I had a shoe repaired, rather than buying new shoes.

I spent time pruning my garden to help my flowers and trees be healthier and produce larger fruit.

I organized my garden seeds to be able to start planting in earnest.

I planted seeds in the garden for snow peas, lettuce, larkspur, and Swiss chard.

I watered my potted plants with each day’s shower warm-up water and water left over in glasses at the end of each night. While all water that goes down the drain is recovered and reused in our city, I like to make sure I get to use all that I’ve paid to use. I read this week that the extra rain we’ve had this year has caused Lake Mead to rise six feet! That is a huge deal and I am very excited to hear it.

As usual, all food was cooked at home from scratch. Some of the things we ate this week were turkey noodle soup (with Swiss chard from the garden); a turkey vegetable soup; bean and rice burritos; blackberry peach smoothies with blackberries and peaches that I had frozen from our garden; turkey enchiladas with green beans (the ones I purchased for $0.10 a pound); roasted chicken thighs (the ones I had purchased for $0.89 a pound) with green beans (the ones I had purchased for $0.10 a pound) and mashed potatoes; omelettes, toast, and oranges; breakfast burritos.

I decided to change my grocery shopping plans this month when a friend texted me from Sam’s Club. She saw that the #10 size cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes that I buy were being cleared out. These are 106-ounce cans. With my large family (who love lots of sauce on their pasta), we go through the entire can now when we make spaghetti. They are regularly priced at $3.26. They were on clearance for $1.71 each. I bought a cart full of cans of mostly sauce. We were low on them anyway and I had just planned to wait to buy more. I hope they are switching brands or designs and not getting rid of this size altogether, as these cans of tomato sauce are a huge savings and one of the reasons I shop at Sam’s Club and not Costco.

I watched a free business series that was available just this week in a private Facebook group. In the group, one person mentioned a book, and several people chimed in that they liked it (and two that they were currently reading it!) I requested the e-book through our library via the Libby app.

I signed up for and listened to a free business webinar.

I listened to several episodes of a business podcast while doing laundry and organizing my garden seeds.

I purchased a needed lens for my photography business on sale for 52% off. I chose to purchase a Sigma lens, which is already much less than the Nikon version of the same lens (I’m a Nikon shooter). The sale saved me $500 on a much-needed piece of equipment that should help me be able to move to photographing weddings, which will be an increase an income over portrait sessions.

I made a double batch of laundry detergent.

I gave my husband a haircut.

I spent some time organizing the children’s outgrown clothes. I put together a large donation box and will continue to add to it as I organize more clothes and items this month.

My son found some great math tutorials on YouTube for the type of math problems he was struggling to do.

We listened to music on YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora.

About six weeks ago, I turned off our two irrigation clocks because of rain. I was unable to get the larger of the two to turn back on after the rain left. My husband, who has done a fair amount of electrical work at home, could not figure it out and said we would need to find an electrician. In trying to find one, we remembered that a neighbor is an electrical engineer. We asked if he would look at it and he was able to tell us that there was power to the box, but that the irrigation clock was dead.

We researched the price of one online. Our timer controls nine different valves, so I knew from purchasing our previous one 12 years ago that it would be a costly one.

I went to the local nursery and spoke with the manager. He told me that there was a rebate for a smart controller from the water district that made the 12-valve control cheaper than the 9-valve controller. It also made it equal to the price we had seen online. He said I could print the coupon at home and then the rebate would be given at the time of purchase. I said it was too bad that I couldn’t fill out the form online and that the code could be used from my phone, rather than driving home and back. He suggested that I fill out the form on their computer and they printed it for me. The rebate saved me $80.

At the nursery, I picked up a few plants on sale for my white garden. Snapdragons are a winter and spring-blooming flower in our climate. Prices have increased in the last couple of years, and the regular price at the local nursery is now $1.28 for a 4-inch pot. They had snapdragons marked down to $0.48 each, and I had been planning to plant some snapdragons. I purchased some on deep discount for the garden. I also purchased a few more small flowers in the same size pot also on sale for a little bit more to fill in some empty spots in the garden.

What did you do to save money this past week?, and breakfast cuttios.

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  1. I got a $212. check from Bank of America – $200 was for getting their credit card and spending $1000 on it over the first 90 days. We charged almost all of our normal purchases plus family zoo passes for 5 of our kids and their children. Since these were already budgeted items, as soon as the bill came in about a month later, I immediately paid it off and they gave me the $200. The extra $12 were rewards amounts for the same purchases!
    The $50 Visa card came as a rebate for replacing our old refrigerator with an energy efficient one!
    By using my regular bank’s MasterCard for many of my monthly purchases that are in the budget, I got $30 in rewards money that I immediately deposited into our savings account! I paid off the card before the bill even came.
    Completely eating from our food storage and I’m amazed at how varied our meals and snacks are able to be! Certainly not like the old days when it would have meant eating our wheat every day! Lol! I was even able to take dinner over to a family without getting any ingredients from the store.

    I did buy a 50 pound bag of rice at Sam’s Club for $16.84. This is the first time that I’ve bought rice in 8+ years!! I filled a vacuum canister with rice for keeping in the kitchen and the rest I vacuum sealed in quart size mason jars (from the hundred+ I was given this summer!) They are now happily stored on a shelf! https://pin.it/6xlk7eb5syjnow

    I also bought 5 half gallon bottles of apple juice that after their sale price, ibotta rebate and Kroger cash back rebate cost me 9 cents each! For that price, I will spend so I can add them to my basement shelves!
    I sold 4 more sets of Soup Cozies- 2 regular size, 2 larger size! I also loaded a customer quilt on Lenni to quilt up for her this week! https://pin.it/lsgwtfm2hog25r. We’re doing a sale on the price of our machine quilting through March 1 to promote our business. This is the first one to come in!
    Hubs is rebuilding a row of my lower kitchen cabinets. When we put them in, our son had given us the upper cabinets from their kitchen remodel. Upper cabinets are not as deep so Hubs had a false back on them so they would be deep enough for the standard depth countertop he put on them. But the time has come to build cabinets (still with adjustable shelves) that will give me more storage and help to organize things even more! I keep kitchen size canisters of basics in them- wheat, beans, rolled oats, chocolate chips, etc. that I use regularly. When they run out, I go down to my basement pantry to refill them! Here is a photo in progress of new cabinets. https://pin.it/leqzarp2sgk7wx.

    I made muffins this morning from mixes I have- apple muffin mix I made using dehydrated apples I dry pack canned back in 1998. https://pin.it/vixeemmdq2gjnu. As well as a blueberry muffin mix a friend gave us for Christmas! https://pin.it/a7pzrf6dmb2tqg Oh, how I love the convenience and savings that we have from having homemade mixes!

    I played a game with myself. I would allow myself to sew for 45 minutes (I set a timer) but then I had to find a place in the house that I could declutter for the same amount of time! After sewing, I went to kitchen and counted out 5 sour cream (16 oz) containers and 5 chicken salad containers (32 oz) with corresponding lids. Then I bagged up and got rid of all the other dozens of used lids and containers! This may not, on the surface, seem frugal, but in reducing clutter, it makes it easier to clean kitchen and gives me more space. It also seems easier to find things I am looking for!

    1. I love that chocolate chips are a basic staple at your house 🙂

      I also love your 45-minute challenge. I need to do that!

    2. Gardenpat, I notice you do a lot of vacuum sealing in jars, and I’m very interested in this! Do you find that it keeps things like grains, beans, and dehydrated fruits/veges as well as doing the thing where you put them in the 5-gallon buckets and use those packets that keep freshness? I’ve read about that but the vacuum sealing sounds like a great fit for my storage space.

      1. Jenny Raith- I keep my wheat, dry beans, sugar and AP flour in 5 gallon buckets. One bucket of each item will have a gamma seal. When that bucket is empty, I refill it from one of the other buckets without a gamma seal.
        My rice, however, can be problematic. I had several #10 cans of rice that I bought from our LDS Home Storage but the cost per can now is just over $1/pound – about $6 for a 5.5 pound can that is commercially sealed with an oxy pack in it and can be on my shelf for 20 years without a problem. The rice I had in 5 gallon buckets could get “buggy “ after a while. So, because we have an over abundance of quart mason jars that we were given this summer (a few hundred on top of what we already had and use regularly), I decided to use the Foodsaver vacuum sealer I have. This means that I’m not opening a whole bucket every time I need rice, so I can use it before that happens! For us, this works well!
        I vacuum seal things that I dehydrate- fruits, veggies. Also dry meal mixes that I make- Barley/beef stew (just add meat and water), potato soup, etc , so I have the convenience of dump (into crockpot) and go meals. I also vacuum seal jars/canisters of baking chips, peanuts (I got 30 pounds a few months ago for 35 cents a pound! So I put them in quart size mason jars. Made peanut brittle, peanut clusters, etc to gift a Christmas and the peanuts were as fresh as when I bought them- not rancid or “off” tasting!
        I vacuum seal my muffin mixes- 1 batch per quart jar, for convenience. Only caveat with that is that after filling jar, I put a cupcake wrapper or paper circle on top before I put lid on to seal so the powdery flour, etc. does not get sucked into the vacuum sealer,
        I also use my vacuum sealer to reseal bags like potato chips, etc that could lose their crispness. Those I don’t vacuum, only use the seal option on my Foodsaver.
        So, to answer your question, YES! I love my vacuum sealer as well as my buckets! I keep my vacuum sealer on my countertop so it’s convenient to use.

        1. Thank you so much! That is very helpful info. I’m definitely keeping the vacuum sealer, along with a dehydrator, on my list of next things to get for our home.

        2. I was told to put a few bay leaves in my storage containers to keep bugs out of my food storage. I have been doing that few years now. So far so good – no bugs. I do change the bay leaves occasionally.

        3. Gardenpat, I usually enjoy reading your comments almost as much as reading Brandy’s weekly posts…but this week takes the cake! Superb outline of how you store your bulk items. I’m so impressed, and also encouraged to “keep on keeping on”. I was blessed with a vacuum sealer from my father-in-law over 10 years ago. I have used it to the point of exhausting the poor thing…but it keeps trucking along. I am the only person that I know of (in my circle) that uses one, especially for random things. I don’t know how I could ever live without it. My niece is currently expecting twins, on top of two young children under the age of 3. She’s all about being frugal, and storing bulk items that she can find at a good discount. It’s been fun to chat about this back and forth with her. I’ve tried to mention the ins and outs of ‘putting up’ the more unusual things whenever the topic comes up. She’s absolutely rolling along now, and it’s been so good to see the next generation catching on. Out of curiosity, and because I am also the only person that I know that does this, have you canned homemade broth and stock? I would enjoy knowing your (or anyone else’s) adventures with that, as I have found it to be one of the most economical and helpful things I’ve ever canned.
          Thanks so much!

          1. E. Tallent, I can broth and stock all the time. Right now I have some chicken bones in my small crockpot that cooked all night. I call it “bone” soup so no one will walk by and scoop out a bowl for dinner. It will be used immediately because there isn’t enough to bother canning just one jar. I use the tattler reusable lids so there is no expense (other than electricity). They seem to fly off the shelf of my pantry. I don’t even bother to date them because they won’t last long before being used for something. I always boil my Turkey bones after Thanksgiving and can that broth also. After you try canning broth, try canning meat. If you think there are a million uses for broth, wait until you see the convenience of already having meat cooked and ready. When canning chicken, I get the bone-in chicken breast, cut off the large piece of breast meat, can it, then boil the bones overnight and can the broth the next day. I have canned: chicken, hamburger, beef and smoked ham. All have been a success and are very tender when the jar is opened. Living in a family of male carnivores, the meat doesn’t last long on the shelf.

