December Roses 2 The Prudent Homemaker

My husband gave one of our sons a haircut.

I watched several YouTube tutorials to learn how to do several things I needed to do this week. I then followed through and did those things.

I made a doube batch of laundry soap.

My youngest had recently broken favorite mixing bowl. I love a ceramic bowl and I like a large one. I had two in this size (one was a wedding gift for which I had registered) and the other had recently been broken as well. I used these bowls every day. I had tried using my other bowls, but they were too small. I looked at stores with my daughter last week and looked all over online. Most places are now making metal mixing bowls, and very few people had a ceramic option (and none that I liked). I went to HomeGoods and found the perfect bowl for $10, which was much, much less than the ones I had seen online. Plus, I just needed the one size and not a set, as my smaller mixing bowls are just fine.

While there, I found some other things that I had been needing for our home. I’ve been mending my bath mats for many, many years; I found something gorgeous there that is perfect. I also found a needed blanket for a child’s bed (he’s been using large baby blankets, but needs something that can tuck in), and I found Christmas gifts for five children.

I wrapped the gifts I purchased and the gifts that my brother purchased for my children using a roll of paper I bought earlier this year from Sam’s Club. It was a giant roll for $6. I wrapped other gifts that weren’t already in a box using the reusable gift boxes that I purchased a couple of years ago from Target and closed them with ribbon and jingle bells that I used last year.

We used the family passes we were gifted last Christmas by my parents to visit a local museum. We confirmed while we were there that the outdoor section is free to visit; one simply has to get their hands stamped at the entrance. Our family passes expired this week and we have planned to go back to see the outdoor area that is free.

We attended a Christmas party at church. They had a ton of leftovers and offered them to anyone who wanted them. We took home fried chicken, fries, and cookies.

I harvested lemons, basil, and pomegranates from the garden.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. This has been a busy week! Our youngest son who lives with us was in his first car accident (He rear-ended a car ) and since his car was a 2002, he carried insurance to cover the other person’s damages but not the damage to his car. The repairs were higher than the value of his car so he sold his car to a junk yard for $200 and we sold him our 2005 Buick that he had learned to drive in 4 years ago! That way, he is getting a car that we know the history on and we can take payments from him rather than getting a bank loan.
    That meant we needed to find a reliable used car to replace it. We always look for a private owner, rather than a dealer and have a set of questions that help us find the most reliable/best valued car while keeping under $3K-4K. We found within 24 hours a 2004 Buick (2nd owner because original owner passed away) with only 104K miles on it. It was pristine and priced at under $2400! (One of our criteria besides long time owner is to find a car that is located an hour or so out from our capital city even though that was the Craigslist it was advertised in. Most people don’t want to bother looking “out of town” for a privately owned used car!) We are pleased! It drives like a dream and we will drive it for another 150K or more miles!! The only thing we want in a car is dependable and reliable! And this checks off that box and many more! Took money out of our savings account that was there just for this kind of purpose, so no loan!
    The electric company came out and took away our old refrigerator that we just replaced and gave us $50 for it, so that was a nice thing! We love the new fridge and some of the features are really helping us organize our leftovers and grab and go foods so much more, so nothing is getting “lost” in fridge! That is a savings in itself! Home Depot gave us 24 month zero-interest payment on our HD card. We could have paid for it outright but this way, we will keep that amount in savings earning interest while we pay it off out of our regular monthly budget! Ironically, it cost more than our car that we just bought. We did get the 5 year warranty that will fix or replace anything free during the warranty. We felt like that was a wise idea!
    Business at has been brisk. Hollow Stars table runners sales have more than paid for the pattern and special ruler needed! 3 more were just finished this morning and being picked up! A customer from last year called this past week and asked if I had some Soup Cozies for sale. She came over and 9 sets went home with her! Then my customer picked up her 2 quilts - and and 2 of the table runners and paid me! She loved them so much that she added an extra $100! An order came in for flannel softies this morning so I boxed those up and they are on their way to the West Coast So, it has been keeping my machines, and me, busy! And I’m grateful! I finished the quilting and binding on the comfort quilt a friend sent over as my contribution to it-

    I got another 40 pound box of bananas on Friday for $5 so I split it with my daughter as well as another 36 pound box of Honeycrisp apples for $20 (55 cents/pound) which my daughter also shared.

    Prego spaghetti sauce was on sale for 89 cents/jar so I bought 24 jars and restocked my pantry shelves. We’re good through the winter (and beyond) with our inventory now! I found Smuckers orange marmalade on sale for $1.50 so I bought 6 jars for my IP orange chicken recipe!

    Our electric bill was still under my budgeted $150/month this month ($140.35) and our gas bill is still running a credit from our monthly level pay of $96. So, we are cautiously optimistic!

    Just saw that our 3 month Treasury bill has already made $9 in the two months since we took it out, so we anticipate when it matures in 30 days, it will be $13.50 that we earned in interest! This is compared to the same amount that we keep in our plain passbook savings account that will have earned 30 cents during that same 3 month period!! That’s crazy!! We are not at a stage in our lives to invest in anything risky, but we are excited to see this Government Treasury bill could give us so much more interest! That means that, over a year’s time, we will get $54 in interest compared to $1.20!!!

    It looks like our health insurance premiums will remain about the same and we certainly are grateful for that blessing and realize that others are not so fortunate!

    There is snow on the ground with more scheduled to arrive this afternoon. So it’s a good time to stay inside as the snow starts up again! I’ve got pie crust thawing and turkey chunks from fridge that were leftover after I made turkey pot pie a few days ago so, by request of husband and son, I’ll be making another turkey pot pie tonight! Good hearty, cold weather food!!

      1. Denise- I go to SanFilippos near the airport on East Fifth Avenue. They are a wholesale produce market but they also do cash and carry to the public Tuesday through Friday. Often the things I get there at the best prices are things that will need to be eaten or processed soon. We eat a lot of it fresh but also can, freeze and dehydrate a lot of it! When I get things there, I often change my plans for the day or the next to make sure nothing gets wasted!

      1. Jen- I’d be happy to! We typically look on Craigslist and filter it to “owner” rather than “Dealer”. So our questions are:

        1. When we first call, we ask if their “vehicular” is still for sale and can they tell us about it. If they say “ which vehicle?” , we say , never mind because they are selling cars as a business.

        2. We ask how long they’ve owned car. Less than a year- Never mind.

        3. Smokers or pets? No, thank you.

        4. Miles on odometer? Really high miles for age of car? No, thank you.

        5. Titled and currently registered in their name? If not, no thank you.

        6. Repairs/maintainance? Recent? What kind?
        7. We check Kelley Blue Book value to make sure it’s price is appropriate.

        What we look for is: older car that is original owner or has been owned by current person for years. We live in Columbus, Ohio which is the state capital and also really large and so we look for listings that are from smaller towns that may be an hour away because typically, people don’t want to drive “ all that way into the middle of nowhere” for a used car! Often, those cars may have been listed for a couple of weeks because of that and so sellers are motivated to lower the price! We always check Edmunds and other free sites online to review a particular make/model and specific year to look for any common problems/complaints. We check the most recent customer reviews first because the cars we look at are older!
        We talk to the seller! Ohio is a friendly state and you can find out why someone is selling a car just by talking. Did they get a new car after owning and loving the car for sale for years? Selling because they are in dire circumstances and need money fast? Probably pass on that.
        The van we bought 4 years ago was a 2003 that had the fold down seats. We use it primarily to carry stuff home because I’m too cheap to get a truck and this still gives us options to have other people riding along in the back. It was being sold by “Grandpa”- the original owner, who when his daughter needed a car and he was ready to upgrade, gave it to her. She drove it for about 3 years and gave it to her son in college. He drove it for 3 years and bought a smaller car and gave it back to Grandpa! (Btw- there is a free online site – not Carfax- that you can check VIN number information!) Grandpa didn’t need the van and so decided to sell it. He lived 48 miles away from our house. He had a good price to start, but no one wanted to go out that far. It had been for sale for $1700 originally in the ad but he had reduced it to $1200 by the time we saw it. He had his maintenance records, new tires, repairs had been made appropriately and the only downside was that the a/c didn’t work. We saw it, test drove it and offered him $1000 cash and he took it. That’s the seller we are looking for- someone who just doesn’t need the car any more!

        This week’s car was a lot the same. Small town- Anna, Ohio. Seller was on a farm. Next door neighbor was original owner . She died. Her adult kids didn’t need it so they offered it to our seller (their neighbor for 36 years) because he had just bought an SUV and his wife wanted something smaller for her shopping trips/driving. He bought it and his wife had a stroke 3 weeks later. Shortly ,she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she can drive or even be left at home alone. The car had been sitting in his garage for almost a year. He had put a brand new battery in and had outfitted it with brand new tires when he bought it in February. It broke our – “owned less than a year?” Rule, but by talking to the seller, verifying through the VIN site and seeing the “For sale by owner” sign outside their pristinely maintained home, we KNEW our seller! His price was in line with Blue Book. It’s a 2004 but only has 106K miles on it. It is immaculate and we were able to look at it up on high at a mechanic’s shop before we bought it. In this case, he was asking $2350 for it and even though it had been for sale for 3 weeks, we did not try to lower the sales price. We felt sad that they are going through this hard challenge in their lives and grateful for our blessing of good health!
        So, that’s basically it! Our local mechanic has looked at cars for us at no charge and often we will do that as well.
        Hope this helps.

