts, but I persevered. My favorite fix: I was able to repair a 65-year-old hinge on a piece of furniture for .29 in parts!

    1. Sending you prayers for strength and peace, Maxine!
      I hope you can be gentle with yourself, even in the slow hard times.

    2. Sending kind thoughts Maxine and hope each day gets alittle better , glad you posted about your challenges and still amazing what you did accomplish

    3. I think what you have managed to do is amazing, given how you feel. When I have had bouts of depression, I have just wallowed around like an old sow, accomplishing nothing, so you have my admiration for carrying on!

    4. I’m so sorry to hear about your difficulties, Maxine. We’re all here for you! Feel free to email me at approachingfood @ gmail.com if you ever need to vent or want some support. For someone going through a tough time, you’re accomplishing a LOT! Big hugs!

    5. Maxine ,I have found myself thinking about you all week long. I hope you are having a better day since you initially posted. I had a professor tell me one time to just close my eyes and take a quick vacation. I find in my worse moments , I literally travel in my head and find a happy memory. I hope you are warm and snug .

  17. I did the Medicare renewal after doing a lot of research. There have been some health changes for both of us so we decided to go with a plan by the same carrier that has a $39.00 a month payment (instead of $0.00). The deductible is considerably lower, the reduced copay of specialist visits, the inclusion of basic dental (still have to have a dental supplement for both of us – I need a bridge for a missing tooth – luckily in the back so not seen but it’s a bit of a hassle), reduced co-pay for any hospital stay. Anticipating that I may need a hip replacement and SO may need a knee replacement redone. Getting second opinions.

    It will mean doing reducing something else but we think we’ve found areas to save. We’d gone with a security service as we thought we’d be gone for long periods of time in our RV. We know now that it will be for a month at most for the foreseeable future and we have some neighbors who have volunteered to really keep an eye on things. We’ve got gates on all entries so no one can just drive in and good yard lights. We live on a relatively busy road with a lot of farm activity going on all year long. I feel like we are more “noticed” here than in the city where neighbors could go weeks without seeing each other! I can go to the little PO and the carrier will say something like “your little dog is so funny – the other day he…” or someone will stop and comment on something like how our garden is going or our seasonal outdoor decorations! Many are third and fourth generation neighbors of my SO’s family so really aware and interested!

    Got out our decorations and reused them. I can’t remember if I posted this so forgive if a repeat. The bulls in the pasture next to the house got out one day and decided to use on of the pine trees on the outside of our “house fence” as a rubbing spot. Trimmed up the tree and rescued the branches. I bought a wreath form at Dollar Tree and am making a wreath for the front. I have enough to probably bring a few in the house. Did have to pick out the black cow hair though! We had to cut down a dead tree – and kept two big logs. We are going to have a yule log in the outside fire pit.

    We’re trying to do a few local events. Went last week to Electric Critters at the zoo – no expensive and a lot of fun. The only animals out were the penguins, red pandas and the nocturnal ones in one exhibit – and the Goats! They were so interested in why people were walking around at night. Rather funny. This week we’re going with a friend to a annual concert put on by the Air Force Academy band. It is supposed to be a lot of fun.

    Went to the annual library used book store’s 1/2 off sale. Found several holiday cds for 50c, cookbooks and holiday books for .50 each and several books on my list for a dollar or two. Found a couple of treasures, including a book printed in 1903 and in excellent condition. Will be able to sale it for 10.00 and I paid 50c!

    Watching holiday movies through Netflix and Amazon Prime. Am saving Cranford for near the holidays – love the Christmas one. I get BritBox and there are some really good British Christmas shows.

    Found pork loin on sale for 1.27 a pound – bought two. Will trim them and use that for green chile and posole and do the roasts on the rotisserie. Found poultry packages of herbs for $1.00 so am making some rosemary/garlic oil. Love that on the pork roasts. The local grocery store has shelves with produced reduced to $1.00 a bag – bought three heads of organic cauliflower – $1.00 each, four head of broccoli for $1.00. They had Bush’s flavored beans for $1.00 a can – I like to make a quick soup for myself (SO not much of a soup eater but I just love it for lunch and quick homemade so much better than cans) and large plastic containers (like you get at Sam’s) of seasonings for $3.00 – garlic powder, chile powder, cajun seasoning and seasoning salt.