  2. Well, don’t leave us hanging! You can’t mention a book that many people enjoyed and not share the title with us. At least around this reader anyway. The library is one of my best money saving ideas and where I live in the Midwest we are in the deep freeze. A good book would be a nice way to spend the time.

    Thanks for your blog.

    1. If I like it I will tell you! There were a few that were suggested to me last year by people whose advice I loved on everything else–but I hated their book recommendations! So, I will wait to see if I like it first!

  3. I will try to post again a little later, but for now, I have seen no posts from Athanasia in quite a while. I’m just wondering if anyone knows if she is all right.

  4. -Bitterly cold weather all week, so I will be spending it indoors. No spending on gas or on quick trips to the store! I checked all the heating vents to make sure nothing was blocking any heat. I rolled towels to put at the main entrance doors, and re-sealed a small window on the front door that lets some cold in.

    -I’ve prepped the makings of salmon cakes using one of the large cans of salmon I bought a week or two ago. Several meals will be quick to make from this. For snacks, I have mandarin oranges left over from Christmas, popcorn, cheese, and the makings of hot chocolate. I’ll have time to do some baking too.

    -Many bills are going up as of January 1. The internet is up $5, My car insurance company has had approval to raise rates on basic insurance by 29% after a rate cap was removed by the new provincial government. Gas for the car has gone up 7 cents a litre, which is 27 cents Canadian a gallon (20 cents US) due to a carbon tax. Natural gas for heating will have a similar increase. We’ll see a rebate on the carbon tax but not until we file our taxes in the Spring of 2021. Food prices will go up to reflect the added cost of transport because of the carbon tax. I usually try to absorb increases through reducing expenses, but this year some may come from reducing savings for a time. Two pensions go up 1 to 2% per year in January because of last year’s cost of living increases. There are several other small income increases in the next year or so, so I can increase savings again when they start.

    I’ve spent more time than usual watching the news, because of the sad, sad downing of the jet in Iran, carrying so many Canadians, and others on board. Also following other less serious news out of the UK.

    1. Elizabeth, we have had several increases here too. Our HOA went up; it is now almost double what it was when we purchased our home 14 years ago. Our sales tax rate increased; we do not pay tax on unprepared food here, but clothing, toiletries, etc. will be more. Our utility rates have increased for multiple utilities.

      1. I’m sorry to hear the taxes are rising for things like toiletries. The first thing that came to my mind when I read that was how many actual “food” products I buy to then make toiletry and cleaning items. For example, I use baking soda and vinegar for lots of cleaning and household uses and both are taxed as food here in Missouri. Also I have recently switched to using coconut oil in several toiletry items like toothpaste, face moisturizer and body lotion. Just one little way to save a bit, and I hadn’t ever thought of it that way.

        1. There is no sales tax on unprepared food in our state. When I was a child and we went to the store in Missouri with my grandmother, I was shocked to discover that there is sales tax on food. It certainly makes for things to be more expensive.

      2. I suppose we just need to focus on the expenses we can have an impact on. I am really glad to have quite a bit of food in the house while I adjust to some of these new prices! Following this blog helped me get in the habit of stocking up, and of cooking from scratch, so thank you for that.

        1. What we don’t know is what impact the provincial government’s increase in property tax rate will be (the education portion is provincial; Calgary is angry because in hard times the city tried to keep increases as low as possible but then the province comes along with the new government and hikes the education component). The rate increase will of course be province wide.

          1. I definitely expect property taxes to go up, because municipalities will have less money one way or the other. This is the first year that I can take advantage as a senior of being able to defer property taxes. I haven’t decided whether to do that yet, though I am thinking I would rather have the cash on hand. I am glad to have the option.

          1. I am happy to tell you that I was mistaken about our having to wait until 2021 for a carbon tax rebate. Apparently they are giving it to us an incentive, if we claim it in our 2019 taxes. It is on the Finance Department website. Also I use SimpleTax, and it calculates the credit in the 2019 version as an Alberta resident.

            Doing my best to stay warm. I’m just not leaving the house until things start to warm up.

          2. Oh, I’m relieved you’re wrong! Thanks for clarifying it. You’ve done great research! There are two components to property tax: the municipal and the provincial education. It is the rise in the provincial education tax that will hit us. I’m staying in and hopefully the Chinook winds will reach us by Sunday.

      3. Our gas went up to $2.39 a gallon and I drive an hour, one way, to work. My car insurance went up also the first of the year. I have noticed food prices have gone up. I used to be able to get chicken for 39 cents a lb, now the lowest I find it is 50 cents a lb.

        1. Gas has gone up to $2.89 a gallon here. I have noticed at the grocery store that items that come in bags has gone down to 12 oz. from 16 oz. but the price has remained the same. Our weather here in central Pennsylvania has been so erratic–high 50’s one day and back to 20’s the next. Everybody has colds! I’m thinking of designing some kind of sponge you can attach under your nose to catch the drips!

      4. I live in NY and we have had our school taxes go up, county taxes and town all to cover pensions and health care, gas prices are up already. We have a grocery store Wegmans that lowered prices on some basic items like eggs, yogurt, cereal and various other food items they considered every day basic necessities
        I am grateful that we also have Aldi’s, Walmart, Target, Sam’s, BJ, Costco all in a close radius to help with food costs. In my area we are surrounded by farmers who have CSA this is where you pay a fee and get a box of seasonal fruits and vegetables weekly. We also have plenty of dollar stores, Goodwill and several second hand stores to either buy from or donate to

    2. Thanks for posting Elizabeth. I had mistakenly assumed the carbon tax rebate would come on this years taxes-thanks for letting me know it will be next year.

      1. As I commented to Ellie above, I am happy to tell you that I was mistaken about our having to wait until 2021 for a carbon tax rebate. Apparently they are giving it to us an incentive, if we claim it in our 2019 taxes. It is on the Finance Department website. Also I use SimpleTax, and it calculates the credit in the 2019 version as an Alberta resident.

  5. I made laundry soap and noodles for us and Daughter’s 4 family. I sorted my seeds, ordered what was needed using discounts and coupons . We figured out the thermostat for the furnace is off by 3 degrees so I put a thermometer above it and we now go by that. We ate from the pantry except for 1 time and that was an early celebration of my birthday.We went to a place that used to be our favorite that is over an hour away. Did all the normal every day things of being frugal. Hubby did ask how I got the electric bill cut by average of over $14/month. and my answer was DAILY habits.
    Looking forward to reading everyone’s posts.
    Brandy is there a website that you go to regularly for your photo business? My son has a young friend (family of 8) that is starting her own business

    Blessed Be everyone


  6. Wow, that soup looks amazing! And it’s nice to hear that you’re planting seeds already, when it’s icy and snowy where I am. Reminds me that spring is on the way!
    My frugal accomplishments:
    – I made a meat pie using my super-yummy vodka pie crust (http://approachingfood.com/preservative-free-vodka-pie-crust/). I used up some meat that my husband had cooked up and frozen more months ago than I remember, plus some leftover au jus gravy that I had frozen, as well as some frozen vegetables. I served it with a wedge salad and homemade salad dressing when my sister visited on the weekend. For myself (veg), I mixed (very cheap) tvp with bbq sauce and frozen vegetables and made a mini pie.
    – I bought a $5 produce box using the flash food app: I got apples, oranges, organic mini cucumbers, lemons, clementines, mini sweet peppers, and grapefruits. Almost all the produce I will need for the week, and only $5!
    – I used some of the mini sweet peppers to add to (homemade) sweet and sour pineapple sauce. I added that to rice and some chicken (discounted from the flash food app) for my husband, and swapped in lentils for myself. I made extra rice and lentils and froze them for easy future meals.
    – I made a batch of mini baked berry oatmeal cups for my daughter, and used the frozen service berries that I picked for free in the fall.
    – I redeemed loyalty points to get $20 worth of groceries for free.
    – I attended a free baby and mom fitness class.
    – I submitted receipts to claim a $10 gc to a grocery store via a manufacturer promo.
    – My husband got a new job, so on the last day of work at his old job, I sent in about 8 doz. homemade chocolate chip cookies. More affordable than buying individual gifts for everyone. I like to think that my baking helps my husband with networking etc., and given that his old boss used to joke that I was the CBO (Chief Baking Officer) at the company, I think it worked!
    – I borrowed my mother’s waffle iron and made a batch of waffles to keep in the freezer for quick breakfasts.
    – I gave my mom some magazines that I was finished with, as well as a few grapefruits from my flash food box, and she gave me a gorgeous brand-new china platter that she was generously gifted but had no place for. I placed it on the table at my front entrance, to corral my daughter’s shoes. (If I place them any lower, she’ll grab them and wander off to play with them, and I won’t be able to find them when we need to leave. This way, they’re accessible to me, and the fancy platter makes it pretty instead of odd!)
    – I made a chocolate red wine cake using leftover red wine from the New Year’s Day lunch that I hosted.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded a box of k-cups that I had gotten for free with a coupon, for a large bag of chocolate bridge mix, plus some digital currency.
    Looking forward to learning from everyone as always!

    1. Margarete,
      I checked out your vodka pie crust. I’ve got some vanilla flavored Absolute vodka that I’m never drinking. Do you think it would add flavor to the crust and would it taste OK?

      1. Wow! I’m not Margaret … but, I bet you could simply use it to replace vanilla in your recipes since many people make their own vanilla extract by soaking vanilla beans in vodka.

  7. The round-the-corner neighbors gave us their ham bone. They have been so helpful through the years. Navy bean soup is in the slow cooker now. Mom and I rarely buy a whole or half ham because we are such a small family so we are looking forward to the soup for dinner.
    After nearly a quarter-century of plowing mom’s driveway for free, they’ve dropped insurance on their very old plow truck so it has to stay on their property. The husband got it running again (Whew!) but it is on its last legs so they need to keep it alive as long as possible to plow their own hilly driveway. He is retired now and tired of spending time keeping old vehicles running so they just leased a new car. When their truck broke down in November, I bought a little electric snowblower. With it, I’ll be able to clear mom’s driveway but it’ll probably take me a couple of days when we get a big dump of snow. So far, since I’ve owned the snowblower, we really haven’t had enough snow to bother clearing the driveway. I expect that will change by next weekend.
    With the forecast for up to 3/4 inch of ice and 40 mph winds over last weekend, I spent Friday preparing for a long power outage–I was acting a like coastal residents do when a Cat 4 hurricane is about to hit. I went to Dollar General for groceries and personal supplies. At home, I realised I had forgotten to buy more D cell batteries. So I ran out again at night to Family Dollar for enough to run our battery-optional fan that I intended to use to get warm air out of the sunroom and into the living room if the only heat we had was the fireplace and the ventless gas heater in the sunroom. (I only run those when we are awake; we have two carbon monoxide detectors; and, no matter the temperature outside, one of the sunroom’s nine windows is open at least an inch when the gas heater is running.) Yesterday, I opened the little bag I had stored right next to my nice battery organizer and found the batteries I had stashed away when I first bought the fan. I had too many of the larger batteries to fit them all in the nifty organizer. Oh well, now I can keep the fan running twice as long if I ever need to.
    I had been way behind on the laundry so I stayed up all night Friday to catch up. Because I was in the basement at the time the water softener was recharging, I learned that the very old sump pump doesn’t work when it should. Sigh. (So that’s why the floor is wet occasionally by the laundry tub.) I’ve emailed the plumber for an estimate for two repairs and am awaiting his response after he gets caught up with the crush of emergency repairs I am sure he is dealing with because of the excessive rain. It didn’t drop to 32 degrees in Flint (nearest major airport) until 6:30 p.m. Saturday, about 8 hours later than expected, so a major ice storm did not occur. I doubt anybody was upset with the forecasters–they had made it clear there was uncertainty about where the freezing line would set up.
    To celebrate my first social security check, I gave myself permission for a mini splurge. Among other purchases, I took advantage of Hickory Farms clearance and free shipping offers and sent some relatives sausage and cheese gifts. The gifts were 66% off before free shipping was taken into account. One relative is dealing with a chronic illness (She needs the calories.) and the other two are having out-of-town visitors shortly. I also cashed in my Microsoft rewards points and Swagbucks points for Walmart gift cards that I am emailing to another relative who found herself off work because of health issues. $35 won’t go far at all for a family of four, but it will help a bit.
    Now I am back in fiscally-prudent mode, which is where I intend to stay. So I will be carefully reading all of your posts for encouragement.