  2. I read new comments Monday and I was surprised that more of you had commented on my ongoing battle with depression. Thank you for your concern and good wishes. I have good news to share today.
    I had bottomed out last Monday when I commented. I have had severe depression for much of my adult life, and only those who are also depressed understand how debilitating it is, often even with meds. Big surprise, when I woke Tuesday, I felt 100% better, and it has continued to this day. The only thing I can tell you is this is a God thing. A lot of prayer went up! And there is no other explanation. I don’t know how much longer it is going to last (I’m hoping forever!) but I am taking it one day at a time for now and loving life this week! 
    Three days after I wrote, I came down with a cold. Now those of you with depression know just how bad you can feel when you have a cold on top of the depression. Well, guess what…the good days held. This is absolutely a Christmas miracle. I was able to function “more normal than normal,” and these were my frugal accomplishments–
    (1) It was a good week for meat purchases. I bought a pork shoulder roast (Boston butt) for .99 lb., boneless pork loin for $1.47 lb., and 80% ground beef for $2.49. That’s my go-to price for ground beef, if I’m all out…otherwise, I want to buy it for $1.99, and then I’ll buy a lot. I bought 4-1/2 lbs. and broke it down into one pound and 1/2 lb. packages, which I wrapped in cut-up cereal bags. I wanted the Boston butt cut in half because there are only 2-3 of us, but Winco does not have a meat saw! Well, I do! I used my dad’s old meat saw to saw through the bone. I wrapped it in freezer paper I’ve had for about 25 years (not much left). Finally, I had the meat man at Fred Meyer slice the pork loin into chops of the thickness I like. (I’ve never been charged for extra services at the meat counter). I froze the chops individually on a cookie sheet and transferred them to a plastic bag after they were frozen. About 6 months ago, I decided that I was going to look for more ways to reuse, when possible, rather than recycle. The inside of my freezer looks like a recycling bin! And the price is right, too.
    (2) I am planning to paint my childhood chest of drawers this week. We got it washed with Murphy’s Oil Soap (I picked up a whole gallon of it at the recycling center for free). I am painting it with leftover paint and filling the handle holes with wood filler that I also already have. My only costs are .29 to repair a hinge and new drawer handles (the originals are ug-lee, plus some are missing). This was cheap bedroom furniture from the 1950s, but cheap furniture then was solid maple!
    (3) I finished sewing my daughter-in-law’s pajama pants. I had to buy thread. It was black, so I bought the biggest spool JoAnn sells with a 40% off coupon.
    (4) I am about half-done with wrapping presents. I have all the supplies I need, all bought in previous years at a deep discount. I will admit that about 10 years ago I stopped saving wrapping paper to reuse. Life’s too short to iron tissue and gift wrap!
    (5) I didn’t leave the house for 3 days, so I’m sure I saved plenty there!

    1. Maxine so very glad you are feeling better and also got so much accomplished 🙂 . The meat prices you got are wonderful and we can only dream of such low meat prices here in Australia.

      I hope your as we call them “good days” continue for some time to come 🙂 .

      We know what you are talking about with depression as DH has both PTSD from his military service and depression so some days are not so good and others great. Since he has undergone both psychologist and psychiatrist therapies and learnt more coping skills and techniques the down days are thankfully better for him.

      Have a wonderful week ahead :).


    2. I have a very close relative who has severe depression. Prayers and virtual hugs from afar for you, and I wish you continued good health.

  3. I’m so glad you were able to take home leftovers from the party — I love it when food doesn’t go wasted. And your visit to HomeGoods sounds very productive.
    I made candied nuts to give to neighbors – the pecans were some my husband picked up at a highway rest stop and brought home and shelled.
    I started a batch of sweet-hot pickles to give as gifts also.
    I also made whole wheat sandwich bread, French bread, and yogurt.
    The lights on our new tree stopped working. My husband was able to fix the problem – he had to replace the cord.
    I wrapped all my gifts in brown paper I saved from shipping, and ribbons purchased on sale.
    My dog needed a new bed, so I made one using pieces of an old foam mattress topper I had saved.
    I bought my husband three flannel shirts for $1 each at the thrift store. I also found new underwear and bras for me on sale online. We should both be in good shape for clothing for the coming year.

      1. Momsav — I usually iron the paper and keep it on a roll and use it all year. It looks quite nice. This morning I used some to wrap some cranberry nut bread to give to some folks at church. I also use it to drain fried potatoes or salmon croquettes instead of using paper towels.

  4. My mom sent over 2 1/2 gallons of milk(we had already purchased some, so I put these in the freezer). She also sent over a bunch of sprite in cans she didn’t want.

    My dryer outlet and cord were bad so hubby replaced them for a fraction of the cost of a repairman.

    I purchased the 12yo a 6 pack of low cut socks for under $5 on Amazon(would have been way more in Walmart)

    We had an almost free day of Christmas activities Saturday. We had Christmas caroling first with our girl scout service unit at the long term care facility my dad and stepmom are in(saved gas on a visit). Then we attended our city’s Christmas parade. The 12yo and her friend got quite a bit of candy and free baseball hats from our minor league team. I also got coupons to Cicis pizza where we are having our girl scout Christmas get together next weekend. Then our Japanese stroll garden was decked out in Christmas lights so I took them after dark. I only had to pay $5 for my admission, the kids were free.

    I cashed in my change jar. I had $149! This will finish up Christmas shopping ($35 was spent on 7 $5 gift cards for my daughters teachers)

    I needed more Christmas cards and instead of buying more, I got what I needed out of my moms stash.

  5. I used a $20 off coupon from to order prescription cat kibble, treats, and cat litter. I placed a huge order last summer so they sent me the coupon to entice me back. We are now good to go through mid-April.

    I bought 4 dining room chairs at 20% off and a bench at 50% off from the Amish furniture store. They are made in the USA using North American wood so I was willing to pay a premium but with the sale, the prices were comparable to other stores. I cannot afford a table to match at this time so I bought the same stain to refinish an unfinished oak table that I already own. If it doesn’t match or match “enough”, I will buy a table at a later date.

    The Social Security office called to confirm my enrollment and gave me the option of starting payments in January or February. The difference is $14 a month and it will take over 15 years to make up the difference so I took the January payment start date and will put that check-in savings.

    Otherwise, I did not do anything special – grocery shopped using a list, combined errands kept the thermostat lower at night and opened windows on the warmer days. I have 6 weeks to retirement and can NOT wait!

    1. We are in the middle of a very white Christmas season. Another 7 to 10 inches of snow headed our way in northwestern PA with possible high wind gusts. It is so beautiful but am so grateful my Christmas shopping is done and I don’t have to stress over trying to finish and go out on these very slippery roads to shop. I was so delighted when I opened the tote that has my Christmas tree ornaments in to see that I had bought gift card holders and gift tags on a steep clearance last year. I had ran out of tags so it was so awesome to find them. I also ran out of Christmas cards so I used some of the cards leftover from previous years! No one will remember the cards right!!!! We have 2 precious granddaughters. I took pictures myself and ordered prints ahead of time paying .09 a card instead of .28. I am blessed that my husband took the week of Christmas off enabling me to travel to see my sister and her family. He is a ready and willing helper with a calm personality for which I am so very grateful. I am excited to share some of my yummy canned and frozen veggies, fruit, and pickles for holiday meals. Two church family members shared their garden with me so I have potatoes and carrots dug fresh out of the garden. I gifted 2 of my dear friends with “time” . Two hours of help so they could take that time I saved them to relax for a bit during this very busy season. I strive to give my family and myself a gift of simplifying Christmas so as to have a sweet spirit. The gift to me is not having to regret harsh words and actions. It takes some very strong discipline on my part but over the years I have found ways to enjoy the celebration of our Savior’s birth rather that just survive all the traditions that seem a “must” to accomplish. Have a very blessed Christmas! Thank you Brady and everyone with your comments that are so very helpful and encouraging.

    2. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement Mari. I took voluntary redundancy/ early retirement 14 months ago and after the initial shock to the system of a drop in income I am so happy. Time is so precious and I appreciate having time to do what I want and I am managing OK with reduced income. I’m sure you’ll love it – I feel privileged not to have to go to work every day and to be a homemaker. Good luck!

  6. I work at our church and always welcome leftovers from events. We order our coffee from Starbucks every Sunday. My husband brings home the leftover coffee and we have iced Starbucks coffee. We had a funeral at this church and I brought home two large flower arrangements that the family did not want. Fresh flowers all throughout my house this week!

  7. I don’t know if the roses are current blooms, but they are beautiful. There are bowls that I love to use too, certain ones that are perfect for specific things. A large ceramic bowl for $10 sounds like a fantastic deal. We were out of the country most of last week, so there’s not too much to report. We did take advantage of the elaborate breakfast that came with our room each day. I bought several family members small wooden ornaments in Germany, which were inexpensive and easy to fit in our luggage. I harvested collards since we’ve been home, and also used our tomatoes and herbs in meals.