    Am going back to heating a kettle of water and putting it into a thermos to use during the day for my tea or SO’s instant decaf coffee. We are really struggling with why our electric bill is 3x higher than any of our neighbors. We had them come out to make sure the meter is okay (it is). We have all LED bulbs, keep heat very low, have energy saving appliances, etc. The people who came out were really perplexed as there are just the two of us and we really don’t have anything more than our neighbors (everyone out here as multiple freezers for example). So we’ll keep researching. It was even that high when we weren’t here over the summer! There is one possibility – when our house was part of the whole farm it could be that somehow one of the out buildings on the farm was connected to this house. Although the farm was divided up something might still be connected. We found out that the yard light on the small farm house was actually connected to the well house across the road – owned by another farmer for years! So it is possible.

    We aren’t exchanging with family this year. Last year we told everyone that we were donating to a charity in all of the families name. Last year it was Boys Town and this year will be the Heifer Project. While initially it seemed that people were disconcerted everyone jumped in. None of us, and I mean none of us, really need Olive Garden gift certificates, etc. or much of anything else. The one cousin who is a fabulous baker said she will still make plates of cookies for everyone – we all agreed that was okay LOL.

    Have to say how much I appreciate everyone on this blog. For some reason the anniversary of my mother’s passing really hit me hard this year. As my grandmother would have said “I was lower than a snake’s hind end”. And the first thing I thought of this morning is Brandy will be posting and that made me very happy. So many of you feel like people I know well and shared struggles and triumphs and just the day-to-day really add so much to my world. Thanks to all.

    1. I’m glad my post brought you some peace today, Mary.

      The youngest has been making it hard to get the post up as early as I used to (no more Saturday night posts for me!) I thought I’d be able to earlier this morning, but he was up at 5:10 even after I thought I had him back to sleep after he woke at 4:40. I held him for a long time and he wanted me to color with him for a long time. I held him until 6:15, when I woke up my husband and told him I really had to get in the shower. At that point, I am behind in my morning chores and then we have school. So, if my post doesn’t go up until Monday afternoon, you can all know I’ve been holding the baby!

    2. S. Co Mary I could relate to feeling low, my Mom died 2012 and my Dad 2017 yet getting close to holidays gets harder each year. And I agree knowing the blog is here to read, the kindness and sharing of REAL life struggles with solutions is such a gift
      I am not sure Brandy will ever know her magic and her kindness she has shared

    3. Mary, I certainly understand feeling blue. I am going through all the “firsts” since losing my dear, sweet father in May of this year. Although I have SO many blessings and reasons for thankfulness, I am really struggling. Bright spots in the days are helpful. I too always look forward to Brandy’s posts and all the responses from this kind community.

  18. Here’s what we did to save money this week:

    * I bought a gift for my mom on a one day sale (saved $16 on a $25 item), and combined that trip with another in the same area to save time. I took the train so I didn’t have to pay anything (I get unlimited rides with my student pass).

    * I went through my gift list for everyone and was able to price out everything- I will have spent under $200 for gifts for 11 people.

    * My SO and I decided to not buy a game we were going to buy, because two games we’d rather play will be coming out in March. We will be saving our money for those instead.

    * I made creamy turkey wild rice soup using homemade broth (I used half of a turkey carcass and the neck), leftover meat pulled from the carcass/neck, vegetables, milk, and wild rice. I ended up with 5 quarts of it, which will feed us for several days.

    * I made tomato soup for my SO’s lunches (this one, but with some grated Parmesan cheese instead of the nutritional yeast and dry beans that I cooked instead of canned: https://www.budgetbytes.com/secret-ingredient-tomato-soup/ ). My SO said it was delicious- just the right combination of acidity, sweetness, and creaminess. I will definitely be adding this to the regular recipe rotation!

    * I made more honey wheat bread, and used up all of the honey in one jar by pouring hot water into the jar before using it in the bread dough.

    * I made more PB&J granola, which uses peanut butter, oats, bananas, vanilla, a bit of salt, and raisins. It makes a huge batch for maybe 30c a cup.

    * I feoze leftovers that we didn’t seem like we were going to get to before they would go bad. They’re in individual containers, making it easy to grab and defrost a serving.

    * I prepped potatoes for breakfasts. I like to steam the potatoes, cool them, then slice, fry, and serve with a fried egg.