  8. I also planted peas in the garden over the weekend, though forgot to add it to my post. It may be too early, but it often happens that they don’t do much of anything before it gets too hot here. The seeds were given to me last week, so I won’t be out anything but my time if they don’t do. They were a type that can be planted with colder ground temperature, so we’ll see. I contacted amazon about a .99 error on their part, and was rewarded with a $5 credit. A $25 GC was redeemed through swagbucks. I bought a mango for .49 and some grapefruit for .49 at Aldi. Yogurt and bird suet were made. Next year’s Christmas cards were bought at 70% off. I planted 60 tulip bulbs a neighbor gave me. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/01/love-peace-frugal-accomplishments.html

    1. Laurie,
      I wanted to mention that I love reading about your calm life! I can’t comment on your blog, or any others, just this one. (I don’t know why. I use my gooooogle account, or not, nothing works except here.) You have such interesting meals, using unusual plants. Or, plants I’ve not eaten before. I looked up a book on lichens after reading about them on your blog. Dying with them seems like something I’d like to learn. So, thank you for your blog! I’m learning quite a bit from you!

  9. I’m making a house warming basket. Picked up a carving set after Christmas($3), roll of paper towels(.55¢), 3pkg of bar soap($1), bottle of laundry soap(?, It was cheap), plan on making pot holders and coasters. Have a basket that I painted and some cellophane I picked up at Christmas for gift trays. It should be nice and it didn’t cost too much.

    I had the extra laundry detergent because a couple of years ago I decided to quit using our expensive brand on stuff that don’t matter. So dish towels and dog items or what doesn’t matter gets the cheap stuff. This has made my other brand last longer.

    Got $10 off $20 from staples. Bought tax program and paper.

    Joined my old frugal group, this interaction helps me stay in saving mode.

    1. CC: Sounds like a lovely collection of gifts, and they will think of you when they use them.
      One of my favorite gifts for housewarming, or new baby, or hostessing, is trash stickers. If your community uses stickers on the trash cans to pay for pick-up, or requires specially marked trash bags, adding a few of those is good for a laugh, and you know they will get used.

      1. We don’t use stickers, we pay the city every month even if we have no pick up. I forgot to add I have a free box of trash bags for the basket, had them for awhile and never used them. I use grocery bags for trash.

    2. The basket sounds lovely! I never thought of that with the laundry detergent! My regular is Seventh Generation, which is somewhat expensive but good for our skin and non-toxic. But I could wash the cleaning rags and dog stuff in the cheap detergent! Thanks for mentioning that. As for your old frugal group, would you mind sharing the name if it is something I could join?

      1. Yeah I wish I’d thought of the laundry soap idea sooner. I mostly wash throw rugs, dish towels, napkins, placemats, dog items and cleaning rags. It has saved me a bit over time.

        -The group is Maxine’s, who posts here. She mentioned it last week. I’ll copy what she wrote, I hope Brandy doesn’t mind. –

        “Max 7 JAN 2020
        Well, if Brandy doesn’t mind me adding a link, this is it: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefrugalistafiles/the-frugalista-files-f500426/ It is called the Frugalista Files and has been around (with a few different names) for over 25 years. One of the original posters, Glenda, is still with us! It is currently the least active it has been in the 21 years I’ve been there, but a few new posters would soon take care of that! Please join us!”

  10. This past week I was very busy cooking to share with family and friends who needed it. I love to do that, it’s one of my favorite things. This week was crazy because so many needed a meal during the same week. I cooked a turkey and a ham. I made quite a few other things, including fried rice, muffins, salads, and more, which I put on my blog: http://beckyathome.com.

    The most frugal part was that I was able to pull so much of it from my freezers and pantry, and only had to buy a few things at the store.

    We had a family birthday party for my husband, niece and nephew. Everyone brought food to share, and my nephew’s Sunday school teacher arranged for someone dressed as Chewbacca, from Star Wars, to come visit during the normal family Sunday meal. Jake was amazed, and happy! My sister sneaked the man and his companion into the back room so he could change, and we all distracted Jake while Chewy got ready, then out he came, led by the lady. Jake was super surprised to see Chewbacca in his living room! The Sunday school teacher had a blast, took lots of pictures, and stayed for lunch with us all. It was fun for everyone. There are a few pictures of that on my blog, too. It really was amazing what a great job the man did.

    I’ve been making a lot of soup, as well, and some of mine looks a lot like yours, Brandy! It’s so good this time of year. I’ve started making my seed order list, as well. As I watch the rain pour down without ceasing, I always love thinking ahead to the gardening days ahead. My part of Oregon wouldn’t stay green without all this rain, so I welcome it, but it’s not fun to go out in, and there has been so much lately that there is standing water in my yard in places, and they say it may snow next week, a rare occurrence. So, I’m a ways off from planting anything, but I love to dream.

    I’ve been using my membership at the Kroc center quite a bit. We are still on deep scholarship from the YMCA, and this is where our membership has been transferred to while they work on constructing a new Y. It’s therefore, not expensive, and gives me a place to exercise during these rainy days. I’ve been trying different swimming classes, or riding stationary bikes. During a recent, more peppy class than I’d taken before, I felt my swim skirt start to slide downward during one of the more energetic moves–Yikes! So, I grabbed that skirt with one hand, and keep exercising with the other! It soon behaved once we moved on to another exercise, whew! Although she didn’t even know about the incident, my sister decided to order me a new swim skirt, a size smaller. Thank goodness! That was a very kind gift and much appreciated! It’s good to know the increased exercise is having a result, though:). She gave it to me yesterday, and I plan to put it on tomorrow morning first thing and head on down to the pool with my autistic niece, as we do on most Tuesdays. There is a very gentle class that she will participate in, if I go in with her. So, I do. It’s win-win, and never boring around here:)

  11. We sold 5 things this week, helping us fit better into our downsized new-to-us house. I still don’t have places for everything though. I have a few things listed sell still and Habitat Restore is picking up old bathroom fittings tomorrow.
    I picked up lemons from a free box when I walked to the post office.
    I tried my daughter-in-law’s sourdough bread recipe. It didn’t turn out great (hers is beautiful and delicious). My husband will happily eat it anyway.
    After working all last week on house projects/organizing/de cluttering, this week is a sewing week/get the house cleaned for people coming to stay next week. It should be a lighter week.
    Bought dish soap, toilet cleaner and trash bags at Target to get the $15 gift card when you spend $50.

    I am tracking all of the things I sell and things I save on. I think I undervalue all of the efforts that I make.

    Though on a funny note, sometimes I am too frugal and here’s an example. I use a spaghetti scrubber to do dishes. It’s biodegradable and made of coconut husk (I think). Anyway, it doesn’t last forever and it gets increasingly small as it gets used. But I don’t notice it because it happens so gradually. I usually use 2 per year but this year with the move, my extra was packed. So I used one for a year. I got a new one out yesterday and it was AWESOME. So big, and makes dishes so much easier (no dishwasher here). I told my son how wonderful it was and he said ‘some things are just worth it. We don’t use ours longer than 2 months’.
    So I am going to be kinder to myself in some things and not make life hard.

  12. We had the realtor come by last week to look at our home and give us an evaluation before putting it on the market. They suggested we paint two of the rooms and give a fresh coat of epoxy paint to the laundry and storage downstairs. I have enough primer to start painting the rooms and did so, but did need to buy a couple of gallons of paint. One room is nearly completed–one more coat should do it, and I’ll start the second bedroom likely the end of this week. I also have some old cans of paint that I can get rid of (I need to look where I can dispose it) but do have some on hand for touch up for worn areas in my house. I thought I would need to get drapes, but the realtor thinks out house looks good and need minimal staging.
    *In preparation to paint the first room, my studio, I was able to get rid of a large bag of my husband’s clothes, and some art supplies to donate that I no longer use. I took a backseat load to a local thrift store and once I get everything moved back into my studio, I’ll take the remaining items to a local craft thrift store.
    *I’ve enjoyed the challenge of using items out of my pantry for cooking rather then needing to move them. We have started to drink our bottled water supply. While I had putting all of those plastic bottles in the landfill, water is heavy to move and I will replace the water once we have moved. I’ve also cooked French toast, porridge, lasagna, corn and potato chowder, jackfruit sliders, and smoothies out of what I had on hand.
    *I continue to purge, use what I have, borrow books from the library, and not spend where I don’t need to. I like the feeling I have when I lighten up my life like this.
    *May all of you have a glorious week.

  13. Congrats on the great tomato sauce buy. It’s an amazing price!

    I caught a cold and have spent the last week laying low getting better. I start radiation therapy shortly and need to be well. It’s very much been a “hurry up and wait” situation. I’ve watched TV and read quite a bit. Unfortunately, I did munch my way through the week. Doctors will be happy I haven’t lost weight. Ugh!

    Again we were able to get a bit of good food from the expired table. This is the last week I will be able to get to the expired food table for a month, so I brought back some extra rolls. I also took all of the bruised apples and, adding in those from the week before, am making applesauce in the slow cooker to can. I dehydrated some celery that was getting old. We have been eating leftovers up…especially the meat. It has made for some interesting meals. The case lot peaches were so good that we bought 2 more cases while they are so very inexpensive.

    I finally paid for a domain and website at extreme discount. I am set for three years. At that point, I’ll decide if I intend to continue along these lines. I think 3 years is a reasonable amount of time to see if this is something I wish to do longterm.

    Our goal continues to be to prepare ourselves for possible less than optimal conditions. We have some work to do and being continually extra frugal for the foreseeable future is the only way to go. We’ve taken some financial hits and are recovering. This group is a godsend.

    Blessings to all.

    1. Trish, during particularly hard times, I like to say I live life in 5 minute increments (in my mind, I can handle anything for 5 minutes) It seems to help the spirit. I continue to raise you in prayer. Grace always.

      1. I like your 5 minute incremental survival scheme. I’m going to pass that on to a friend who is grieving the loss of her dog.

  14. I too made Turkey noodle soup this past week. I love reading people’s comments and have gotten some great ideas on saving money. Last summer I gave my son who lives in northern California a blackberry start. The other day he called saying it didn’t look so good. We are wondering if it’s just going dormant for a while. Do anyone know I’m in Colorado where mine goes dormant until spring. I always learn garden tips from you. Thanks for making this wonderful community

    1. Yes, they go dormant! Also, the canes grow for two years. The first year they grow; the second year they fruit. Then that cane dies. Each year it makes new canes. You need to cut the dead canes back to the ground. Just don’t cut the living ones. If he’s not sure which, wait until they leaf out in spring.

  15. I saved money this week by:
    – Cleaning out our pantry and fridge and only shopping for things I may need to make meals out of what I have.
    – Using a $20 grocery store gift card and $7.97 in coupons for things we actually use for a total savings of $27.97.
    – Borrowed from the library and e-library for several books I’ve been wanting to read.
    – Canceled Amazon Prime, Apple Music Family subscription, and a few other paid memberships for content creators. It’s just not in the budget this winter.
    – Listed items for sale and sold one on the first day for $45.00.
    – Utilized gift cards to have a lunch date with my husband and my in-laws.
    – Repaired our humidifier instead of purchasing a new one.
    Have a great week!