  8. The holiday season is fast on my heels and I’m just not prepared. Sugar cookie is leaving soon for her annual Christmas journey and I anticipate her needing something purchased . I imagine a thrift store visit will be needed. I have carefully checked my prescription’s and taken inventory of my refill dates. I discovered if I had them renewed and refilled on Christmas , I would be able to get them filled before my insurance runs out on the 31st. I visited my local nurse practitioner who promptly wrote my 90 day refills on each item no matter which specialist prescribed them. The most expensive I don’t use often. The really cheap ones are easily obtained. I saved thousands by getting this done. I also am going to squeeze in two more specialists to maximize these benefits. My weekly visit to the dump left me with no treasure. But , my visit to the thrift store had me dancing with joy. I picked up 7 Dept. 56 houses marked at $5.05 a piece. They are from the series ” Christmas in the city ” . I quickly paid for them and sent a list of the pieces to a friend. He said they are all retired and average $100.00 to $250.00 . I’m going to give them to him to sell. We don’t need anything so he can just have them. I’ve known him for 40 years and he is the kindest most generous person I know. I purchased myself a few items , 2 new releases from 2 of my favorite authors . 2 new puzzles , 3 Audible books. 5 magazine subscriptions and a 90 day subscription to Starz streaming. Total out of pocket was about $15.00 . I love little treats to enjoy while sugar cookie is away. Looks like I’m going to have to give in and make a repair to my refrigerator. Based on repair amount we may buy a new one. I hope everyone is having a great week.

  9. How long should a Christmas stocking last?

    My son’s is worn out. This would have been only the 41st Christmas for my son’s stocking, LOL. It was one of those fuzzy red stockings with white band at the top and the letters of his name ironed on the white. (Bought it at a booth in the mall). The red is starting to shred horizonally wherever pressure or weight of any kind is applied. Since my daughter’s is on its 43rd year, I’m assuming it’s in the same condition. Well, you can’t say I didn’t get my money’s worth.

    I’ve patched up my son’s stocking and hope it will last through Christmas. I can’t decide whether to make them new stockings or ask them to give me one of their choosing. We now fill a stocking for our daughter-in-law, too. They really enjoy them…and since we don’t have/won’t have grandchildren, we enjoy them, too.

    1. Maxine , I love that your stockings are such a sentimental item. In all frugalness , what do you think you paid for those stockings so many years ago ?

      1. One of our elderly stocking – red push with a white faux fur cuff- was looking a bit shabby. I combed the faux fur with an ordinary comb and it is so improved!! – Maybe it will be good for another 20 years or so!

      2. Maybe 4 bucks apiece, including putting their names on the cuff! Speaking of sentimental, when my son and daughter-in-law got married two years ago and I needed to get a stocking for her (found similar!) my son said he wanted to keep his old one!

  10. My mom had given me money for My Christmas present. I bought a new air fryer. It was the power air fryer pro that has shelves. Our toaster needed to be replaced, so we can put bread on the shelf and make toast. It was the black Friday doorbuster that I ordered on Thanksgiving, saved almost $100. I also received $15 in Kohls cash. I was trying to figure outwhat to spend it on, and finally just got the silicone egg mold the instant pot. Cost me $.91 for tax. The egg mold is awesome. I made the egg thingies one night and dh didnt know he was eating cut up okra, brocolli and riced squash, amongst the other things he did know was in there. This makes breakfast for dinner even easier. We mostly ate out of the pantry. i did need to buy celery and carrots and a bag of bean mix. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Target had a clearance price on turkeys and another deal with cartwheel. i bought 4 turkeys and 4 turkey breast for $45. i used a $50 target gift card that I had gotten from swagbucks. I had also discovered a deal at Walmart for spiral ham $.98lb. I bought a lot of them. Last week I got $65 worth of hams in one shot. The freezer is stocked up. We’ve been eating either that as part of the meal or in soup. Some of my soups made way too much. Now that Im delivering for Shipt, I dont/wont make a special trip if we really need something. When I get a shop, Iwill just leave early and grab whatever I need before I shop for my customer. Oh,I was thinking I didnt do much to save money. I just dont give myself any credit, here is a big one. Almost every week in November, office depot had a deal for double rewards when you recycle ink cartridges. So, I did. I got $40 in rewards every time I redeemed 10. I had bought a box of empties on ebay for like 15 cents a cartridge. My theory was that if it works, i an just use the rewards for k cups (a treat for me) or toilet paper. On black friday they had a deal for a chromebook. i forget how much it was, but the rewards covered it all plus a 2 year square trade plan. I ordered it online and picked it up in the store an hour later. This will be a gift for my daughter who only does youtube, so she doesn’t need all the computer stuff.

  11. I spend Christmas in Kaktovik, on a barrier island famous for nanooks or polar bears. There will probably be just the hotel owner, Ravn agent, and me in the hotel assuming we actually fly from Fairbanks. We will have a meal at home for Christmas when I return and will probably go to our other son’s house for something. My husband, a pastor, is taking the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, so we will visit a church from our own denomination.
    Christmas Eve is a big event in the village. I usually read the Christmas story, we sing carols, and I give a devotion. Then the excitement happens! Santa comes and delivers gifts to all the children under 18 as well as the elders. Some families also bring gifts. It is fun to see the children’s excitement. Christmas Day there is a feast with food being passed around until it is gone. People bring containers and coolers to bring food home as well as what they eat. portions of whale meat are passed around also. Sometimes, I also give a devotion here. Last year a blizzard was coming in so I did not give a message to allow everyone to get safely home.
    If possible, I fly home the day after Christmas. People in the village practice Eskimo games during this time, which would be interesting to see some year.
    Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas! Thank you for your sharing throughout the year and special thanks to Brandy for keeping this blog going. Already this week, I learned something new. You all help us to continue to live frugally!

  12. I did not feel well this week so never left the house for five days running, which is a savings in gas if nothing else. And the money we saved on food this week was because of various gifts, one of them accidental. A huge box from Swiss Colony showed up on our porch with the right address but the wrong name. I called the company and it turned out to have been a typo that inverted the house figures, so right name but wrong address. I asked them for the correct house number so I could deliver the package and was told that they could not give out confidential information so I was to keep the box for myself and Merry Christmas! I looked it up and this is a $129 gift box of meat, cheese, jams and a few sweets. There were only two things we did not care for and the dog will be enjoying them. Then, two days later, I got a case of toilet paper (the usual gift from my brother) plus a box from Omaha Meats from my sister, and then my husband got a turkey from a corporate client he did some free lance work for this year (it was only two weeks of consulting, so I am amazed they remembered him!) Honestly, it is raining free food here! I fell like blessing are everywhere I look. Because of the thoughtfulness of others, I have been able to divert my usual grocery budget into filling the cupboards and freezer for the next six months. Sugar, flour, spices, beans…the best buy was butter at $2 a pound, which is unheard of here. Years ago yes, but more recently a sale means the butter has gone form 3.99 to 3.50 for a week. Anyway, the husband went out and got 40 pounds of butter, which is more than we would use in a year. So, I kept 30 pounds and turned 10 pounds into our Christmas gift for a friend who is retired and on a very limited income but loves to bake. The rest of the week’s savings were on the usual things like giving each other hair cuts, and stretching a one pound piece of beef into a soup that fed two of us for two days, plus one lunch. I did spend on something my husband usually does: we had snow and then the temperatures fell to 30 below zero at our house. My husband is older than I and I refused to let a 71 year old man clear the drive way. He kept saying that we have a snow blower so it is not like he is shoveling it, but he finally relented telling me later that he thought I was about to cry. Actually, I was—I have a very vivid imagination and all I could think was that I was going to find him in a frozen, dead lump on the ground. It was $75 but worth it to me. Snow removal is hard, but at 30 below zero you can sear your lungs without realizing it, and I hate to think of the load on one’s heart. I know it is very hard for my husband, who was such a vigorous, hard working guy in his youth who would fix anything, build anything and work untold hours at home after all day at an office job, to face the fact that he is now old. Anyone who has experience keeping an elderly horse in the barn and off the racetrack, please leave suggestions how to curb his determination to act 35. I fear I am turning into a nag on this topic.

    1. Mable, I just wanted to say that your husband’s overall health condition is more important than his actual age. I don’t know his condition and of course, am not trying to criticize or offend, at all. If his health is poor, it is certainly understandable that you are trying to protect him. Unfortunately, well-meaning loved ones can actually turn active seniors into elderly by refusing to allow them to do the very things that would keep them physically and mentally in good health. Not saying you are doing this. Just wanted to help others be aware of this. For many seniors, 71 is still a season of full activity.

  13. -My cousin, who is a lawyer in the province where my late sister resided, asked an estate lawyer in his firm to answer some questions I had. She has put my mind at rest about some concerns, and suggested how to handle inquiries that I can expect down the road.

    -My cousin and I do not know each other well at all, because our fathers had a dispute through most of their adult lives. He and his sister touched base with my sister and me a few years ago, so we would all have contact information in case something happened to our aunt. (She is 90 and still going strong.) My cousin was very helpful when I was trying to understand the legal aspects of getting my sister into long-term care when she developed dementia, and have her capacity assessed so the public trustees could take over her finances when she was incapacitated. It is wonderful to have a family member provide such kind support, since I am usually on my own when handling difficult situations.

    I have put a string of lights around the inside of my living room window, which takes the edge off the long winter nights.