    * I took stock of my extra spices in my overflow box (from previous SF Herb Co orders), since I am debating another one soon and I did not want to purchase items if I did not need them.

    I hope you all have a great week!

  19. I’ve started working on my Christmas tree. This one is a 10 footer my neighbor put out on the curb last year. She said the lights on it had stopped working. I used wire cutters to remove the bad lights and added my own. We have cathedral ceilings and it looks very nice in this space. I’m very excited to go to the local dump each week. The dumpsters were empty the day I went except for 4 large boxes stacked in the corner. After observing they looked to be shipping boxes unopened from home depot , I decided to investigate. These were brand new factory sealed boxes of LED outdoor lightbulds. 48 in a case. I have no idea what their value was but knew I couldn’t let them go on to the trash facility. I could only manage to get three cases out. If I had climbed in , I wouldn’t have been able to get out. I image my son would have been displeased if I called him to come get me out of the bin. I took these to a homeless shelter nearby. This facility is run by a church and I thought they might be useful. The pastor was delighted to have them. I don’t understand how people can trash so much new and valuable stuff. Now this place runs a thrift store. I have never been there for a few colored reasons I won’t mention. I ended up with a 16 piece of Spode Christmas dishes. $12.99 . They were on a very tall shelf packed behind a bunch of other junk. I almost cried. My son was able to purchase a car from the parents of his best friend. They only accepted a $1000.00 for it. I tried hard to get them to take market value but they refused. It’s a hybrid and has a new battery. It literally uses like no gas. I’m so envious. The good part is he is no longer using my car so my tank of gas is lasting much longer. We don’t participate in many activities . While at the grocery store sugar cookie asked for a dollar. I thought maybe she wanted a soda or a stuffed animal from the toy machine. Nope, she bought a scratch off ticket from a lottery vending machine. I had no clue she knew what that was for. She won $30.00 and asked to spend it on Christmas for baby Henrys mom. I was touched by her kindness. She must of heard her mention they only have food at Christmas. I downloaded the Kroger coupons for 50% off candy and other Christmas items. We were able to pick up 3 fragrance giftsets, 3 body wash giftsets and 3 pairs of pajamas for the three teenagers at Henry’s house. I spent a couple dollars out of pocket for candy. Amazon offered 15.00 for downloading a photo app. Also received a 10.00 credit for watching any item on Prime video. I bought Henry a wooden sorter toy. I wanted something small as they simply have no room for anything. It was a lightening deal so it was cheap. I’m going to look for him shoes with the balance. I m amazed that for the most part I’ve spent less than 50.00 out of pocket this year for all my gifts. Using Swagbucks made a huge difference. The money left over from the son’s budgeted car purchase is going back into my long term savings. Sugar cookie will be leaving for her annual Christmas holiday with extended family soon. I decided to purchase a ticket to go see the Nut Cracker in downtown Atlanta. I searched dates and shows for about an hour. They were quite expensive. I finally had a pop-up offering me 40% off my purchase. I was able to get one seat in a great location with that discount. I used a Visa gift card I had purchased with my swagbucks to offset the cost. I’m looking forward to attending the ballet. I used my last 2 free movie tickets to take the kids to the movies. Have a great week dear friends.

      1. The video offer was a random link on my Amazon page. The link for the photo app I followed from a blog I read. I also purchased a 15 pack.if advent socks for 15.00 and will get back 30.00 from top cash back. Listed at swaggrabbers.com. I’ve followed her 10 plus years

  20. Dear Brandy , my baby turns 21 today . You hold and love those babies all you want or need to. We will all be waiting here for you very patiently each week. That season of my life passed by way to quickly . Loving those children is the greatest gift we have.

  21. I miss those baby holding years.
    Hubby and I decided to do a no spending and eat from the pantry challenge this month instead on next month. We did list 10 exceptions. It hasn’t been as tough as either one of us thought it would be. Both of us are now carrying bfast bars in the trucks and car and my purse to have a bite to eat if we are out until we make it home.
    My menu was a bust this past week as Hubby has been gone more meals than home helping neighbors. One took his wife to Mexico for a last resort cancer treatment as nothing state side worked and her doctor’s suggested Mexico so we are helping their kids and siblings and the another ( of same family) has a 4 yr old daughter that has ALS leukemia and is in Children’s for treatment for a solid month, then home a couple weeks and then back for another solid month. So we are helping there also. Our closest friend had eye surgery and then due to his diabetes ended up with 6 nerve palsy and can’t see out of the one eye hardly at all. He is getting treatment but can’t drive and gets motion sickness in a car. Driving his wife nuts so we have been going over to stay with him so she can get out of the house and not worry about him getting hurt.
    I am having trouble finding recipes to used dehydrated potatoes.
    We got half the house decorated. I plan to finish this week.
    Been bouncing through doctor appts and medical testing as my out of pocket is maxed out and I am paying NOTHING
    Enjoy picking up new ideas of being frugal and enjoying life in this blog and all the comments
    Blessed be
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2019/12/dec-1st-of-pantry-challenge-no-spending.html