  16. Jan 8- 13

    Brought lunches and snacks to work
    Free coffee at work
    Work ordered R a new computer(no OOP cost for us)
    R was offered the opportunity to apply for grant(income potential)
    Husband shaved his head/cut his hair at home
    Stayed out of thrift(my biggest temptation/diversion) and retail stores
    My mom and dad bought us dinner one night
    Spent time at my parents’ home and mom cooked dinner
    Stuck to my meal plan

    Husband and I met for a budget meeting- we used to do this weekly and have fallen out
    of the habit. I’d forgotten how helpful it is!
    Spent time de-cluttering and organizing(helps to keep me from snacking/scrolling
    mindlessly and thinking of things we “need” to buy)
    Asked for reimbursement from work for several items
    Asked for stipend that was not reflected on this month’s paycheck
    Made new candles from ends of used ones with glass containers and a package of
    wicks(purchased with 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby)
    Accepted freebie gift bag at Walmart Pickup
    Used cash for all purchases(getting back into the habit of this is HARD)
    Applied for grant at work
    Had a surprise of snow! Dug out the sleds and took advantage of the free fun
    Free lunch at work
    Researched med insurance refunds and asked for refund that was overlooked

  17. I have started 2020 as a no buy year for non-consumable categories – clothes, jewelry, books, magazines and household items (decorative items, linens, furniture, etc but not toilet paper). I am motivated by a desire to have a smaller footprint using resources. I am allowing myself to purchase used items in the no-buy categories or to make items from materials I already have and also to accept gifts. I just can’t buy new stuff. I am allowing myself to buy gifts for others new- but I am trying to make or buy second hand for the gift category when possible. I am also trying to eliminate trash as much as possible by buying food in bulk, using fabric napkins and towels, using silicone mats for baking instead of foil or parchment paper, etc. I have watched a number of YouTube videos to get both inspiration and practical ideas for these goals.

    So far I have bought a few gift items such as $12 worth of socks marked down to $2 as a gift for DD and a clearance polo shirt (school uniform) for DGS. Many of the YouTubers I have watched talk about how a no buy year really changed their lives so I am not sure what I will experience. I am not a shopaholic or an impulse buyer but I do enjoy walking through stores, the mall, the downtown area just to see what is going on. (I rarely buy anything.) So will I have an epiphany? I don’t know.

    We have decided to become a one car family since we are retired and have very few occasions when DH and I need to go to different places at the same time. In fact this has happened one time in a year and we can work around that. We are giving our older but still reliable vehicle to our DD and her family as they need another car at this time. We will spend less for insurance, license tag, and personal property tax and the car will be used by someone who needs it rather than sitting in the garage much of the time.

    1. We have been a one-car family for 15 years now. We’re getting to a point where it would be really helpful to have another vehicle, but we have done fine without another for all these years.

      You can find cloth napkins at garage sales and thrift stores. I found most of ours that way. Once those finally wore out, I bought some new ones on Amazon, though it took around ten years, using them three times a day.

      I love using silicone baking mats rather than foil and parchment paper. I only use foil when baking turkeys to tent the top.

      We use cloth for cleaning and it works well. We also use cloth towels to dry our hands.

      I’m at a point where I’m needing to buy some items new, so I’ve been carefully thinking over exactly which items I need in clothing and for our home. I still have a few more things to figure out (I’m currently looking for a new pair of black shoes and I wear a wide, so my choices for what I want are limited), but then I should be mostly set for many years.

      1. Unfortunately for me I think the word is out on using cloth dinner napkins I use to be able to find a lot at our local thrift store but not anymore may have to look at other places I won’t buy them new. I had a friend who used cheap wash cloths for dinner napkins for her large family not sure I want to do that but versus buying new dinner napkins I may have to. She bought the cheap ones like 20 in a pkg for $5 at Walmarts.

        1. These are the ones I bought new. They hold up really well and don’t wrinkle as they are polyester. I use dark colors for every day because then I don’t have to use stain remover. https://amzn.to/2TmLi9y

        2. I have gotten most of my cloth napkins from yard sales. I always seem to find beautiful holiday ones. We use them all year long. The kids don’t mind Halloween napkins in March. The most I have paid was $3 for 12 Easter napkins and they came with the rings too.

        3. I got my cloth napkins at Bed Bath and Beyond with coupons plus clearance prices. Right after Thanksgiving (and Easter) they usually have a ton.

        4. If you have sewing skills you could use old tablecloths, sheets or even fabric scraps and make your own.

          1. I have been considering using old sheets to make up a bunch of cloth napkins as well. I also use leftover cotton material that is just big enough to make a napkin out of, but too small for any other project I would make. Needless to say, we have a hodgepodge of cloth napkins on hand, lol!
            I’ve been using cloth hankies as well, instead of buying disposable tissues. I know some might think this is icky but I wash them with my other whites with a titch of bleach so I’m okay with it.
            I remember my mama carrying around a dampened washcloth in a plastic baggie when my brother and sister were babies to use to wipe them of any messes (sticky faces and hands) when we would be out and about. She probably did with me as well since I’m assuming disposable baby wipes weren’t invented yet.
            It’s almost hard to imagine a time without disposable…well…everything(!), and no electrical washer and dryer to clean all those reusable things!

          2. Yes, I was thinking the same thing! I just made myself some kitchen towels this week out of some dropcloth fabric I had from a failed dropcloth curtain project.
            Been knitting some of these great dishclothes too.
            They are inexpensive, make nice gifts and very quick and easy to knit! I gave a bunch to my mom for her birthday.
            Brandy-Your soup is so beautiful and I bet it was delicious!

    2. Wyoming Gal- We also like to rid ourselves of many disposable products as much as we can (still have a long way to go!). Besides the silicone baking mats that we love, I also use individual silicone baking cups (cupcake/muffin wrappers) I just put the number I need on my cookie sheet or brownie pan and fill them and bake them that way! No need for the paper wrappers which could stick to the muffin or cupcakes! I did find that there is one brand I prefer. It seems to be better at non-stick than some of the others (although the others still work well). It is Chicago Metal brand (don’t know why! There’s no metal in it! Lol!) I got mine on Amazon. You can use Brandy’s Amazon link on this site!
      We also have used cloth napkins for years, flannel “Softies” that I make to replace Kleenex that are easier on the nose than plain cotton hankies.
      We use re-useable mason jars for canning as well as vacuum sealing dry items to store on our shelves (like rice). I make bowl covers to use rather than Saran Wrap and most of our landscaping/home reno projects are using up recycled goods.
      We make our own seasoning mixes in bulk and store in jars rather than buying individual packets from the store- taco seasoning, chili seasoning, Ranch dressing/dip mix, dry onion soup mix, etc! Saves money and environment!
      Still lots of things we could and hopefully will incorporate into our lives to become better stewards over our resources and the environment, but it’s a start!
      Well done on your efforts!!

      1. Pat,

        I have long wondered about the silicone baking cups. I grease my muffin pans and only use wrappers for when I put fruit in them, need to take them somewhere, or for a party when they are cupcakes. Does your batter stick to the cups? Do you find them tedious to clean? A friend of mine recently posted online that cleaning muffin tins is the worst thing to wash in the kitchen, and I have to agree. I feel like washing the liners would be double the work and use a lot more soap and water. I usually bake 24-30 muffins at a time for our family. Tell me how this works for you.

        1. I love my silicone muffin cups. I run them through the dishwasher. Occasionally I still need to hand wipe a couple if stuff is stuck to them, but a 5 minute soak in hot water should loosen everything enough to come off easily by hand or int he dishwasher. I loathe cleaning a muffin tin, but the silicone cups aren’t bad. They’re also great for cooking little egg veggie cups, mini quiches.

        2. Hi

          I don’t know if this helps but I have used the silicone cups for ages. They don’t tend to stick and as for cleaning- I turn them inside out in the dishwasher. They squish into almost no space in the dishwasher. When baking I put them inside the metal trays- helps to keep shape although probably not necessary.

        3. I have been curious about silicone baking products but am too concerned about the health ramifications of what the heat might be releasing into the foods. Admittedly, I haven’t researched the subject yet. I refuse to cook in plastic as well so, I’m not just zeroing in on silicone. I would love to have the savings from using it definitely, so since I see so many of you using them, I will definitely look into it this week!

        4. I have fiesta wear dishes and like to get the new colors in ramekins. This is what I bake muffins in. I always hated cleaning the muffin pan, these clean up great. The ramekins make double muffins and clean up well. I even bake in the tea cup if I have too much batter. It seems that all the fiesta wear can be baked. Also we use the ramekins as snack bowls so they do double duty.
          There are only two of us and a large pie is too much I also have two small pie baker. I later bought fruit dishes which bakes an individual pie.
          Most of my fiesta wear was bought at Kohls using their cash plus discounts.

        5. Brandi- I find that the silicone baking cups ARE definitely a breeze to clean up afterwards! So much easier than the muffin pans! I have never put them in the dishwasher. Didn’t know if they could or not. Reading the other comments, apparently they can!
          I wash mine in a sudsy sink when I’m washing other non-dishwasher things. I just turn them inside out and swoosh them in the sink with my hands and they are ready to be rinsed and dry. So simple. Cupcakes and muffins never stick to them, in my experience! And you don’t find used paper wrappers in places other than the wastebasket! I’m a believer!! Lol!

    3. There are several women here who are trying to totally eliminate plastic, in honor of the billions of tons we toss into our oceans every year.
      I picked up a good idea here, to make covers for the dishes in fridge, rather than using plastic wrap, we have become SO used to that item haven’t we? I did grow up before the Age of Plastic, but still having problems dreaming up replacements for a lot: shampoo bottles, garbage bags (hope to find a cheaper replacement than the biodegradable brown paper, its very costly here.
      slowly as it goes, if anyone has other good tips on this topic I’d love to read them.
      ann lee s

      1. For garbage bags I use whatever comes in my house. I use dog food bags(my sister gives me hers too), plastic wrap from large packs of toilet paper, plastic that comes on Hubby’s dry cleaning(I tie one end), we got new pillows and I used the plastic they came wrapped in. In the spring I use the bags that the fertilizer and lime come in. I just look at everything and say”what can I reuse this on?” I use all smaller packing as poop bags to clean up after the dogs. If it enters my house, I reuse it before it goes in the garbage.

      2. Ann Lee, check janitorial supply stores, or wholesale stores that are open to the public, to see if they sell shampoo in 1 gallon jugs. I know you can get gallons of shampoo online, but then you have to pay to ship 8 lbs. Decant it into smaller shampoo bottles. I buy Head & Shoulders in 40 ounce bottles at Costco and it lasts a long time. If I could get a gallon locally, I would.

      3. Anna,
        We are trying to do this too. We imperfectly(just started a couple of weeks ago) stopped using trash bags. I was attempting to buy castile soap in bulk to use for shampoo but it is a fortune. Lush, Whole Foods and a local grocery store has Shampoo bars without packaging, I plan to use these once we run about of that amazing amount of shampoo that I currently have. I buy flour in paper bags in bulk at a local restaurant supply store. We make our own coffee/drinks/food to go in reusable containers.

        The hardest for me is stuff like sour cream, cream cheese, tofu, etc. Always in plastic. I plan on making homemade tofu but not sure about the other items. I stopped shopping at Costco because of all the plastic.

  18. I purchased gas from Sam’s since I was nearby saving .16 a gallon over nearby gas stations

    My mom sent over some clementines and cookies she didn’t want. I also made potato soup at her house and she sent over what she wouldn’t eat(she kept 2 bowls worth).