  14. Did not really do much this week. I am kind of tired. but, I guess not doing much is frugal in and of itself.
    Made a big batch of spaghetti sauce last weekend. My DH ate on that most of the week. He could eat spaghetti everyday – he is Italian. I get tired of spaghetti after just one night. I did have it a second time as I was so tired I did not want to cook. I pulled some taco meat out of the freezer and had taco salads. Made quesadilla with some leftover chicken. Made a batch of white chicken chili. that was dinner and lunches for the week.
    We had two stores that had 8 oz. pkgs. of shredded cheese for 99¢ each this week. ended up getting 9 packages.
    Go a pork butt roast for 99¢ a pound. cut the meat off into chunks and put it in the crockpot with seasonings to make chili rubbed pork. We will use this in our posole for Christmas Eve dinner.
    DH made BBQ’d hamburgers. Had them with homemade pickles, homemade relish and a garden onion.
    Did my Mom’s laundry, so she would not have to pay $25 for someone to do it for her. She was also tired this week, and just couldn’t get up the energy to do it herself. She is almost 97 – so allowances must be given.
    Made two kinds of cookies – blondies and Russian teacakes. Used our homegrown walnuts in the Russian teacakes.
    Brought breakfast and lunch to work all week.
    Looking back, I guess I did quite a bit. There is just so much more to do, that I felt that not much was accomplished.
    Best wishes to everyone for a blessed season.

  15. I love ceramic mixing bowls too! My mum had one when I was growing up, and I believe she still does. I associate it with all sorts of good (and delicious) things! Glad you were able to find an inexpensive one.

    My frugal week:
    – I made Christmas pastilles (, using chocolate chips and red and green sprinkles. So easy, and very cute too!
    – I made paranthas (Indian flatbreads – using cooked split peas from my freezer. Using that as a wrap, I added in some leftover creamy slaw from the previous night’s dinner, and fried up a pork kebob from the freezer that I had bought on deep sale many, many months ago, and voila, I was able to serve my husband a gyro for dinner. He actually asked me if I had purchased the gyros, so it definitely passed muster! I used leftover cooked split peas as baby food, and to add to smoothies for protein.
    – I redeemed sb for two $5 gc to Amazon, plus I wrote a book review for, and received a $10 gc to Amazon.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded the above three gift cards (plus another $5 one I had already) for four BNIB toys: a toy cellphone, a toy set of keys, a set of bristle blocks, and a shape-sorting and stacking toy. The first two and the fourth will be gifts for my daughter or I’ll just keep them in my gift drawer, and the third will be a Christmas gift for a friend’s child. I’m essentially getting them for significantly less than half price.
    – I also traded 3 coupons for full-size containers of boccocini (I got them in the mail from the manufacturer after I politely complained about a substandard product), for a BNWT retro-style sweater that I will give to a friend as a Christmas gift.
    – I’m trying not to buy groceries this week, but ran out of non-dairy milk so made some up myself from the last few raw cashews in my pantry.
    – I made a Thai green curry soup, and added in some oven-fried tofu, as it’s a cheap protein. I used heavily discounted limes and coconut milk that I had gotten in a flash food produce box last week.
    – I made a double batch of caramel corn and packaged it up to give to my colleagues as Christmas gifts. Homemade caramel corn tastes amazing and is very inexpensive.
    – I took my daughter to a free holiday party at my local library. There were pictures with Santa, gingerbread man decorating, ornament making, and live jazz. I love the programming at this library branch!
    – I made more caramel corn, and used it as a hostess gift when going to a Christmas carolling party. I’ve always wanted to go carolling – it was very fun!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone!

  16. I ran out of name tags for our Christmas gifts. Rather than purchasing more, I repurposed old Christmas cards using the front portion of the cards. I have been baking Christmas cookies to give to family members. Most are made using simple ingredients that I have on hand. No new decorations purchased this year but I rearranged how I displayed them in our home. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Penny S.

  17. I finished having my doctor appts and testing done no $$ spend since I’ve maxed out my out of pocket on medical.
    We have ate mostly from the pantry. We have had 1/4th of the small end of a butternut got tossed due to being hid behind eggs so when I cleaned the frig it got tossed. Was the only thing that got tossed… GO ME. I’ve done laundry and either dried it on the porch clothes line (had a good day this week) ir the drying rack. I asked Hubby to dig out Daddy’s old walked so I can put it over the laundry room heater vent to dry dish towels. We set the budget for 2020 and picked what big projects we want to complete. We went to a Christmas dinner. I took Pandoro yeast cake, fancy bean snack (not hummus) and cauliflower stuffing (actually dressing as you do not stuff it in anything). Everyone liked it and I only brought about 1/4th of what I took back home. I also was given a ham bone with broth that had enough meat for 2 meals and soup and a roasting pan FULL of diced boiled potatoes that was supposed to be mashed potatoes but didn’t get made. I saved 1/2 gallon for us and passed the rest to our Amish neighbor, family of 10. She gave us 2 meals of salad that was given to her by the neighbor on the other side of her that they brought home from a Christmas dinner.
    Our other neighbor gave us a gift card to the local restuarant we go to as a Christmas gift, We went there after taking our one dog tonight to the vet to spend the night (no food or water allowed and we have 2 other dogs that eat and drink from same dishes) Rascal has tumor in his groin area so he is having surgery first thing in the morning. Due to my Crohn’s my bone density has dropped to 2.6 in the femur neck even though my calcium and Vit D are where they should be. I priced elliptical , large yoga mat and yoga books/dvd and compared to the cheapest gym in the area adding on mileage costs for driving to and from. I have a couple exercise bikes . Buying the other stuff is half of the local gym and driving back and forth 6 days a week.
    Blessed Be everyone.

  18. It has been a busy few weeks with some work deadlines looming. I haven’t been as frugal as I should have been due to the deadlines and being under the weather.
    *I used a work discount to get 50% off a doctors visit and tests.
    *I did some favors for a friend and she took me out to dinner a couple times as a thank you.
    *I’m letting my hair grow so I can cut it in the spring. I’ve chemically processed it too many time to salvage it. I’ve vowed to not color it again until it grows out. It is already short and I cannot go any shorter.
    *I visited a free local museum with a friend.
    *I’m planning a pantry challenge for January. I’ll use up what I’ve got in my pantry before buying more staples.
    *I volunteered to help with a clothing swap. They had too many clothes and needed to sort them into sizes before the swap began. The coordinators let me take as much as I wanted. I got a pair of jeans and a dress that fit perfectly.
    *I want new shoes and need new underwear but I’m waiting till after Christmas to shop the sales.
    *I hung many loads of laundry instead of using the dryer.
    *I’ve cooked at home as much as I can.

  19. Living frugally from Portland, OR:

    I have to admit, the holidays stress me out a bit! I love them but also often can’t wait until they’re over. Being frugal helps me to stay happy and less anxious, as one of the things that stresses me out the most about the holidays is the overconsumption.

    Some frugal things I did this week:

    *Continuing to ride my bike to work (20 miles roundtrip), even in the cold. I set a goal of 3X a week which is manageable, then I try and exceed it, but still feel good about it if I don’t.

    *My neighbor gave me some of her Sunday NYTimes print editions and I used it to wrap Christmas presents. I used thick black and white ribbon and pretty name tags, so I think they turned out nice looking. It has some meaning because my husband was a journalist for the NY Times for several years just after we were married. And I don’t think my kids care about fancy gift wrapping, lol. I will reuse the ribbon next year (and maybe longer).

    *I wasn’t thrilled about buying a fresh wreath after buying a fresh Christmas tree (they’re not so expensive in Oregon, but still…), and I’m pretty sure making one is outside of my crafting wheelhouse, so I gathered some holly and fresh pine clippings from my yard and a Christmas-looking basket from my stash and made a flower arrangement to put next to the front door. It makes me smile every time I come home! The berries from the holly are especially pretty.

    *I made my son some sensory fidgets from items I had around the house for one of his gifts. I know he’ll love it (he has autism). I also made my nephew a LEGO robotics kit from “leftovers” from my old STEM-based education business. Neither gift costed me a penny, just some time.

    *We have a busy week of school holiday performances, etc. so I planned some quick, easy dinners so there would be no temptation to grab takeout. Tonight we had a baked potato bar with canned chili and potatoes that I threw in the crockpot before I left for work this morning. It was really yummy!

    This week I was grocery shopping and I kept running into this mom with her two girls in the store. She was very sweet with them, but I could tell she was exhausted. I ended up in line behind them and knew it was fate. I was at Winco, so she was busy bagging groceries as the checker rang up her bill, and I slid my card over to the checker and asked her to charge the woman’s groceries to my card. She couldn’t do that because I had to enter my PIN, so I went ahead and swiped my card for her groceries – I had hoped to do it anonymously but that wasn’t going to work. The woman came over and said to the checker, “Does she know those are for my groceries?” She had the most perplexed look on her face! I just said, “I got it – Merry Christmas!” She gave me the biggest hug! And then her oldest daughter came and gave me a hug. This was the first time I have ever done anything like that, and it was seriously the best feeling! I think it will be my new annual holiday tradition. And I could only do something like this because we live frugally and below our means.

  20. Our Frugal Accomplishments for the Week:

    * Stopped by Sam’s Club for a few things (black beans, vitamin d supplements, grated Parmesan). Pretty much everything we bought had an instant saving coupon for it, except for the beans.

    * Wrapped up a few gifts using wrapping materials I bought last year on clearance. I have two different Christmases with two sides of my family, and each one has their own version of “the dice game” (which I think is basically a White Elephant game), and I was able to wrap up some items that I had been gifted but wouldn’t use for the corresponding opposite side of the family. (For example, I received wine as a hostess gift but rarely drink, so it got wrapped up for the game). This is a great way to essentially regift useful or cute items that I won’t use.