    1. Boil water in your tea kettle or in a pan and pour it over your potatoes. Once they’re rehydrated, they work well in soups and can also be fried with onions.

  22. We haven’t been able to take a vacation for several years. But we were able to last week. We went to Orlando and had a lovely time. We were able to stay for a reduced rate. Cooked most breakfast and dinners in the kitchenette. We got to go to Epcot and saved money there by not eating in the restaurants. We ate at the booths for lunch and dinner. I was tempted to use a wheelchair because I have just had surgery about 8 or 9 weeks ago. But I walked and was ok. My body was sore for days after. I’m just not used to walking. But we took it slow and sat a lot. Went to the beach,both the Gulf and the Atlantic. I love the Ocean! Saw Bok Tower, a place my grandparents to me to as a child. I really enjoyed being there.
    I want to thank people who have prayed for me. Because everything is so much better now. I’m glad I don’t have cancer and my husbands disability payments came through. So life is getting easier. We have learned to live frugally. We will continue to be frugal so we can save and make other hard times easier than the last few years have been.
    Bought books for 50 cents at library. Cooked at home all day today and will continue to do so. I want to use everything in the freezer and refrigerator before we stock up on much. I will watch sales and buy at the best price to help feed us and save. Turn off lights when not under them. Dress warmly rather than turn up the heat to high. Making soup for tomorrow out of meat and veggies left today.

    1. I was able to visit Bok Tower a few years ago with my parents. It is a lovely place indeed! Glad you had a chance to go back!

      1. Susan, I loved going there. It reminds me of my grandparents. When I was a child they took me there. Also, a cardinal used to land on my grandpa’s shoulder and he would feed it. So cardinals remind me of my grandpa. When we went to Bok Tower, we went in the gift shop. They had lots of cardinal Christmas ornaments. We like to get an ornament every year. I started to tear up when I saw the cardinal ornaments and picked up one. Then the store clerk showed me the 2019 Limited Edition Bok Tower Gardens ornament. I really started tearing up then! It was a Christmas bulb with a cardinal painted on it, and the box said”When a cardinal appears a loved one is near.Cardinals bring good luck, with renewal and faith in all that you do.” So I had to get it! I loved my grandparents very much. They were wonderful!

    2. Tammy, glad you have gotten good news and that your life is now going in a positive direction. I’m sure some time away was good for all!

  23. I had to laugh about the rolled up towels, I thought I was the only one 🙂 Although, I’ve been forgetting, so thank you for the reminder!!

    I got some great deals during Black Friday deals on oldnavy.com for socks for my kids who sorely needed some new socks 🙂

    Been continuing to keep the thermostat low during the day and burning a fire in our fireplace if needed to keep off the heater except at night, been working well and it’s so nice to have a fire burning.

    Working on homemade Christmas gifts for family, we are doing a primarily simple and homemade Christmas this year to save money but it’s kind of nice. I wrote up a list of a bunch of ideas and they are all pretty frugal and money saving.

    55 Simple Homemade Gifts You Can Make in a Hurry

    https://www.makinghomesimple.com/simple-homemade-gifts-you-can-make-in-a-hurry/

    1. Mandy, if you like to knit, check out The Purl Bee blog. They have several free knitting (and sewing) tutorials.

      1. Brandy, Thanks for this suggestion! I actually visited this store when I was in New York in October. Their tutorials look amazing. The shop itself is not huge, but well managed and the clerks were very helpful. I love going to local yarn stores, expensive, yes; but so cool. And, I do like supporting local artisans.