    I didn’t buy anything extra for desserts as we still had stuff from Christmas and birthday cake and ice cream from the 3rd.

    Continue to use grocery pick up for my big weekly haul. Yesterday I got a goody bag with some great items. There was a full roll of Cottonelle toilet paper, a sample pack of flushable wipes, an individual box of special k cereal, a listerine ready tabs full size product, a gains laundry pod, gains fireworks laundry refresher, a broccoli and sweet potato sipping soup, and a jif power ups cluster snack pack.

    Turned heat off for 2 days as temperatures reached mid 60s

    Rented a redbox movie with a .75 off code

    The weather was awful this weekend so only got out to drop off and pick up the boy from work

  19. I guess the biggest thing I did to save money is that I did an IRA for the year. I also added to savings. I am kinda concerned that I only have four months of emergency savings and feel like I need to concentrate on adding money to this.

  20. Your soup looks delicious! This was my week–
    * Bulk section buys at Winco–dried mustard, cumin and pinto beans. Also at Winco, I  bought Christmas cards, for 75% off or $1.24 box. No gift wrap or ribbon because we may never use up what we already have.
    * I got a $15 GC for buying $50 worth of home products at Target. Don’t laugh, I bought toilet paper! LOTS of toilet paper! (Scott 1,000 sheets). The GC went in my gift stash. Sometimes I use the cards to buy gifts, other times I just give the card. Best of all, we aren’t going to run out of TP anytime soon! (There was a robot at last week’s electronics show in Vegas that fetches a new roll of TP. That’s what we need, LOL!)
    * We saw Midway at the $3 cinema. Arguably the biggest sea battle of WW2. Fantastic special effects.
    * Someone who is moving to Arizona gave me an unopened pound of Jarlsberg cheese, most of a big pack of biscotti and two boxes of dog treats. I peeled the label off the clear square plastic jar the biscotti came in and I am using it to store nuts in my pantry. I heated the label with a hairdryer and it peeled right off.
    * Betty White is 98 years old this month!
    * Found a dime!
    * I cut rags from old towels. I went around the raw edges (which would have raveled) with the overcast stitch of my sewing machine.
    * Last week I ordered $180 worth of OTC drugs and equipment using  the $60 (x3) OTC benefit of our Medicare Advantage plans. The 2020 benefit is $40 per quarter. Last week, at no cost to me, I ordered $39 worth of goods we may need in the next few months.

    1. Maxine,
      I had to chuckle about your Betty White comment. Just yesterday, I looked her up on yooootuuube and spent about 30-40 minutes laughing at some of her antics. She’s a stitch and I needed a giggle so it was a win/win. Like minds and all that!

  21. Our Costco has stopped carrying tomato sauce. They weren’t sure if it was permanent or temporary when I asked.
    My frugal things –
    I brought breakfast and lunch to work every day last week.
    We finished up our turkey noodle soup.
    I was able to get gas for 80¢ off per gallon with rewards from Fred Meyer.
    My DH cooked dinner one night after I got home from work cold and tired. He retired about 2 years ago. He made breaded chicken, and steamed mixed veggies. The veggies were some I had frozen last year from our garden. The chicken was some I got when I had a $7.00 free meat coupon from Safeway, and the chicken was B1G1F packages. They were the really thinly sliced BLSL chicken breasts.
    Butter was on a one day sale for $1.99/lb. There was a limit of two. I drive by the store each day to and from work – so got 4.
    Got wrapping paper 90% off at Fred Meyer. Picked some that were metallic, but not at all Chistmasy. Will use for weddings in the next couple of years.
    Fred Meyer also had a promotion going for 33% off all their Ortega branded items. Additionally they had $1.00 off 2 coupons hanging by the Ortega items. Got 6 cans of chilis (4 oz each) for 36¢ each. I use these in pozole and homemade mexicorn. Also got 4 packages of taco shells – the 10 packs of the extra large shells for 62¢ each.
    Did my Mom’s shopping on the way to work on Friday and dropped it off. We were supposed to have snow all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so wanted to get it done early. We had the snow on Friday and Sunday – but Saturday was okay.
    Cleaned my kitchen counters again on Saturday. Putting away all the used and cleaned jars and other containers. I am going to try and do this each week. My kitchen is small so it helps.
    Made homemade cauliflower cheese soup with cauliflower and onions from the garden. Also used some of my 99¢ per package o f cheese. It is so good.
    Got zucchini in the ugly produce area of the store. 4 small ones for $1.00. These will go in the stir fry tonight.
    Went to the library and checked out two books on CD to listen to on my way to work.
    I am tracking my spending every day. I have started a countdown calendar to retirement (16 months) and want to know what I typically spend. Then will go through and see what I spend because I work (like extra gas). I have found that I don’t buy certain things, just because I don’t want to write it down. Helps me stay on target.

  22. Fairbanks has been cold since Christmas. I spent lChristmas in Kaktovik. On Christmas Day there is a Whaler’s feasr where a share of whale is passed out. I knew someone who wanted muktuk so I brought some back. She works at a local Fred Meyer, so we finally connected. Her excitement usA friend’s feel like Christmas! We saved enough to bring to worship one week so people can try it. It isn’t bad with salt. A friend’s 2 year old loves it and eats it with both hands. Since I am never home for Christmas, we do very little ourselves. I was able to go out for oje day of after-Christmas sales which made me feel like l had a chance to save some money on luxuries.
    Kaktovik (on a barrier island north of the mainland) was also very cold. It was -31 actual temperature and between -51 to -60 wijdchill. The hotel was also very cold, 60.4 when I left. We got off the plane in a ground blizzard and left in another. We had uce fiog last week so my husband worked from home as the roads were not safe.
    Definitely not frugal, but a need was purchasing 3 new cellphones. Our adult son lives with us and we need to be able to reach him. Yesterday he started chicken bones and onions simmeing for chicken and dumplings. It is an easy comfort food when the chicken legs are deboned ahead of time.
    Keep warm everyone! Again, thanks Brandy for this blog. I so appreciate learning new ideas and the fellowship of like minded friends!

  23. Great sales! I checked the Lake Mead water level at http://mead.uslakes.info/level/ and it looks like Lake Mead’s water level went up about 8 feet since December 1.

    I was not planning on doing any grocery shopping but wanted some fresh vegetables and am happy I took the time to go to Aldi’s because I found 2 organic whole chickens marked down 50% and bought them for $1.25 pound. That’s a great price for organic chickens and although I don’t buy whole chickens that frequently because I prefer white meat, at that price I have things I can make with dark meat, too.

    I needed to make room in the freezer for the chicken so I took out some blueberries and cherries and dehydrated them. I’ll use the blueberries in scones and muffins after plumping them in water and will put the cherries in salads or just eat them by themselves.

    Our weather has been so nice lately that I have not had to use heat for the last 5 days. In fact, I wore sundresses on Saturday and Sunday because it was so warm. I’ve checked my smart meter usage tool online and I’m running about 60-70 kWh below the same period last year. Our electricity is less expensive than some other areas due to being in a co-op, but it’s still a savings of $7 or so for the month.

    Have a wonderful, blessed week everyone.

  24. We have experienced horrible storms and rain here . I’m always so grateful that no damage to my house has occured. It’s not uncommon for tornadoes to come near here each year. It’s a value reminder to keep my house insurance. I recently cut my hair shorter. As my medical problems have become worse ,it fell mostly out. My stylist shaved it all off at no charge. I’ve never cared for my hair short but there is a bright side. As it grows in ( hopefully) it will be all white. I’m constantly cold. I bought a set of ear warmers and a year planner online. I looked at the thrift store but they didn’t have any. My very next trip , I found exactly what I wanted. I promptly returned the other items to Amazon. My memory problems are a constant battle. I’m setting up a year planner that fully incorporates our entire life. I found several items in my desk to use including an undated set of refill pages for the year planner. I’m locked out of my very old PayPal account. Instead of beating my head against the wall, I just opened up a new one. I’ve set up an account for couponing and plan on resuming that money saving activity. It will be mainly for free items and give sugar cookie to do ONE day each week. I found baby Henry a Little Tyke toy box for $5.00 . I also searched amongst the clothing and found two athletic style t shirts to wear to the walking track. I have two stores close by but we rarely go there. I must remember to check them for the items on our need list occasionally. I drove into the city with an empty tank of gas. Thankfully I knew where I was and was able to get to a gas station. I found gasoline to be $1.00 more per gallon than 60 miles away at my house. I put three gallons in the car , enough to get me home. I promptly came home and filled it up and saved a few dollars. I must remember to not let that happen again. I used a coupon for a free birthday meal at Zaxbys to get sugar cookie lunch. I bought beef bones to make my own broth. I’ve been enjoying the Disney channel. National geographic shows hold my attention and are like arm chair traveling.

    1. Lillianna, I agree the National Geographic shows are like getting to travel alongside them! I also like some of the shows on the Discover channel. We even use one show (Expedition Unknown) as a homeschool resource.

      1. I like Expidition Unknown, as well, for the same reason–it’s a good way to see the world. I also find a show called “Extinct or Alive” to be quite informative as they search different parts of the world for animals that may or may not actually be extinct. I like seeing the different places they travel, whether or not they find any animals. One DVD from the library I recently had my daughter watch for home-school was a fairly old Michael Palin documentary where he tried to go around the world in 80 days without flying. It was several hours long, and I did not personally see the end, so I don’t know if he made it. But, it did show quite a few interesting spots where he was traveling. It seemed to me like it was taken during the 80’s sometime, so there are things that have changed even since it was made.

  25. Brandy,
    Congrats on the great price for the tomato sauce!
    My husband had said that he got several tips this year when delivering his Christmas wreaths. He said several people tipped because they like the quality of the product so much and know it is so much nicer than what they could purchase elsewhere (because they are fresh). He said he saved all the tip money and wanted to use it to go out for a nice dinner as a reward for all our hard work with the Christmas business.
    We used the money this weekend by heading to the coast and having a very nice lunch at a winery. It was very enjoyable and by having lunch instead of dinner, it wasn’t that expensive.
    During our outing, we did a little shopping and I was able to purchase a nice, name brand button down long sleeve shirt for my adult son. He is very small and it is difficult to find dress shirts for him to wear to work. This one was on clearance for $6. He was thankful as his work wardrobe could use some help.
    This morning, my work started later than normal due to bad weather conditions so I was able to cook some beans I soaked last night so when I get home from work this evening I can easily make minestrone soup. I would have just used my slow cooker but I had loaned it out.
    Speaking of bad weather, we got a wind gust yesterday of probably 60 mph and it tore off part of the roof of my greenhouse and in the process broke one of my large expensive clay pots. Luckily, my husband was able to fix the roof. I am just happy our house and garage were not damaged.
    Wishing everyone a good frugal week.

  26. Holly – I don’t know if you Honey Baked Ham store where you are but they do sell ham bones for around $10.00. A friend does that and has found the bones have a lot of meat on them so takes that off and then makes ham and bean soup. Mary

  27. My main way of saving money is trying not to spend it. I have been staying home unless I absolutely have to go somewhere.
    I take my breakfast,lunch, and snacks to work with me from home. I usually eat my breakfast in the car on the way to work. We usually work 9 to 10 hour days and start anywhere from 4:45am -5:30am. I make my coffee at home and drink water the rest of the day. My employer has ice machines and a water count for us to use.
    I exchanged audio book cd’s at the library. I downloaded free books to my Kindle.
    I returned Christmas presents for my husband that was to small (shirts) and purchased a bigger size.
    I’ve been using reusable containers rather than buying Ziploc bags.I
    My mom and I share an Amazon account (it’s a legit thing)and split the cost. We are able to share books and keep everything else separate. She set it up through Amazon.
    A friend gave me 2 bags of clothes.
    We were given the option of leaving work early one day last week but I chose to stay.
    I switched to soap nuts for laundry and dish soap. This saves me time and money as well as reducing chemicals.
    I was able to take bereavement pay to take a day off of work due to a death in my husband’s family.
    I had two old kindles laying around. One was a reader only (1st generation) and the other I was using until my husband got me a new one for Christmas. I gave my mom the one I had been using because both her laptop and her Kindle quit working. I am sending the other one back to Amazon for recycling and got a $5 credit.
    Have a great week!