    * Made black bean burgers for my SO’s lunches this week, using your recipe, Brandy. As usual, they get rave reviews! 😀

    * I used the second half of the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving to make another batch of soup- this time, one with kale, turkey, and gnocchi. between this and last week’s soup, I’ve gotten about 20 servings of soup, with lots of good broth and meat inside, for really the cost of some vegetables and pasta/wild rice.

    * I made several seasoning blends for gifts- a lemon and herb ‘house blend’ (think Mrs Dash), Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, lemon pepper, Cajun seasoning, Steakhouse seasoning, and Southwest seasoning. I was able to use the spices I had on hand to make them (though I will need to replenish my paprika and black peppercorns soon). I live making these as gidts, because they’re generally easy to accommodate dietary needs, such as low sodium, gluten free, low sugar, etc. Since I got the herbs/spices from San Francisco Herb Co, these are quite cheap to make. I will also be making several latte blends and some hot cocoa mix for gifts as well.

    * Baked more bread for the week.

    * Made cold brew coffee concentrate, and saved the grounds to resteep them again (for a longer period of time). This way I get twice the amount of coffee for the same amount of grounds.

    * Made buttermilk pancakes and cultured more buttermilk.

    * Added humidity and a pleasant scent to the air by simmering water with a few cloves, a little bit of cinnamon, and the peel of an orange. I can definitely tell that the air in the apartment is dry, so I will be doing this when I’m home to try and combat it.

    I hope you all have a great week!

  21. The right size bowls are definitely a need. It’s one thing to use a larger bowl than needed, but can be problematic to have to use one that is too small. Not to mention time consuming, and I like to use my time wisely as well.

    Is it frugal to eat leftover cookies all week? Certainly not good for the diet! Still using the free Lose It app to keep track of eating and exercise. We continue to exercise for free at home and by walking in the deep snow. It is quite a workout.

    I was able to use chicken and old veggies for a variety of meals from last week’s chicken purchase. We have been cleaning out the fridge in anticipation of actually grocery shopping (my mother sent a check to do just that!). I’m thankful to be able to plan some special Christmas week meals.

    My in-laws bought us a vacuum that is specifically for cleaning up pet hair without getting jammed. It arrived and is just what we need. I actually threw away our old vacuum as it was in such bad shape. I certainly got my money’s worth from it!

    Looks like I have a two week reprieve and am taking full advantage by working at my little job to put aside money to pay some upcoming bills. My dear husband is working and heads into his busy season. Thankful for all our blessings…especially that it is winter and I am able to wear a knit cap as my hair grows in. Seems to be working for the little I am out and about besides work. Everyone is in a knit hat now.

    Blessing to all during this season of joy.


  22. Brandy I am so glad you were able to pick up your ceramic mixing bowl to replace the broken one and we love them too but they are so hard to find nowadays. Finding the blanket for your son was another blessing as was finding gifts for 5 children and I am glad you had a lovely family day out at the museum too 🙂 .

    Things are getting rather serious for us water wise in Australia in our little country village and area with it announced yesterday that our town water restrictions are now down to 80 litres of water per person per day 😮 . I would like to ask anyone who would like to pray for us and other drought affected areas in Australia that we receive rain in ample measures and quantities as many have run out of water completely. Many farmers are unable to afford to buy water for their stock and homes and are working off their farms to make ends meet and many in our village are out of water in their rainwater tanks with many unable to afford to buy more.

    Our savings added up to $206.23 in savings last week :).

    Here is what we got up to last week –

    Finances and listings –
    – Listed 10 items on a free eBay listing promotion saving $16.50 in usual listing fees.
    – Paid an extra part payment off our home mortgage and we are now 10.3 months ahead in our payments in the first year :).
    – Banked more into our 3 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 62.3 % of the way there.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made a homemade cheesecake saving $12.78 over purchasing it.
    – Made a double batch of sultana and coconut biscuits saving $14.02 over purchasing them.

    Firewood & helping neighbours –
    – Cut another 1.2 cubic metres of firewood free from our neighbour’s property saving $144 over buying it in. We also cleared a lot of fallen branches around the property and took them to the tip for her.

    Purchases –
    – Purchased a 4.54 kg leg of ham on special with a $10 off promotion and combined this with a further 5% off with our RACQ Wish Gift card to save $12.17 on usual prices. This brought down the price of the ham to $7.13 kg. We de-boned it and sliced it up and put it in meal sized portions for the freezer.
    – Bought on markdowns 3 x 600ml of thickened cream and 1.76 kg of capsicums saving $6.46 on usual prices. We froze the cream and chopped up the capsicums and put them in meal sized portions in the freezer.

    In the gardens –
    – Planted cucumber, lettuce, basil & capsicum seeds and a rosemary plant in the gardens.

    Did our usual with any water we could save from showers, dish rinsing and grey water and used it all to water or clean something with :). Joy of joys we had a little rain which probably put a little back into our rainwater tanks, happy dances :).

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone :).


      1. Thank you so much Cindi we all really appreciate it 🙂 .

        You are so right that extended drought is indeed a scary thing. We are fortunate compared to most with about 12 months worth of rainwater still in our tanks to run our home with compared to many around us so we count our blessings everyday. It is others we worry about who are buying in bottled water to meet their everyday needs in their households.

        We visited a friend doing a welfare check on the family (grandmother, 2 special needs children and their mother) and they had turned their rainwater tank off as it had so little water in it and they are buying bottled water to meet their families needs. They do still have a little creek water for bathing in but it is also running low. I arranged through our church to have water delivered to them to make sure they had enough for their everyday needs. Bless her she said she thought “they were not as much in need as everyone else” so she didn’t ask for help. So glad we went and saw the family at their property to check on them 🙂 .

        Sometimes these experiences make you realise and appreciate more the blessings in your life that often we take for granted.


        1. Oh wow!

          It just shows how important all those little ways that you reuse water are so important, Lorna. Just like all the little ways to save money add up to having enough. You have enough water in a drought to still garden. We have had one of our lowest income years this year, but we have reduced expenses and were able to save 5 months of money last year to use this year. We have had enough and I have even been able to purchase some things this year that I could not in years past. All of the ways we have cut our needs and saved where possible make a HUGE difference.

          1. Brandy so very true being frugal and certainly a lot of help/blessings from above certainly makes our money go far further 🙂 . I am so glad you were able to save money from last year to carry over to this year for your family. May I add here I truly admire how you run your household so efficiently and frugally in all areas and you have given our family so many more ideas to work with.

            When things are hard and even when we can afford to buy something we need with a little left over we do indeed “have enough” .

            Have a fantastic week ahead 🙂 .


          2. Brandy, you published a great revelation–“cut our needs.” So often, we over-estimate what we really need to get by.

  23. We got our Christmas tree at our public market, we go to the same vendor/grower each year his trees are around 5 or 6 feet and cost $20 most in our area charge $50 or more
    I have 3 large containers of turkey bone broth made after Thanksgiving in the freezer. Used all the meat picked from the carcass for soup/sandwiches and pot pie.Used an old upright mailbox for outdoor decoration then added evergreen boughs, pinecones, berries all gleaned from the woods when I walk then added lights powered by batteries with timer on for 5 hours that lasts almost all winter each year.

  24. Hello to all, I have been reading and enjoying for years but have only commented two or three times. I loved hearing all of your stories and feel like I know so many of you! I need to be really careful with spending, I have been on S.S. disability for twenty years now,some days are good some days are not so good but I try to run my home (empty nest) as frugally as I can. Mabel I can really relate to your post! My sweet husband is 24 years older than me . He is 86 years old but you would probably guess he was 70-72? all that activity keeps them young.That said shoveling or even using the snow blower is another story. I really shuddered at your description of the frozen lump! I’m going to comment more often ,I really need to buckle down,prescription costs are taking a lot of income even with good insurance. My husband has taken a part time job three days a week to help. I think he works too hard, see Mabel? Oh well, Thank you all for listening and thank you Brandy,Denise in Pa.

    1. Lovely to see you comment and we would love to see you comment more often 🙂 and welcome to our friendly community and a big thank you to Brandy for providing us with such a lovely place to meet.

      Hello from Australia 🙂 . We are also on pensions here with a not so high income so we know what you mean in living frugally but it can be done with careful planning.

      Bless your husband for taking on a part time job and it sounds like yourself and your husband to really well.

      Have a fantastic week ahead 🙂 .


    2. Denise you can look for prescription costs at (the guy from my insurance co sent me there) If the store has it cheaper than where you’ve been getting it, your co-pay might be cheaper. I just assumed cvs was a drug store, so they’d be cheap………….wrong…………..I can get them for a lot less at my publix.