  24. I really enjoyed the daily nature of the Thankfulness posts in November, so I decided to do a daily practice for December, where I do something special for the season each day. It can be a small thing, like listening to Christmas music, sending a card, attending a holiday event, or meeting with a friend. I’ve been writing down my things each day, and I’m really enjoying it.

    I had a day off so I did a big cooking day. I made broth, a big batch of tomato soup, two pounds of mini meatballs, two pans of enchiladas, muffins and cranberry relish. This saves me time later, as I generally make meal components that I can use later.

    On Saturday, I attended a free Christmas festival in our city. The library hosted carolers for an hour, and then there were a bunch of other booths, sights and performers, along with a walk along a river path lighted with luminaria. It was beautiful. On Sunday, my husband and went to a Christmas concert that we both enjoyed. A local ensemble played songs from advent and a few Christmas carols.

    Other frugal accomplishments:
    – Bought some warm boots that were on sale.
    – Used a coupon from our health food coop for B1G1 steak.
    – Purchased underwear at 40% off.
    – Ordered some Christmas soap, but they sent the mini size instead of the normal size I ordered. Contacted the company, and they sent me my correct order, and told me to keep what they’d already sent. I love this soap, so no complaints there!
    – Every year, we order a Lego advent calendar for my nephew. He loves it. This year, one of the pieces was missing, so I requested the missing piece the Lego website. They are sending it to him at no charge.
    – Read several library books.
    – Met a friend who I rarely see for coffee (cheaper than going out to lunch or dinner).

    Otherwise, did the things I normally do. Cooked from the freezer and pantry, used up random bits of food in the fridge, read magazines from work, took my lunch to work, made water kefir, and watched DVDs we already own.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  25. It is so lovely to hear what everyone is up to!
    We drove to a free Christmas concert.
    I bought Target gift card for 10% off. I will use it myself for household goods.
    We received a 10% off coupon from Home Depot and I saved it and used it to buy all the tile for our bathroom renovation. I also thought through all the other bits we need-light fixture, shower head, etc. and bought those too. We saved $80!
    We have eaten Asian pears from a friend since September. We still have a few left and now our neighbor’s persimmons are ripe and we’re eating those. I love free food!
    One of our favorite winter meals is baked potatoes with toppings. That’s what we ate tonight-my husband had cheese and chili on his and I just had cheese. I roasted some veggies while I had the oven on. Then we ate dinner in our tiny kitchen/dining room with the oven door fully open, letting out the lovely heat from the oven (turned off, of course). It makes me appreciate a small home (I don’t always)
    I got a shirt at a thrift store where I too a car FULL of donations. I wore the shirt to church. I also got a Columbia shirt to sell on eBay.
    I have walked to the post office several times in the past week with Christmas gifts or eBay sales to send. I have only used 1/4 tank of gas all week-a record for me!

    1. We had baked potatoes for dinner tonight, too! We have them for dinner at least once a week and for breakfast quite often. We go through around 50 pounds a week some weeks in the winter.

      Good for you on not using much gas!

    2. I just love baked potatoes! Cooked some in my instapot and they were great. While I love a crispy skin I didn’t want to heat up the oven just for baked potatoes. I ate them once a day with various toppings – cheese, butter, herbs, you name it!

    3. I had just placed potatoes in our multicooker for baked potatoes for tonight’s dinner before reading this! Great cool weather meal. Leftovers get made into loaded baked potato soup, home fried potatoes or added to a winter veggie stew. So many possibilities!

  26. I love your decor. It’s timeless! Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were fried eggs with bacon and biscuits, pan-seared flounder with baked potatoes and green beans, chili.
    *We had a potluck meal together to end our fall ladies bible study. I made lemonade, sweet tea and twice-baked potatoes, all with items on-hand. I brought home leftover ham & cheese and chicken salad sandwiches as well as chocolate chip cookies.
    *Accepted cookies at work that an affiliate company brought us as a Christmas gift.
    *Ate sandwiches at my parents’ house one evening as we were working on costumes for a church Christmas play.
    *Met my husband for lunch one day at Arby’s. We knew the cashier and she gave us a coupon to get 2 meals for $7. She also gave us a complete booklet of coupons to use in the future.
    *Used a $5 off $25 coupon and other e-coupons at Dollar General to buy discounted baking goods, paper products and toys for our Angel Tree gifts.
    *Logged into my Amazon account to buy an item on my SIL’s Christmas list. It came to $63 and change. I had $64 in credit on my account!
    *My husband has had a $25 gift card for Bass Pro Shop for a while. He went online and picked out $25 worth of items, but shipping wasn’t free until you hit $50. We added a few of his Christmas items to get to the $50 threshold. This way we achieved free shipping and took a few things off of his list at the same time.