  28. Brandy, what a great deal on both the canned tomatoes and irrigation timer. And how lovely the nursery let you fill out the rebate there to save a trip. Those little money and time savers really add up. Plus, from a business standpoint, helps make you a more loyal customer when they do helpful customer service things like that. I always really appreciate fabulous customer service! We had a good week with some everyday frugal stuff that helped us inch along to our goals.
    *We stuck to our budget and made progress towards our financial goals for this year.
    *Used online bill pay to pay the 2 bills I have to write checks for and mail. This saved the cost of the checks, envelopes and stamps.
    *Came in under grocery budget so was able to divert that extra to other areas.
    *Redeemed $2.10 in Ibotta rebates for stuff I was already buying.
    *Sold 3 items and listed a book on Ebay.
    *Updated some items from the attic and decorated with a pastel drawing, framed art work and a lovely display of old tea cups.
    More on my blog here: https://www.cozyhomemaking.com/frugal-fun-homemaking-for-january-5-11-2019/

  29. Oh that soup looks really delicious. Brandy, you have a way to make your pictures come alive! We too have been affected by higher utilities. I’m am thinking of asking my neighbor if they want to share a small dumpster instead of paying two separate trash bills. Our trash is $78.70 every other month for 2 trashcans. It used to be up to 10 cans. Now it’s two trash, 1 recycling, and 2 green waste. We bought an Antenna off Amazon to get local channels. Husband hasn’t got around to putting it up yet. If it works well then we can get rid of Hulu +

    1. They changed it here to having to use city cans, and there is no green waste here. It wsa unlimited cans twice a week, but now it’s once a week and their cans. The price increases each year.

  30. Greetings from Michigan,
    I haven’t commented in awhile. I hope to get back in the swing of things.
    What a great price on sauce! That huge size would be impractical for the two of us. Although, I would have been tempted!
    My husband is still working on building new kitchen cupboards. While down state for Christmas, we visited Home Depot and picked out the handles. Four drawers are in and look amazing! The work is done when there’s time after ‘real’ work and some weekends. So, this may take some time, yet.
    I saved the shower water to use for flushing. I saved the egg water for washing dishes.
    I shopped at Aldi’s and saved quite a bit over our local store. The price difference is crazy on some items. Even with driving an hour away, it’s worth it. Plus, I always fill up when I go as gas prices are cheaper, too. Having said that, Aldi prices are going up.
    I take lunch to work.. My husband does, too.
    I was able to get one pound packages of ham for 1.00 lb. at a store near my son, over Christmas. We always take a cooler to fill. I also got my husband several packages of turkey. This store usually has quite a selection of snacks. So, of course I couldn’t leave without a few goodies! I picked up several packages of cookies for lunches and gifted some to the neighbor for getting our mail. All for 1.00 per package.
    I finally got around to de-constructing two wool sweaters for dryer balls. The balls of wool are ready for the hot bath. I probably won’t do the next step for many months.
    The shower liner was washed in cold and re-hung. Shower liners are getting expensive, too!
    I got a book on Pilates from the thrift store. I’ve added one of the moves to my morning routine. A friend gave me a stretchy band she gets at work that I use in a new stretch, too. And, I continue to walk every day with friends even when it’s below zero. It’s nice to have company.
    That’s all I can think of. I had notes but they got lost in one of my cleaning streaks. Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

  31. That is a great price on the sauce. I would have done the same thing. I got ground beef for $1.18 a pound today at Aldi. Every package had $7 off stickers on them. I bought all they had so a total of 32 pounds. Thankfully I made a turkey earlier in the week so I had plenty of room in the freezer.

  32. I’m not working at the moment so I’m able to stay home most days. That has led to a significant savings for us. However, the electric bill is slightly higher and it is to be expected.
    *I’ve line dried the laundry
    *I’ve made almost every meal from scratch
    *Still working on my pantry challenge and found recipes to use up what I have
    *I finished making a sweater
    *I’ve cleaned and decluttered!
    *I added some of my son’s jackets and coats to the donate pile
    *I’ve baked bread and found a new favorite recipe
    *I’ve made a couple pots of beans

  33. I continue canning everything I can get hold of cheap or free. Today I canned 8 pints of baked beans with bacon, have about that much more to do tomorrow.. I ran out of ketchup and mustard went to the store across the street to get more for tomorrows batch. I received a free head of cabbage last week will be dehydrating it tomorrow to add to soups along the way. We have curtailed our fast fooding to once a month the past 3 months by having meals on hand in my pantry of canning it’s easier to pop a jar open and have a meal than pay for fast food when we are tired. I got a recipe today for canning sweet and sour chicken in a jar so will be trying that next week. I have most of the ingredients on hand. I spend a lot of time on you tube studying canning recipes and watching frugal channels. you are never too old to learn.

  34. I have been making soups: split pea soup, cauliflower carrot curry soup, sausage soup with spinach and white beans. We found a nearby store that has wonderful discounts. We bought blueberries for 25 cents a box. Apples for 32 cents a lb, Salads for 69 cents a bag. chicken for 69 cents a lb. Deli sliced ham for 50 cents a lb. Sausage 99 cents a lb. Then I went to a different store and bought eggs for 58 cents a dozen. I bought 4 dozen at the price and saved a lot of money. I froze blueberries and bought lots of apples as I had room in the refrigerator.
    I have been losing weight and keeping my blood sugar numbers down. I am feeling pretty good, although I have been fighting a mild cold.
    Besides soups my husband has cooked salmon patties, tuna patties and I cooked chicken. He made a meatloaf one day when we had company and scalloped potatoes with green beans. We have eaten lots of salads and carrots and celery that were on sale recently.
    We have been using the library for movies, books and entertaining activities. I did buy a couple books at a used book store for my grandchildren, Made homemade ice-cream with my grandchildren. Borrowed curiosity boxes that had musical instruments, books and games. We had a lot of fun!
    Used the internet for entertainment, reading, recipes and information.
    Using the end of soap, toothpaste ect. Made my own vapor rub with coconut and essential oils. Using a foot rub with essential oils and coconut oil. Conditioned my hair with a bit of olive oil.
    Will be planning a garden for the spring. I need to go through seeds and decide what to buy and make a plan for planting.

    1. It sounds like your new discount store is wonderful. Congratulations on keeping your weight and blood sugar lower. Great progress.
      And your soups sound great! Stay warm, Ann

      P.S. You might put some vinegar and baking soda down your drain if you’re using olive oil.

        1. Hi Tammy,

          I have personal experience with olive oil and drains but easily fixed with hot water and vinegar and baking soda. Thanks for your wishes, Ann

  35. What a blessing that you were able to stock up on tomato sauce at such a great price. Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were soup with crusty bread and brownies, pork and veggie stirfry with yum yum sauce, ham sandwiches with homemade french fries, grilled chicken salads.
    *My mom gave us some sausage and pheasant that were given to her. We used the sausage along with eggs and biscuits for breakfast. We used the pheasant in a soup with leftover macaroni noodles she had given me along with leftover corn, diced tomatoes, green beans and veggie stock I made from scraps and herbs. The pheasant tasted similar to chicken. I made crusty French bread in the breadmaker to go along with the soup.
    *Ladies from our church went to see Little Women. We chose to go on Thrifty Tuesday, when tickets were only $8.
    *My husband had to go out of town on a business trip. His employer will reimburse us for the hotel room. I booked it through our Wyndham Rewards account to earn points. I also used our credit card to earn cash back. He brought back the coffee from his hotel room since he doesn’t drink it but I do. Lunch was provided and he also brought home an extra sandwich that was leftover. He received a nice shirt since he was in the top 3 of sales.
    *This isn’t necessarily frugal, but it will bring in more income…I’ve been off on Wednesdays for about 6 months but my assistant is leaving. I will be working Wednesdays in the near future to train a replacement and will be compensated for the extra day.
    *We are doing a slight remodel on our kitchen. It had pale green countertops and pickled cabinets, which are both in good shape, when we purchased our home. There was a rooster border and a wall of plaid wallpaper. We took down the border and wallpaper (using a mix of fabric softener and water, which worked wonders!) and have repainted the kitchen a pale green that’s a shade lighter than the countertops. We have also purchased a natural stone backsplash which has browns, greens, tans and copper in it and new flooring that has browns and tans. I’m hoping once we’re done it will be more to my taste. We also purchased a new full-glass back door for the kitchen to bring in more light. All of the items were purchased at a 20% discount.
    *My boss took myself and my husband out to dinner along with my assistant and her husband, as she is leaving the company. He chose the restaurant, which was about 40 minutes away from our home in a direction we don’t normally go. We stopped at a Kroger on the way back and picked up ground beef for $2.49/lb., butter for $2.99/lb., sour cream for $.89/16 oz., tuna for $.49/can and pasta for $.49/lb. We filled up with gas while at Kroger since it was cheaper than our town. We also stopped at a Dollar Tree and stocked up on toothpaste, floss, shaving cream, fish oil pills, nasal spray and bleach.
    *Accepted a breakfast sandwich, donut and ice cream sandwich from coworkers on different days.
    *Walked with a friend for free fellowship and exercise.
    *We had $37 left in our FSA from last year so I submitted a receipt for reimbursement from my appointment with the eye doctor.
    *Colored my own hair using 1/2 a dye kit and cut my bangs.
    *Scheduled 2 appts on the same day to save time and gas.

  36. FRUGAL
    * We discovered that all of the LeapFrog videos are available for free on the Roku Channel–my 3yo has been enjoying them all week. Leapfrog Letter Factory and Leapfrog Talking Words Factory taught my older kids reading fundamentals before they were in preschool so we were happy to find them again!
    * Did Walk to School Day with the big kid, the meetup point was a Starbucks so brought my own mug for the .10 cup discount.
    * Walked or biked to pick up the kid from school several times; this saves gas and wear on the car and is good for our physical fitness.
    * BUY NOTHING GROUP: 6 plastic chairs for use in our backyard and at parties, baby/toddler spoons for feeding the little guy.
    * Harvested tangerines, tomatoes and tree-collard leaves from our yard.
    * Did the laundry in cold water as usual; composted dryer lint as usual.
    * Used my Braun laser-hair-removal device at home, decreasing the cost-per-use of the machine and saving the expense of a med-spa visit
    * Made coffee at home in a French press several times and always rinsed out the coffee grounds to the mulch in the garden
    * Watered our trees with mop-bucket water and cooking water
    * Used free composted wood chips (delivered last year by ChipDrop) as potting soil for seedlings instead of buying a bag of something
    * Checked out an ebook from our library using the Overdrive app and Kindle reader
    * Planted garlic cloves on our new side-yard planting beds–this area had been covered in concrete since I moved in 15 years ago. This past year we could finally afford to have it demolished in conjunction with replacing the terrible old concrete patio with a redwood deck. This area does get sun but does not (yet?) suffer from pocket gophers so I’m hopeful it will be useful for planting more edibles.
    * A friend gave us lemons off their tree when we visited their new home for a housewarming celebration.
    * Bought paint rollers and painting trays in bulk on Amazon for cheaper than at the local painting supply store.
    * My mother gifted us some zaatar spice mix that she had left over from several Blue Apron meals.
    * Went to a free talk at a local nature center; the Audubon Society brought in a gentleman who shared his research on the local bat species.