  25. Cooked at home every day except the day we spent with our grandkids, that day we ate at Chick-fil-A and took them to see Christmas lights. We also listed to Christmas music. I loved that my grandchildren like to hear songs about baby Jesus. Made a Shrimp coconut curry soup, a Lasagna, Beef Stroganoff over rice, tuna sandwiches, egg salad, Enjoyed vegetables that we bought on sale. 68 cent salads and 98 cent vegetable trays. Bought oranges for 50 cent a lb. Apples for about the same price. Mushrooms for 98 cents. I love the produce sales at this local store. They always have at least 2 deep discounted things for sale. I just work my menu around those sales.
    Stayed home several days as it has been snowing.
    Checked out some books from interlibrary loan over the phone and internet, I am looking forward to their arrival. I had seriously considered buying them. But decided to borrow instead.
    I’m looking forward to Christmas . I love giving presents. My grandchildren and great nephews are a lot of fun! I also want to make stockings for my sons. I thought about crocheting a denim rug for my mom.( Although I haven’t crocheted in about 40 years.I was just a kid when I made a scarf.) And make brownies for my dad. He loves brownies! I’d like to get spices for my niece and I may put those in a stocking as well. And my dear husband. He has had his eye on something that I want to get him. It isn’t overly pricey. But I can’t say what it is because I think he might read this.
    I have been looking up homeschooling things on the internet. I want to help my grandchildren learn. I love teaching. They are pretty busy with school and activities. But I am going to do Science projects with my grandson and ballet with my granddaughter.I think my granddaughter may also want to do science projects. She loves to learn. I hope next summer, I can spend more time with them. There is so much I ‘d like to teach them.

  26. Sounds like a busy week!! Don’t you just love youtube for learning new skills??

    Grandma gave my son a haircut.

    I used leftover from mom’s tree to decorate our mantel instead of buying a tree!

    Found a better deal on prints and shipping to save more than 50% estimated to pay on shutterfly. So instead of paying $50 shutterfly wanted I only paid $17! We do this as a fun family gift to get our pictures for the year printed up and put in a family album.

    I made soup from a leftover roasted chicken, gets every little scrap of meat off the bones and makes a wonderful rich gut healing soup.

    My friend had tree stumps ground up and they gave me a couple bags for my garden. If I can arrange it I can get quite a bit more from them.

    I raked up neighbor’s leaves for my compost pile/garden.

    I downloaded open office which is supposed to be kind of like a free version Microsoft Office.  Will see how it goes!

  27. So smart to ask about the outdoor area at the museum! Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were grilled pork with macaroni, steak salads, any whatever we could find…it’s been a busy week!
    *Colored my roots using 1/2 a dye kit and cut my own hair.
    *Had lunch provided by a vendor at work one day.
    *Visited a thrift store on their customer appreciation day. They had some excellent deals. I got 5 pairs of pants, two shirts, a sweater, 2 jar candle toppers, a devotional book, a Christmas basket and 2 Christmas mugs for $6.10!!! We also enjoyed free chocolate chip cookies while we shopped.
    *Found 4 packs of round steak marked down to less than $2/pack. Bought them all to go in the freezer. Also earned $2 in rewards at FL.
    *Used items from my pantry to make mini cheesecakes to take as a finger food after our church’s Christmas play.

  28. I made chicken noodle soup with a leftover chicken carcass and chicken I had cooked the week before. I always roast the bones first before making the stock, as it adds color and flavor to it.
    I tried pizza margherita for the first time last night and it turned out well!
    My knitting friends and I have been working on dishcloths, hats and scarves made out of scrap yarn. We delivered nearly 200 dishcloths, and several hats and scarves to our local Adopt a Native Elder center and they will deliver them to those in need.
    I made apricot butter cookies for a party out of the items that I had on hand.
    We went to a church party and came home with leftover orange juice, a pound of butter, and chocolate chips.
    I donated three bags of toys to my friend who is collecting them for a women and children’s center.
    I also donated a backseat full of items that I no longer use and listed two items on our local classified site–but haven’t had any takers yet.
    I did order a Christmas gift for my husband and signed up for Amazon Prime free for one month. I’ve had the chance to watch a couple of movies and will cancel it before I have to pay for the service.
    We went to a fabulous free Christmas concert featuring a woman violinist and her four children. The music was superb and left a very positive feeling.
    I made my first quilt this year and got it back from the machine quilter last week (I thought of you Gardenpat and your business. I wish you were closer to me). I put on the binding myself and enjoyed watching The Crown while snuggled under it.
    Brandy, I love ceramic mixing bowls as well and just don’t care for metal ones. I’m so glad that you found a replacement! One of my medium sized bowls has a crack in the finish, but it still holds up when I use it. Until it breaks I am not replacing it.

  29. This is always a challenging time of year to be frugal. It seems we always have a car repair bill in December, but then I remember that it’s cheaper than having a car payment and higher insurance for a new car, so I guess it’s frugal anyway, even if it hurts to write that check. For Christmas I am reaping the rewards of frugal gift shopping all year long as I ‘shop the stash’ for presents to wrap this week. I buy when things are on sale all year, and I always finish before Thanksgiving so that we don’t pile a lot of extra expenses into December with the inevitably higher grocery bills. I will wrap presents using materials bought on clearance after Christmas a few year ago – and actually, I quit buying ‘Christmas’ paper and instead look for paper that can be used for any occasion. So our presents will be wrapped in brown, gold and other ‘neutral’ papers this year and in years to come. I made homemade treats for a gift exchange at a client’s holiday party – they are BIG GIFT givers, and last year it caught me by surprise. The gifts they gave me, a contractor – not even an employee, and my husband were more costly than those we give in our own family, since we purposely keep Christmas simple. But I decided to not get caught up in a game of comparison or spending. I didn’t want to go empty handed, however, so I made several types of holiday treats and packaged them in pretty boxes as my gifts, and I added a small ornament on top of each box. I’ve already received a note asking for the recipes because everyone enjoyed them so much. We have been snowed in for the past few days, and I’m enjoying time playing games with my teenage boys.

  30. Well we are suddenly gearing up for Xmas as our uni daughter’s plane lands in less than 2 hours!! She wants to help Dad decorate the Xmas tree so we waited on that. I just prepped her room and hubby is doing her bathroom. He is also baking buns and I have a pork roast in the crockpot for pulled pork-her fave. I am also going to take out a frozen box of free Xmas cookies we received from out local market. She was up early for the plane so I suspect the first thing on her agenda will be a nap!

    Not too many frugal things happening here but all is within budget for a quiet family Christmas. Happy and joyful holidays to all!

    1. It is lovely to hear about you and your husband getting ready for your daughter coming home for Christmas. It was always special coming home from University for the holidays, and it is wonderful to see the excitement and bustle on the other side of this. Hope you have a wonderful time on her visit.

  31. I have been watching You Tube videos to inspire me to reduce waste (including reducing trash) and to be a better steward of the earth’s resources. I plan a no buy year for clothing for me for 2020 so I am getting ready. (I probably will still buy clothes for my growing grandson, but I am still trying to decide what is the best course – such as only used clothing, or minimal clothing or something that reduces waste.) I finished crocheting a scarf for my son in law (he has a new coat with new colors), I sewed a cover for a large and oddly shaped wedge pillow for my husband. I used an old printed sheet that I mostly had used as a tablecloth when I wanted a specific color scheme. Since I have 10 different tablecloths I do think I might also repurpose some of them as well.

    I am teaching myself to knit. This is a project for the long drive to the East coast – which starts tomorrow. My first project is a toy for the grandpets. I will stuff it with old stockings, which I will shred. Also, after watching some You Tube videos, I am unraveling an Eddie Bauer wool sweater which is about 20 years old and has a small hole in the front of the sweater. This is my first attempt to take apart an old knit and reuse the yarn.

    I volunteer as a circuit reader at the local library. I have an assigned daycare center to read children’s books to once a week. My “kids” are from homes without much enrichment and many of them have no books at home (which I really struggle to understand). They are only now learning to hold a book, turn the pages and listen to a story. They haven’t learned a very large vocabulary so I try to bring them age appropriate books that share the wide world with them. So I am giving each of them a picture book to take home for Christmas. I bought books from the Friends of the Library store for 25 cents each. I will have each child (one at a time) choose from 6 or 8 books to pick out one to take home and I will write their name in it.

    We have been working on eating the perishable food before travelling for about 2 weeks. I had some sour cream (given to me by someone who was moving) that I had frozen, thinking I would use it to make enchiladas. If you freeze it the texture changes and it is only really usable for baking. Well the enchilada plan didn’t come together so I tried a pancake recipe and a biscuit recipe to use the sour cream. I made both recipes and froze most of the pancakes and most of the biscuits. The pancakes were great! I will use that recipe again. The biscuits were good but not exceptional. We’ll take our fresh fruits and veggies (carrots, celery) on the road with us in the large cooler we’ll take. I made a gallon of iced tea to take with us, also.

    One of the committees I am on had a holiday potluck. I took 2 chicken potpies (using ingredients bought on sale) but there was so much food only one was eaten. I have enjoyed the other one this week. I’ll take the last 2 pieces of potpie for meals on the road. Although I can eat the pot pie cold, sometimes I will use the microwave at one of the large gas/convenience centers where we stop to refuel to heat up my lunch.

    I am so proud of my free tee shirt from the gym that I received this week that I gave it to my husband to wrap as a Christmas present. It is a reward for making 100 visits to the gym (in about 10 months)l. This is more impressive because I was “gone” for about 5 months while we worked in Yellowstone National Park as rangers. My free gym membership is a part of my Medicare supplement insurance and the Silver and Fit program. Another similar program is called Silver Sneakers.

    I mended 2 pairs of gloves for me and the CPAP mask chin strap for my husband.

    My husband’s alma mater, Ohio University, is playing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and we are going! I have crocheted my warm hat – in school colors forest green and white – and now am working on a scarf. ( I have two different alma maters from my husband- Kenyon College and George Washington University.) The game is played at Boise State University. We went to the game 8 years ago and it was cold! So warm attire must be assembled.