  27. I got my yearly home owners bill. I looked at it closely and noticed that part of it was made up of “optional” charges. One of those charges was $18 for coverage for jewels and furs. My one set of gold earrings sits in my pile of costume jewelry and does anybody own a fur any more? So I called my agent and had that charge removed.

    There was also a “personal injury ” charge in case somebody sued you for slander or libel. I’m very human and not above a bit of slander but pretty much limit it to complaining to my husband. ? I kind of let the agent talk me into keeping that one because I felt a little bad about calling him. This “polite tax” of mine continues to cost me some money, year after year. Trying to get better.

    1. Anne, your insurance agent works for YOU! He is trained to sell, that doesn’t mean you have to buy. Cancel that option if you don’t think you need it; it is YOUR money. If talking to him is difficult, e-mail him and ask him to send back an acknowledgement that this charge, which presumably you did NOT request, has been cancelled. Ask for a new bill from the company and make sure that is what you pay, especially if you have automatic payments set up.

  28. Your Christmas décor is always so beautiful.
    I made four bracelets, using materials I already had, as gifts for friends.
    I stocked up on cheese, flour, sugar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and pork chops on good sales.
    We went to the hot springs with friends for a free soak. The next day we enjoyed a day of free skiing (early season deal for those who had already purchased multi-day tickets.)
    I made a gallon of turkey broth with the carcass from our Thanksgiving turkey.

  29. Brandy,
    Since it is winter here now, I really wanted one of those black puffy vest jackets. They are nice for wearing over a warm sweatshirt or sweater. I was so very happy to purchase one that looks brand new at the thrift store for .99 cents!!
    While I am out shopping or running errands, I would love to purchase a Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate. They are delicious but thus far I have not purchased any and I am proud of myself for that. It is an unnecessary expenditure especially at Christmas time.
    Tomorrow I plan to sew up a huge pile of small rice bags that when kept in the freezer are great when little ones get bumps and bruises. My daughter who is an elementary school teachers will use these as Christmas gifts to her teacher friends. I bought some nice boxes to package them in so they will look good. When I went to the bazaars I noticed they charge quite a lot for these items and I will probably make close to 40 of them for about .20 each. They are a practical gift but my daughter and I are both practical gift givers.
    It is dark grey, rainy and deary here this time of year so I plan to spread some Christmas cheer around my town by taking a plate of goodies to my local police department and to several other workers that don’t often get acknowledged for all they do.
    Wishing all of you a great holiday season.

  30. Not so frugal here —
    My husband will be given a free motorized scooter from the VA to get around out of the house, and with it a free lift to attach to the back of a vehicle. However, the only vehicle we have that will accept the lift is 16 years old, getting cranky, and is very, very high mileage — not a good plan, since whatever vehicle gets the lift will need to do some frequent distance driving. I bit the bullet and bought a used truck, since the lift requires a truck frame. So, the scooter and lift — free. The truck — not. At least I found a nice pickup for a good price and excellent history. I wish I could say I paid cash, but alas, I didn’t have that kind of money set aside, after all the medical expenses we’ve had.
    I’ve been steadily purchasing Christmas gifts and have only a couple left to get. I use sales, Swagbucks gift cards, and rebate cards to reduce my cost. I’ve saved quite a bit of money doing this. Using Swagbucks alone, I saved $125. I had a rebate card for $70 and used it as well. Of course, I started saving up my Swagbucks for Christmas back in August.
    I bought a big chicken from a local farm and will make several meals out of it, then bone broth.
    I requested meal delivery to my husband while I’m at work. If he will eat these, this will cut my grocery bill a good bit, I hope.
    I was gifted a bag of nice tangelos.
    Not frugal for me, but I’m giving a bag of warm outerwear and sweaters to a local mission. It reduces my clutter, at least, and there are certainly other people who can use these items.
    My Christmas card list keeps shrinking, mostly due to losing a number of the older generation this past year, as they are all getting really old (one was 100). I spend less and less each year on postage. The cards themselves were a gift to me from someone divesting herself of a large stash, so no cost there.
    Best wishes to you all this busy month!