    1. I know it is late not, but if you decide to put in raised beds of any kind there, you could line the beds with the square wire mesh stapled to the bottoms to keep the gophers from digging up through them. I have heard of others using this method.

    2. Hi Jen,
      I am curious to know more about your Braun hair removal device. Is it something that can permanently remove hair? I know it depends what phase of growth the hair is in as to whether it will be permanently removed (at least that is what they told me at the spa). As someone who has now gone through menopause I am finding these annoying hairs are getting hard to keep up with using tweezers only. 🙂 Also I can’t afford to keep going to the spa. This sounds like it might be a better alternative if it really works. Thank you.

      1. Yes it removes it permanently but you have to do several treatments. I find it works best if I shave and then do the laser thing within 24-48 hours later, just as the hair is coming up again. It doesn’t work on gray hairs at all LOL. But it does improve things.

        1. Thanks for the information, Jen. I was looking at them online and now wondering which one you have. It seems they offer a few different ones. If you happen to see this and wouldn’t mind sharing the one you are using I would appreciate it. Thank you.

  37. I read a heap of books and one of the best ones lately was The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. A beautiful story about the secret meanings behind Australian flowers. Not sure how hard it would be to find in the States but well worth the search

  38. We had quite a few bills go up the first of the year as well — health insurance, garbage pickup and mortgage are three that come to mind. But the good Lord provides.
    I made a big batch of hamburger buns and another of black bean burgers – enough for several meals. This was my first time making the burgers and they came out well.
    I cleaned out the produce drawer of my refrigerator. I rescued a green pepper and a zucchini that were starting to get wrinkly. I chopped the pepper and shredded the zucchini and froze them for use in future recipes.
    I had to buy a new battery for my car. It would not start the morning I had to leave to go out of town. My husband jumped it, I drove to the auto parts and they installed the new battery for me. I am so, so grateful this happened in my own garage with my husband there, instead of, for instance, at a rest stop in the back of beyond on the way to my out of town meeting. Our very cold weather lately takes its toll on batteries.
    I had my quarterly meeting out of town. As usual, I took food for the meals that aren’t included. On the way home I stopped by Costco and stocked up on dog food and other things we find cheaper there. I did buy one meal over the five days — and ate half of it for lunch the next day.

    1. Here, it is the heat that kills batteries. In the middle of summer, the batteries just die. As uncomfortable as it is when it’s 115 degrees out, I can see how much worse that would be in the cold!

      1. When I lived in Texas, my rear view mirror would have the glue melt from the heat and the mirror would just fall off! The garage man said it happened all the time, but having grown up in Michigan I had never experienced a falling mirror before!

  39. Brandy well done on getting the tinned tomato sauce for so much cheaper and what a great friend to let you know they were on clearance and I hope they are not getting rid of the larger size altogether. I am glad you were also able to get your plants, drip irrigation timer and your new camera lens so much cheaper so you can further your photography business.

    Our savings last week added up to $58.13 :).

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked a double batch of coconut and chocolate chip biscuits and made a lemon cheesecake saving $26.80 over purchasing them.
    – Cooked all meals from scratch. Well mainly had precooked roast meats we had in the freezer with homemade pasta salad.

    Purchases –
    – On markdown we purchased 4 x 6 pk of hamburger buns and 1 x 6 pk of wholemeal buns saving $3.70 on usual prices.
    – Bought 2 x shampoo on special saving $0.60c on usual prices.

    Finances and listings –
    – Listed 10 items on an eBay free listing promotion saving $16.50 on usual prices.
    – Banked a fair bit more money into our 3 month living expenses emergency kitty bringing us to 19.54% of the way there after buying our 2 home air conditioners + installation.

    Gardening –
    – Weeded one garden bed late one evening.
    – Harvested cherry tomatoes and a beetroot from the gardens.

    Water preservation –
    – Used all our grey water/dish rinsing water to water potted fruit, established berry and fruit trees and ornamental shrubs around the home.
    – Used all shower warm up water to fill up drink bottles and to clean around the home.

    Have a great week :).


  40. Hello to all from southeastern Pa., I’m with Mandy my best way of saving is making that effort not to spend. Our usual grocery budget is 200.00 a month. high for some low for others. This is for all paper and personal products. Just my husband and my self,but we have each of our three grandchildren stay over one day each week ,so there is three days extra and those kids can eat! and I love to feed them homemade scratch food! I really feel for everyone with those increases, we have been lucky no tax increase this year and our trash bill is locked in for three years as of 2019. Electric did go up in 2019 third quarter. I’m trying to menu plan for a month at a time. I need to be strong and stay away from the thrift stores!! Has anyone tried goodrx? if it works I would save a ton of money. I’m sending prayers and healing thoughts to those facing challenges, treatments and pain x Denise

    1. Denise,

      My niece made a menu plan for a month and put it in her Google calendar. Then she uses it each month. She has links to the recipes that she is making and both she and her husband can access it. Something like that might help you out in the long run.

      I prefer to see what’s ripe in the garden, see what I’m in the mood to eat, and see how many leftovers we have as some days everyone is real hungry at a meal and some days they are not. Since I seek to always have something ripe in the garden, it definitely affects when we eat what, because I don’t know what day exactly the peaches or the grapes will be ripe, or when the lettuce will be large enough for salads. The weather is generally the same, but it always varies a bit, and sometimes by a whole month on when I can harvest food!

      1. I agree Brandy, I have never made menu plans since I have always shopped the sales. I look to see what needs to be used up and then try to come up with a new, appetizing way to use it. Thank goodness for the internet where I frequently search for recipes that can use what I have on hand. Plus, I’m only cooking for hubby and myself these days so we go the “eat what we’re in the mood for” route most of the time too.

    2. We have used GoodRx many times and it is wonderful! You can go to the website, enter your zip code and the drug, and they will give you the (approximate) price the drug would cost at various stores in or near your zip code with the Good Rx coupon. Sometimes there is a big difference between stores and you might want to get two prescriptions at two different stores. Then just print out the coupon for the specific drug at the specific store and bring it to the pharmacist. You can also just bring the GoodRx card to your pharmacy and ask them to see what discount you will get, but it might not be as good of a price as with the GoodRx coupon from the website. You can only use Good Rx OR your insurance company’s prescription discount so you’ll want to check both. In my experience, Good Rx has always provided a cheaper price, sometimes as much as $60 cheaper for one prescription.

      1. Kroger’s pharmacy has a wonder plan called “Savings Club.” It is only available for 2 of the meds I take, but it provides a huge savings! Cost to join is $39 for a year.

    3. Denise, I always try the good rx app anytime I get a rx filled, it usually is cheaper than with my insurance. Also I work with my provider and try to choose things from the free list at Meijer, or the $4 lists at Wal-Mart or Kroger.

  41. That photo of the bowl of soup looks so inviting Brandy! I plan on making some seafood soup later this week as I have some seafood broth and bags of frozen shrimp, scallops & mussels that need using up! And congrats on scoring all those cans of tomatoes – don’t you hate it when something that you use constantly suddenly disappears from the shelves! If they come back I find that the cost has usually gone up while the size has gone down!

    My rent went up in October, insurance went up in January, and our transit costs are due to go up in March – welcome to 2020! I have noticed a real spike in food costs as well – not unusual here during the winter – still – I’m glad that I’ve got a good supply of things on hand so that I can wait for sales. I hardly ever buy meat now unless it’s on a real special or reduced to 50% off for a quick sale (it either gets cooked right away or put into the freezer). This past week I did finally find chicken thighs on sale for a good price (for us) so I bought two big packages. I divided one pack up into smaller ones and put them into the freezer for future use. The other pack I cut up and then cooked 3 ways – one topped with crushed pork rinds (actually low carb) – another batch topped with Chines 5 spice and finally, I made a curry with the third batch. I kept out a third of everything to eat this week with various veg and salads and put the rest into the freezer. I also prepped a lot of veg and made up a container of tuna salad so I am set for the week. Being on low carb does take a bit of planning so I now try to take one day and batch cook for the week ahead. Also cooked up some bacon and hard boiled a few eggs so I can just mx and match foods throughout the week.

    I was good about taking food to work and I only ate out once last week – an inexpensive lunch on Saturday with a friend. It absolutely poured here all Saturday and we had to be out so we both wanted something hot to take the chill off before we finished errands.

    I did a bit of hand laundry and that will get me through another week without having to do big loads.

    I also signed up for a Duo Lingo course (to supplement my Scottish Gaelic classes) and I’m also taking a free Futurelearn course about the history of the book and printing – I’m really enjoying it. Also have a new book from the library and its quite small so I’m using it as my commuting book.

    I promise to go back and comment on people’s poss this week – I have been very negligent about that lately – but I do read all posts each week. Have a good week everyone.

    1. Margie: Re: your last comment– The comments are as interesting as the posts, I think! The discussions build up such a nice sense of community!
      Re: Bacon: My husband has been researching the best, (meaning tastes good, least mess), ways to make bacon. Using our ancient George Forman grill worked very well, the key being to preheat to very hot ahead of time, though it only holds a few slices.
      Usually, I make bacon in the oven on a rimmed cookie sheet, covering the pan with foil to aid in clean-up. I dump the liquid into the bacon grease jar to use the drippings for future frying, wipe the cooled foil off, fold it loosely and put it in the fridge, and use it again next time. The key to oven bacon is putting it in a cold oven, as the bacon starts slowly as the oven preheats and then cooks.
      I have just started making my own croutons, and made the last two batches after I made oven bacon on the bacon pan, the second time not adding anything else but just putting the plain bread cubes in to toast. It gives them a nice extra flavor– as you can tell, I do love good crispy bacon!

      1. I do my bacon the same way – in the oven – on a rimmed cookie sheet – although I use parchment paper rather than foil. I cook a whole batch at once, drain it, save the drippings to reuse! And yes, I love crispy bacon!

      2. Hmmmm, bacon! I cook mine on the George Foreman grill and do a package at a time so I only need to heat the grill up and clean the removable plates once. The drip pan makes it easy to collect the drippings. I then use the bacon in cooking, such as quiche or quesadillas, without heating it up or pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds if eating it as part of breakfast or on a sandwich.

    2. Hi Margie,

      Great that you’ve signed up for DuoLingo. I loved it but couldn’t do it as staying on the computer causes my arm to hurt. Still I was able to learn 5,500 Italian words. I had hoped to learn 10,000 (the minimum to really understand a language well).

  42. I did my 1st grocery shopping trip since before Christmas. We should be good now until February. I reviewed our grocery spending for 2019 , we were on budget, now I’m looking to trim a bit more for 2020. No food waste is primary & we have been doing really well. I recently discovered that my bank has on online budgeting tool where you can designate debit card purchases to specific categories. I set this up & it is really helping to keep us on track.
    We enjoyed 2 days of unseasonably warm weather so we shut off the heat & opened doors and windows. Savings & fresh air! Our water bill was higher than usual so we are making sure to only wash full loads of laundry. I added water to my “empty” bottle of face wash & have been using it for days, same with shampoo.
    As always looking forward to learning from this group!

  43. One seller on Amazon has the Fels-naptha laundry soap bars for 88¢ or subscribe and save for 75¢ each bar. I know quite a few readers make their own laundry detergent. Hope someone has a need for this.

  44. Bandy, this is great that you are moving towards photographing the weddings! With your eye for the flowers, clothing, light and details you´ll be able to create magnificent wedding photographs, no doubt! Seems just the thing for you. And if it pays better – super!