    1. I love your circuit reading story, Wyoming Gal! Yes, write their names in “their” books for them!
      I hope you have a great trip, and a great time at the game, and get to wear your new t-shirt soon!

      (I am using lots of “!” not just because I mean them, but because the sun is shining today, and on my ten day weather forecast, it is supposed to shine for two more days! I feel like we haven’t had three consecutive days of sun since July!).

    2. I think it is wonderful that you are volunteering to read and enrich children’s lives. How nice to give each of them a book with their name in it!

    3. Wyoming Gal,
      I had to chuckle when you spoke of the Silver Sneakers exercise class. The gym that we’ve been transferred to since our YMCA is being torn down and rebuilt is a Kroc Center, and has a pool and exercise equipment and classes. We still get an extremely reduced scholarship there as they have an agreement. My husband takes my autistic niece to that pool every Tuesday morning, as one of her activities. For the past 5 weeks, I’ve been going, too, and have been slowly getting my niece to participate in the class that goes on at the time she is there. It happens to be a Silver Sneakers exercise class in the pool concentrating on stretching and balancing. Tuesday was the first week she participated for the whole time, marching around in a circle with the rest of us, stretching, putting her leg out, things like that. All of a sudden, she stopped dead in the water and announced in a very loud, surprised voice, “I am the youngest one in this class!” (She’s 21) The ladies are all such good sports with her–one replied, “Don’t rub it in!” Everyone chuckled. I’m just so happy she’s participating. The teacher is so kind to her and the ladies are very patient. And she is getting much needed balance practice, stretching, a little exercise, and social skills practice. One lady turns out to be 90 years old! She seems so much younger and we all decided we need to take this class forever so we can look like that at 90!

      So, keep up your exercises. Who knows? Maybe you will look like her when you are 90!

    4. Wyoming Gal—

      I just mentioned to my husband today that I was thinking we should do a year of buying only used. I have been trying to use up things at home instead of buying more. It is concerning how much waste we have in the world.

      I really think it won’t be that hard to buy nothing new for a year. I went this week with my daughter to Goodwill to look for shorts–we are going on a family cruise as our Christmas gift. I was able to buy multiple pieces for both of us for $50.


  32. ravelling again (both for Thanksgiving and this past weekend) so not super frugal, but planned. We used gift cards for meals and gas that I bought when they were 6x and 12x gas points. So, no new OOP for those and the hotel nights were paid for a month ago (and got us extra hotel points when paid on a card and then paid off immediately). Hotels had all day free breakfast and coffee/tea.

    Husband talked to a host at the Las Vegas casino we will be staying at over the Christmas/New Year holiday and scored us a couple of free nights, and a discounted casino rack rate for the rest, plus a free New Year’s Eve party at the hotel. He will have to gamble some, so we can continue to get these deals, but we have a strict daily gambling budget (that we can afford) and any daily winnings go straight into my hand to pay down the mortgage.

    Attended a Holiday Tea with friends. Brought home the last course to enjoy the next day. Attended a Christmas party and was sent home with a plate of food. Made turkey soup to take to work to share from the carcass of a turkey a colleague froze for me as “my family wont eat leftovers”. Made spanikopita for a party as I found feta in the cheese drawer and phyllo in the freezer. I’m home so little this December. I don’t actually plan to go to the grocery store again until January!

    Yankee Candle had a great sale on votives, car air fresheners ($1 each), holders (50% off the already marked down!), and large jar candles (5 of the large ones for $55!) plus a military discount. I should be set for air fresheners, hostess gifts, and last second ladies birthdays for most of the year.

    Bought 4 pairs of shoes on Black Friday sales and with a military discount (Clark’s and Sketchers are great for wide feet and sore knees). Husband bought 2 new suits (on sale) pricey, but great quality and he won’t need another for a decade.

    We are “skipping” Christmas, but will still get gifts for my mother and her friend, as well as a few token gifts for friends. Carabbas, as well as the hair salon and the massage school I frequent, have specials where you get extra gift cards when you purchase gift cards at this time of year (i.e. buy 100 get 25 extra). I’ve put money away all year to take advantage of these specials.

    At 50,051 miles my battery decided to die and, of course, being “luxury” car you can’t just drop in a battery and go… Thankfully, my husband got us AAA a few months ago, and the clerks in the shop we willing to call around and find me a shop with the brand software to reset my computer – in town no less! Good to know if I need a repair in the future and thankful that it happened in my driveway instead of during our travels. Icing in the cake – the car is scheduled to go in for the 50,000 mile maintenance next Thursday, but could the battery hold out… nooooo.

  33. I spend a lot of time in December deciding if I met my goals for the year and setting my goals for the next year. I didn’t meet all of my goals for 2019.
    It has been a tough year for my family. I have 4 children and 6 grandchildren. Lots of illness, car wreck, surgeries, stress problems, miscarrage, marriages cracking and maybe breaking and many other problems. I won’t be sad to see the back side of this year. With that said…it sure isn’t the worst year we’ve ever had.
    On to saving money and living prudently.
    I had my annual physical. I paid my part of the office visit. I received a bill for $190. last month. I called the office and they never returned my call. When I got the bill again yesterday I called them again and asked why they hadn’t billed my insurance. Oh my goodness! I’m not sure what that will save me, but every little bit counts.
    I clipped coupons.
    We, Jake and I, scoured the grocery ads for the best prices in our area. We no longer have a grocery store here so I have to go 15 to 30 minutes away to get our food.
    We got lots of items on sale and bought in 3 different towns. We combined our buying of food with other errands for gas savings. We buy food while bill paying in two towns and picking up a granddaughter from school in another town.
    I bought gas at 21 cents a gallon less than I can buy it in town.
    When my daughter was promoted to manager I started picking her 2 kids up from school. This is a cost in gas, but a joy to me anyway.
    On the nights Windee (my daughter) works until 9 at night I send home leftovers from supper for her. That way I know she eats something healthy and she doesn’t have to kill herself to make something when she is so tired. I do this because she is my baby. *laughing* She is 41 and still mom worries. She gifted me with $250. to help with food and gas this month.
    My church came and caroled at the house gifting me with a small fruit basket.
    Friends gave me a $100. gift card for Christmas. I will use this for food next month.
    Jake and I have been cooking in bulk this week. We have made 4 huge meatloaves, 6.5 pounds of pinto and white beans. I don’t like ham so Jake got some ham hocks to flavor the beans with. I cooked the first lot of beans and we packaged them for the freezer. I took the ham hocks and used them again in the second lot of beans. The cooked meat will be eaten by the dog so no waste at all.
    We fried some left over mashed potatoes. We don’t add anything to them we just throw them in a pan and crisp them up. We have them with sausage and eggs for breakfast or meatloaf and beans for lunch.
    I also use leftover mashed potatoes for thickening soups.
    I have turned my walk-in closet table into a game area for my 12 yr old grandson. I also put the roll away bed in there when he stays over. The cost of this was nothing. I had purged over half of the clothing in there so half of the “closet room” was empty. He has some privacy and I have less noise plus I can monitor what he is doing on the computer.
    I am decorating with items I already have. Closer to Christmas I will cut some live greens to put around the house.
    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  34. Everyone sounds very busy! We are having a laid back Christmas this year, but the plans are coming together. Grandaughter is going to boyfriend’s parent’s house for a few days including Christmas. Our first year ever without her home. But my DD and SIL and we are making a festive dinner anyhow—I have a bigger than usual beef roast in the freezer that I offered to cook, and DD said she will make a pecan pie. Those are easy things to work some sides around and the four of us will have dinner together on Christmas.
    Grandaughter and boyfriend will join us when they get back for another Christmas dinner–lasagna, another easy meal, and we ordered some specialty ice cream from a place in town that makes different flavors every year for Christmas. We’ve bought them a few time–4 pints for one price–not sure what it is right now but it’s a treat. And it’s homemade specialy flavors for the holiday. We usually manage to have a tasting contest so everyone can try them all! There will also be another dinner party with my siblings and their families the week between Christmas and New Year’s when we can see whatever nieces and nephews turn up on that day. Many live in other states, so whoever is here on the date, comes along.

    As for last week–I got my husband away from the store bakery a bit–made applesauce, bread, chocolate cream pie, and later chocolate chip cookies for his desserts and snacks. SO much cheaper than store bought stuff, and better tasting in my opinion!
    Husband was having problems with a jacket zipper which I managed to research on You Tube and then fix it! His old jacket is literally in pieces which I have sewn back together so he can wear it for snowblowing. Land’s End had 50% off everything, so I suggested it was time to spring for a back up jacket, which we ordered and received. Still having some troubles with the zipper but with a couple suggestions from me (be patient and don’t yank on it when it doesn’t work the first time) he is doing better! Saved about $100 getting the jacket on sale, and took the opportunity to wash the older one, which is still in great shape now that it’s clean and IF he has patience with the zipper.
    I didn’t accomplish a whole lot last week because we had three doctor appointments, but we did get those checked off the “to do” list. Laundry and washing dishes took up most of the rest of my time. I did call about two medical bills as well and got the problems solved on those.
    Last night I cooked half a LARGE chicken, thinking there would be some left for a small batch of soup, however husband was extra hungry and I’m not sure I can manage soup with one wing and one drumstick! I did save the broth from roasting, though, so if I add a small chicken breast and some noodles, I might still get a meal of chicken soup made! It’s snowing and cold today and it still sounds good to me. With some homemade bread made into garlic toast it could serve my purpose.
    The other half of a dirty kitchen floor awaits me–I did the first half and then sat down to let it dry. Have to move things around to do the second half so I better get at it!
    Although I did order a couple last minute gifts on line, I was too busy to shop much so there was little spending done from here last week at all! Just an extra large grocery order but I was careful with the coupons and sale items so it wasn’t much more than normal, money-wise.