  31. Thanks for the good wishes, everybody. Mable, I, too, tend to wallw around like an old sow, but this time I really tried to make myself tie up some loose ends, and I find (when it goes well) that it makes me feel better.

  32. My babies are all grown up but I remember the days of having to hold them. Of course now I miss it. I love all of your pictures.
    I shopped at Aldi and got spiral ham for 85 cents per pound. Sale started today (Dec. 11) also got gluten free bread for most reasonable price around.
    Made an advent wreath from what we used last year plus a few added things like pine cones from the yard and bits and bobs of things I have on hand.
    Cooked almost all meals at home. Went to a holiday party that included a free late lunch so we counted it as dinner too:)
    Will not buy any new clothes for holiday party I am attending. I will dress up a red jacket with a Christmas tree pin that is gold with lots of colored stones and wear it with velvet pants, black shell, and a necklace.
    Decorated the house with everything we already have. My son got a free poinsettia from his work and my husband should get a free poinsettia from his work party tonight. The house looks so festive and no OOP money for decorations.
    Have a blessed week!

  33. It seems in recent weeks I have gotten a bit slack on frugality. We have paid off a couple of bills and instead of putting that money aside, we started going out to eat more, making frivolous purchases, etc. Although I got some excellent deals on Black Friday, and most of the purchases were needed items, we splurged and went out to eat after our shopping and spent 100 on one meal! I almost cried because that will feed our family of six for a week. After reading everyone’s accomplishments, I am outright ashamed of myself and I have got to get it together. I ran in the dollar store to grab a magic eraser to get some scuff marks off the wall and found the cutest coffee mugs for the holidays and they were only two dollars… so I grabbed them, got in line, and then had a stern talk with myself. I got out of line, put everything back, and went home. The scuff marks came off with a little elbow grease, and my coffee tasted just fine in my coffee cup I use everyday.

    1. Myra,
      I hope you remember the great company and conversations you had at that dinner.
      Besides, you quickly remembered what that money can do to ward off any future temptations. ❤️

  34. It has been a busy week getting ready for my daughter and family coming for their 10 week visit from South America. I put out the word at church for borrowing clothing for six of them and have just about everything needed. I am so thankful for all of this clothing, hats, gloves ,coats, church clothes, such a blessing.

    I found ten packs of turkey meat, GF for two dollars a pound. It will come in handy at our numerous Christmas , birthday and baptismal gathering while they are here. There was also organic apples, grapefruit and other fruit to stock up on. I have been using up all leftovers, so zero food waste.

    I shopped at GW and found several more gifts for the grandkids. I am making sugar scrubs for face and feet, salves and cream for all the daughters, DIL’s and son’s girlfriends. I am using a variety of baby jars, jelly jars, etc and have nice bags to package them!

    Praying you all have a lovely week!

  35. Brandy, I’m not sure if you know this or not, but your eldest daughter can get a free 6-month trial to Amazon Prime with her college email address (an edu address). My daughter is the same age as yours and is doing dual enrollment in high school. She has the edu address and was able to subscribe. We’ve been getting it for free since August. After 6 months, it’s half-price or you can cancel.

    1. Hi Michele! She signed up for this when she started school eight months ago.

      My son is taking online college classes (just finishing his first semester). He did a search for places that give something out to students with a school email and found a bunch of freebies and discounts.

  36. Although I read Brandy’s posts every week, I rarely post. But I just re-read a lovely book for the Christmas season and wanted to share. My daughter gave me a book by Jennifer Chiaverini years ago (used of course!) who wrote a series on the Elm Creek Quilters. Ms. Chiaverini has gone on to write some historical novels which are excellent, but the one appropriate for the season is “Christmas Bells.” I have a used copy but am sure there are copies available at some libraries. Merry Christmas to all!

  37. Hello all!

    Brandy, its good to hear how a super busy mom chooses to push lower priorities to make time for your biggest priority!!! And I am grinned when you woke your husband up to take his watch!! Thank you, that made my day brighter.

    For those of us who are finding the holidays difficult, I empathize and sympathize. The best advice given to me when my late husband died ( which I really only “get” 9 years later), was to “Be gentle with yourself”. I do better today with knowing when I need to shorten my list, take more time to pray or just sometimes, welcome the tears. Holidays can be difficult days.