  35. Thank you Brandy for hosting this wonderful community and Christmas wishes to everyone! I am also another person who reads every post but rarely comments. Our Christmas expense was kept in line by having a set budget, shopping my gift stash and reusing decorations in different ways. We had planned on a lot of travel after retirement, but my DH’s health has meant postponing some trips until after surgery in January. However, one of our biggest frugal “saves” was using airline credit (for voluntarily getting bumped) to purchase tickets for a trip next May (we had to use before end of year). We have traveled East coast but never out west — so we plan to fly to Las Vegas and from there visit grand canyon etc. Sooo, closer to May I may be asking some of you for travel tips! Thank you ladies for sharing every week! Merry Christmas!

  36. I was able to do some at-home things this week that saved me some money. I made home-made salad dressing from some pesto my husband made and froze last summer. It had a great flavor and I had all the ingredients at home. I usually buy ranch dressing, but I had just returned from the store when I realized I was out and did not want to go back again! With all the guests around here lately, we are burning through the food!

    I made some sea foam candy for the first time. I want it for a special Christmas gift for my niece, who adores that kind of candy. It is usually purchased at the beach at a candy store and is expensive, along with being available at the beach, not here! Even though it’s only a little over an hour to get there, I was glad to find a solution right here at home! I put a picture and a link to the recipe on my blog:

    I made lots of soup to feed my extended family. It was my turn to bring the bulk of Family Sunday Dinner this week, and I took vegetable soup (completely vegetarian from garden vegetables for the most part), chili that was full of pinto beans with some hamburger, banana bread from bananas my husband scored for a very low price, salad and that home-made dressing. Everyone was full and satisfied for a very small amount of money.

    I’ve been making Christmas presents almost daily. I’m almost done with what I’m doing. We have several extra guests this Christmas, and I bought some generic gifts for the people who are coming that I’ve never met or hardly know, such as one niece’s boyfriend (I chose See’s Candy–everyone likes that and I want her to know how pleased we are to meet him. This is a big deal in our family–none of us have met him yet, and I think it’s serious:)

  37. We’re in the home stretch for Christmas, and the busyness increases.
    Unfortunately, my husband got another infection and had to be hospitalized again. This is the fifth time this year. I was half-way through with the Christmas preparations and I just hope I can get it done. He should be home in a couple of days, and he will keep me busy when he gets here. Luckily, we caught it earlier this time, so he’s not as sick.
    I am done shopping for Christmas. What with sales, using Swagbucks, and rebates, I spent much, much less than I could have. I have successfully fought off the “just one more gift” urge, which I get when my shopping is done.
    My work is providing a nice dinner for us tonight, so free food for me while my husband is resting comfortably in the hospital, with family checking in on him while I’m out.
    I’m calling on a bill to see why it appears I’m being billed again for a medical service I’ve paid for. My part is just $18, but I’m not blindly sending that in until I check it out.
    I stuck to my guns about a co-pay for my MRI, and convinced the clerk not to charge me the $400 my insurance told the doctor’s staff I owed, but $300, which is supposed to be my co-pay. I just got an EOB from my insurance stating my portion was indeed $300. I know from past experience that it takes months to get that money back if I over pay.
    Best wishes, everyone!

  38. A frugal, not-so-frugal week. My freezer malfunctioned. I caught it in time so I didn’t lose most of the meat, but lost all the vegetables and fruits. It was a good opportunity to clean it out, top to bottom. The part was $148 (yikes) and my Mr. Fixit wanted to charge me $10 for gas to pick up the part, but that was far less than his time. $200 later my freezer is working correctly and that $200 was a bargain! Now to re-stock it!

  39. -I made bread for the week. I’m testing a few different recipes to come up with one we like best. We are definitely a sandwich family. So far I really liked a milk bread we tried. A recipe I found that used olive oil stayed soft and fresh much longer (though I don’t think I’ll do it again. All that oil is too expensive for a basic sandwich bread). I usually make a loaf of the standard white bread that I’ve always used and then a loaf of something that looks like an interesting try.
    -I went to pick up our prescriptions and wasn’t charged the usual $10/prescription copay. I have no idea what changed in our insurance plan, we haven’t met our out of pocket max so it can’t be that. I’m just thankful to save that expense! Prescription costs usually run us about $100/month so that was a nice savings.
    -My husband has been paying installments on a large state tax debt for several years now and when he went to pay his installment this month was told that there wasn’t a balance owed any longer! We have been chipping away at this debt for a few years now and were under the impression we still had a couple years to go. The collections manager at the tax office says the remaining balance was forgiven. This is saving us almost $700/month. Right now I think it’s a situation of too good to be true so I’m keeping that money set a side for a while expecting any day now to receive an angry letter demanding payment.
    -I have been searching for a wine rack of some sort for quite a white. Everything that I’ve been coming across just has not matched what I’ve been wanting. I was in Home Goods and found a bar cart that was the exact color/style I’ve been looking for. It was missing a small support at the back that I knew would be an easy fix. I used the defect to negotiate a 25% discount with the store manager.
    I found a nice yarn at Michaels to crochet my middle son a blanket for his bed as a Christmas gift. I started crocheting again last year after I got breast cancer and have determined to make each of my children something lasting that they will be able to have of me should anything happen to me. I don’t have any reason to believe I won’t be around for a long while but I remember my grandmother making me a crocheted teddy bear when I was young and it was my most prized possession well into my 20’s until I lost it to a house fire. She passed a few years after making me that bear but the lasting remembrance of her made a big impact on me.
    -We turned our formal dining room into my husbands home office and then turned his office into my new home office. Husband works full time from home and I just transitioned to a new job that will allow me to work from home part time so dedicated office spaces where each of us could conduct conference calls or zoom meetings without household interruption was essential. The office was barely big enough to fit his desk and computer equipment and did not allow enough room for book shelves or an extra chair (You had to turn sideways and squeeze to get around the desk! lol). The dining room is much larger and keeps him from feeling so claustrophobic.

    Unfortunately my new job still requires that I show up at my workplace each day so my gas usage is still basically the same but I’ve found that I can work from home all morning, avoiding rush hour and the morning rush around the house getting ready and then I can eat my lunch at home and head into work for the afternoon. This basically eliminates the moments of whoops, forgot my lunch at home and ending up buying something.
    Have a good week everyone

    1. It is possible that after a certain number of years, the state forgives the debt. I hope so for you! How wonderful!

  40. Well my daughter and three kids, including a three month old, and a fifteen year old niece arrived from South America after a twenty four hour delay. It took them forty eight hours to get here and they were exhausted. They have been doing lots of extra naps and we have just stayed home and played with cousins. I am making lots of soups and raw veggies and fruit for meals. We will have soup at least four or five times a week with meals with meat the other days. They are used to lots of beans and rice and soup, which is perfect! It has been such a joy to see them all and meet our newest grand Baby!

    There are lots of nasty bugs circulating amongst family here and out of town, Strep, pneumonia, three day viruses with high fevers and such. We are being very carefully with a little baby around, and some family opted to not come till all their kids were well after Christmas. Those that are old enough are taking my homemade elderberry syrup and we are diffusing kidsafe essential oils and bring careful about the sugar intake since that suppresses the immune system. Hopefully, the baby will stay well!

    I made homemade veggie spray for all the raw, marked down produce I bought. I made hummus and that is what all the snacks and lunches include. We will have homemade Christmas cookies that we will make today with the cousins, and desserts for Christmas. Other than that we do not eat sweets. It is too easy to go overboard on sweets this time of year and then get sick with all sorts of bugs and feel yucky from overdoing it. My kids are on board with trying to keep their families healthy! We have several that are GF and DF free and more that are needing that due to eczema and so the soups really help to make for easier meals that fit the needs.

    Blessings to each of you this week!

  41. My 10 year old and I went to our bi-annual dental check up that our insurance covered in full. Neither of us had a cavity. Stayed at a hotel for a basketball tournament for $76 a night that had a king size bed and kitchen(hubs is almost 6’3 and is way more comfortable for him) Cooked all meals but two for this tournament. Cooked every meal that week which included many soups with stock made from the skin of garlic, onion and ends of asparagus. Drove our electric car whenever we could to save on gas money. I cut both my husband and my son’s hair. While we were out of town, I booked our next tournament for February for $56/night, an executive sweet with another King sized bed. I calculated that we are saving about $6000/year on basketball because we switched teams. We found a free mini-golf while in Portland that we went to. I am trying to practice buying as much as possible plastic free, I feel like it is going to save us a lot more money because I will have to make more items. For instance, crackers are always in plastic, by making Brandi’s recipe, I won’t have to waste plastic because flour comes in paper bag.

  42. Marisa, if by Portland you mean Portland, Oregon, and you are from another state, don’t forget there is no sales tax in Oregon. That’s an automatic 6% saving over what I would pay here in Idaho, and a much bigger saving if you are from Washington. Montana also does not have a sales tax.

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