    Frugal ways have made a measureable difference this holiday season. Typically, we try to keep a “gift closet” but during a small remodel when a room needed to be emptied, boxes were not labeled well and “lost” until this past October. Luckily, the found items are good matches for a sister in law, a new teaching aide and we even found brand new toy cars for the “Fill the Firetruck” the firehouse my husband belongs is does for needy children. It’s interesting to note my perspective and actual relief that so many holiday tasks are completed. Not only is it so less stressful to fight crowds searching and/or spend more than budgeted because we couldn’t find the right gift.

    We have to be very cautious with baked goods and sweets so we have a few selected favorites. My husband is diabetic and I need to be careful too so when I made an Angel Foodcake with pumpkin that was moist, full of flavor and really satisfying, we cheered. ( Boxed Angel Food — add water only with a can of 13oz pumpkin. I used loaf pans because my angel food pan and bundt pans were not 9″ wide across. ( Who knew there were so many sizes??)

    Also, I made variation of a recipe called Cranberry Smash that I might have mentioned before but is so good I have to talk about it again. Recipe calls for a bag of fresh cranberries (12 oz), a can of crushed pineapple in its own juice ( not syrup!) and a small box of any red gelatin mix of your taste. ( I use sugar free). Put the cranberries and all the pineapple withsauce pan. Add one cup of water. Heat the mixture until the cranberries pop. Then mix the dry gelatin into the sauce. Chill. The sauce will not firm up as gelatin does but will firm slightly. We discovered the sauce is absolutely fabulous on pancakes or waffles ( and don’t forget whipped cream!), mixed into yogurt or any other way you like cranberries.

    My hairdresser loves cranberries too so I will bring her some of the Cranberry Smash when I see her this coming Thursday.

    Decorations and tree are all in good shape but somehow, two strings of lights are missing so we had to do a quick dash to replace them and paid full price.

    I’ve been doing family genealogy for many years and was very excited to find newspapers finally online for an area in Iowa a 3x great Aunt lived and died and found out some details about the last years of life I was unaware. Definitely saved a trip there asking info or to have someone else locally research for me.

    Another exterior door has been replaced and right in the nick of time as less than 24 hours after it was installed, weather turned very windy and cold. This door has a full piece of glass and is much prettier and lets in much more light. Dog is pleased he can sit comfortably and still have a full view outside. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that this door was found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore Store. It’s an older, classic style and really fits in well with the style of the house and the other exterior door too. Although we had to paint and add handles and a dead lock, the Restore door was $35 and with everything, still only a quarter of the brand new door cost.

    We’re looking forward to see how the replacement doors affect the heating bill.

    Thanks for all your work and effort with this page Brandy and thank you all for sharing your successes and hints!

  38. Just a quick update. Went to SLC for tests and did have to stay in a hotel. I was given a reduced rate through the American Cancer Society. There will be a month of radiation. After searching around, I found a place I can do this that is just over am hour away. Yes, I’ll have to drive everyday, but I’ll be able to stay at home.

    Our son is coming back home and will be taking online classes. A much less costly option. And, he’ll be able to work at the same time. I’ll be happy to have him.

    Trimmed husband’s hair. Found a sale on cooked whole chickens and bought two for less than buying them raw. We will have several meals from them. I’m getting my Christmas cards out finally. I just bought some very inexpensively this year. I’ve a number of people who have been so supportive that I wish to send cards to this year in addition to my regular list.

    1. Trish, so glad you will be able to stay home while you have radiation treatments.
      Wishing you and yours a Lovely Christmas. Much grace always.
      Patricia/Fl

    2. Just a note regarding your radiation treatments. while everyone reacts differently, I became exhausted after mine. I had a total of 31 treatments and was fine for the first two weeks. But one day, when I woke up with my head on my desk at work after returning from my treatment, I decided I had to go home after the treatment and not try to return to work. Just a warning that being able to drive for an hour after you have had your treatment may become kind of rough. Might want to see if someone could go with you to drive you back. I found that the tiredness was cumulative. Got worse after each visit. Good luck, I know things have changed in 9 years. But really listen to your body as well as the side effects of radiation that the doctors describe. Knowledge is power.

  39. I stayed home and spent nothing. Car was not out of the garage as I can walk the half block to church. No shopping online either so zero spending other than mailing regular bills. Christmas shopping is already complete — 100% gift cards — so much less stress and hassle.

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