    I had a question about this: “I listened to several episodes of a business podcast while doing laundry and organizing my garden seeds.”
    Where were your little ones? I can not listen to anything because my kids constantly talk to me or demand attention otherwise. I do not even try because then I would get upset on my kids for interrupting.

    1. I can’t listen to much, because it’s very hard with little ones. I have been only slowly getting through a few episodes of podcasts over a few days by listening at the following times: While loading the washing machine and dryer at 5:00 a.m with headphones on, while driving to run an errand 10 minutes away, while putting on lotion and combing out my hair after getting out of the shower, while putting on my makeup (only works when my husband or the older children are watching the little ones), and occasionally during naptime if the youngest doesn’t end up falling asleep earlier (lately he wants to nap once a day in between what used to be his morning and afternoon naps, so that time has been lost to me). I managed to listen later in the afternoon for a couple of minutes in my room, sorting seeds, while the little ones watched Ben and Holly from YouTube on the tv in the living room.

  45. 1. The flu struck my house this week so we lived off of oatmeal, fruit, and omelets while we were recuperating and somehow avoided getting takeout, which is always a frugal win. On a bizarre (and funny/sad) note, I have totally lost my sense of taste and smell over the past few days due to sinus crud, so the best thing I can say about my coffee this morning was that it tasted warm:)
    2. Found a nice jacket at the thrift store for just $5. **It looks like it has never even been worn!
    3. We were happy to have a car returned to us after we loaned it to a family member for three years while they were getting back on their feet financially. They mentioned it was acting funny, so we took it in and apparently the mechanic thought everything was okay. All it needed was an air bag to be replaced due to a recall and an oil change. Hopefully, it will continue to work well enough so my daughter can use it to practice her driving and get her to and from classes.
    4. My daughter started to take piano lessons from one of her fellow homeschool friends last week. Since, these are really just very basic classes (and her first to teach) she is charging us really affordable rates. My daughter has never shown any interest in learning an instrument (she is 15) but has come to realize that understanding notes and scales will help her in the vocal aspects of her acting career. She just started doing musicals in our community theatre and she is hooked!
    5. We lucked out and found a college textbook that my daughter needed on Amazon for just $17 to rent. The used ones run around $100 to buy, so we were thrilled.

  46. Had to replace my windshield, but due to our insurance it was $0 OOP.
    Are cancelling our February trip to Puerto Rico due to the earthquakes being centered right where we are going. Will do a staycation instead.

    Picked up spinach at the school’s cafeteria for $.50 rather than buy a bag for $4+. Ate in using pantry and freezer meals again this week. Used the oven for multiple things at once rather than running it several times. Picked up spinach at the school’s cafeteria for $.50 rather than buy a bag for $4+, otherwise groceries for the week were $25 and that included a bog jar of cashews and discounted Christmas paper plates to use at work and for hurricanes.

    It’s been warm so the heat is off. Stayed home all weekend and watched Netflix with little 15-20 minute cleaning sessions between each episode. Managed to inventory and clean out the bathroom cabinets, cleaner closet, and began working on decluttering the laundry room. The laundry room is huge and has become the place we stuff things we don’t know what to do with. It will take me several weeks working 15 minutes at a time, but it already is looking better. Used a facial mask I received for Christmas last year. Reorganized, so I will use these pampering items more regularly. I probably will not need to buy liquid, bar or dish soap for a decade, but am completely out of other things. Will try to hold on for the Spring Cleaning sales to replenish our needs.

  47. There is so much going on here that I’m sure I won’t remember most of what I did to save money, but I will highlight what I can.
    I had mentioned a bill from my doctor for $190.00 earlier. I had called and got no return call. I called again and asked them why they hadn’t taken my insurance. I got the bill today and I owe $9.24. That is a big difference.
    As many of you said most of my bills went up this year also.
    With car insurance having gone up to over %2200.00 I changed ins. companies. We saved over a thousand dollars and it is the same coverage. We have been with this company for decades and only had one claim in all of that time.
    There is a lot to be said about calling your people and talking about the prices. I’ve done that with insurance, cable and Terminix. Cable and Terminix both dropped their prices. Ins…I changed. Win-win.
    The school library has a book give-away going on and Zayne has brought 2 books home. Both like new.
    I’ve read, listened to and watched free books and movies.
    I am keeping a very close (I do anyway) watch on my accounts. I was hacked last month and I did get my money back, but I am doubling down on where and how I use my debit card.
    Blessing on you and your family, Brandy, for all of the blessings you give us.

  48. Oh…I forgot to share this news. My grandson, Zayne, showed his pig at County Show. This is the first time he has done this. He is with FFA. He won 1st and Grandchampion in Chester Whites. He got $519.00.

  49. On the weekend my husband and I sat down and went through our finances and made the decision to cut our grocery spending even more in order to pay off debt and save money for upcoming expenses. One of my daughters does all of our grocery shopping and much of our cooking so I sat down with her and together we revamped the meal plans and grocery list. We took a good look at what we actually needed and planned meals around what we already had in the house. We came in under budget and used the rest of the allotted grocery money to stock up on a few things. It was really neat seeing how excited she got by saving money. Passing on a family tradition. 🙂

    The basement bathroom toilet was running off and on and, unfortunately, it ran for quite a while with no one saying anything. Then my husband was reluctant to buy the part because it was going to be expensive. When the water bill came in way above normal he decided to take a good look at that toilet. The mechanism just needed tweaking, now it no longer runs and we didn’t have to replace it. It was a good reminder to me to never assume that something will cost extra and put off a needed repair. Sometimes a little maintenance goes a long way.

    We are a two-car family with my husband and I both driving to work separately. The girls needed to renew bus passes to get to school and back but I’ve been reluctant to spend the money. It’s very expensive here to ride the bus. So I’ve been shuttling them around but even though their school is on the way to my work it is cutting into my time and work schedule. I spoke with my husband about letting the girls use one car and we carpool since my work is on the way to his work. He was a bit reluctant at first, the girls are still fairly new drivers, but we are going to give it a try. I’m very excited about the savings to both my time and my bank account.

    My son just graduated last year and has decided to get his heavy mechanics license. Recently he announced that he was going to join the armed forces and get his journeyman heavy mechanics license while in the army. I couldn’t be more proud! A bonus is that he will be able to get a portion or all of his schooling paid for.

    My daughters are both headed to university in a year and a half and have started to think about the cost. They have both made the choice to study more so that they can get scholarships for that first year. They are also going to do track this spring, which they have done before and loved. If you get onto the university track team and maintain an eighty average our provincial government will pay your tuition. I love that my girls’ are thinking frugally about their education while still pursuing the big dreams they have.

    Along with my full-time job I also have three part-time contract positions. I preach every Sunday at small churches that cannot afford full-time ministry, I teach management training for a local college, and I do funeral services for three local funeral homes. Recently my husband decided to start his own historical research company, where he will employ university students to do research contracts while still maintaining his full-time position. I have also decided to write a book with my mother-in-law. Her stories of life in a small town are hilarious and heartwarming and really need to be written down. Hopefully, all of these will combine into the extra income that we need to continue to reduce our debt and help our girls with the university costs.

    So far this year we have set big goals for ourselves and have ganged together as a family to work towards them. It’s rewarding to see that the seeds of frugality that I sewed in my children’s youth have come back as healthy and productive money saving plants. Just last night I asked my daughter to help me scrape out a roaster after supper. It warmed my heart to hear her say, ‘don’t leave money in the bowl!’ I told her that I had first read that saying in a cookbook, to which she replied that she had first heard that saying from her mama and now thinks about it every time she is scraping out a bowl or pot. Parenthood is so rewarding!

    1. Hi, Jennifer,

      What province are you in? If you are in Alberta or Saskatchewan, there is the Florence E. Taylor Scholarship for women students entering first or second year university (or college) in Alberta or Saskatchewan. It is based partly on economic need and since both your daughters are going to be in school at once, they might qualify. I wish your husband would hire me as a historical researcher — I’m not a student but I’ve got experience. Ann

      1. Hi Ann, I am in Saskatchewan. Thank so much for the information on the scholarship I will definitely be applying for it! We are just in the process of launching the research business and I would love to look into contracting you for research if you are willing. How can I reach you when we are ready?

        1. Hi Jennifer,

          I am in Alberta so I don’t know if I’m able to research what you’d like but if that’s okay maybe Brandy can give you my email address.
          A lot of research can be done digitally and online so there might be a possibility there. I’d definitely be interested.
          As to the Florence E. Taylor Scholarship, your daughters must be nominated by a P.E.O. chapter. There are some in Saskatchewan.

  50. One of the best things which set the mood of the week was to read the story Brandy has on her website “When Queens Ride By”. Very inspiring and motivating. That story really helped me remember the pride I felt in keeping a comfortable home for my family with what we had when I was younger and had more kids than money. And hey….I read it for free. I also spent some time reading past frugal posts and helped reset my mind to ways I can do this. I found Brandy’s website years ago, when being frugal was just how it was but then as I said, health declined, money increased, and I fell into a different way. I have loved reading how awesome you all are at using your resources wisely.

    This week has still full of baby steps for me.

    As we are facing a move within a few months, one of the most frugal tasks I can spend my time doing is reducing what we put on that moving truck. Here in southern Louisiana, we have two trash days a week and a recycling day. I have been putting things aside for my adult children and Goodwill but those things that are of no use, I have been putting out incrementally with our trash….we don’t need both days for our normal use. This saves money later having to take things to the landfill. Also, having less things helps us use what we have….as some others have said. We had maybe 35 games and 10 puzzles. Our games cabinet was overflowing. We never played any of them because it was too overwhelming going into that cabinet. We now have about 15 games and 5 puzzles That cabinet looks more inviting and less intimidating to dip into.

    My husband’s car needed a new radiator this week. He used mine until the weekend when he was able to make the needed repairs. It saved money in gas as mine gets better gas mileage than his and also my errands were either condensed or eliminated And making the repairs himself with a $100 rebuilt radiator also saved money. It is an older car and has been needing little fixes here and there this past year. Each fix though has been less than $100 in parts. His ability to keep this old car running has saved us significantly.

    Between the decluttering, only having a car for errands in the evening and getting over a nasty cold, when I found myself at the grocery store, I knew simple was the plan for the week. We had several simple meals that while they were not the most healthy (chili dogs, pizza made from store bought crust, tuna casserole), they all were less than $10 a meal. Much cheaper than takeout and at least as healthy as delivery pizza and fast food burgers. Some weeks you just have to get by. And this week we spent less than $10 for every dinner and never ate takeout. Our grocery bill was less than half what it usually is. Win.

    Last week, we had cancelled a few subscription services that were not needed. One of them we caught right on the day it would renew. Except that they charged us the day before. I almost let it go. Just 8.99. But y’all inspired me. I contacted customer service and got my 8.99 back! Fair is fair. They renewed it early. We have a tendency to what they used to call “nickel and dime ourselves to death”. Just a little purchase, it doesn’t matter. Except it adds up. Reading all of your ways to save helped me value each little savings.

    In going through our subscriptions, we changed over to a new streaming site for homeschooling. We had been using one for years that I thought was a great price. $60 for unlimited streaming video courses on every subject from several grade levels. It worked for us for about 3 years and saved on curriculum and books. (we still bought books that were needed but not as many). Lately as my children have gotten older, that format has become stale and dull for them. I found a new streaming site, meant for older teenagers and adults, for only $20 a month. The courses are a better quality and better suited to my children’s current age. I was pleasantly surprised this week to see they have several courses on photography and cake decorating and cooking and writing and several things I have wanted for myself. I had almost subscribed to Craftsy but was not sure I wanted to spend the money when I probably could just look around the web and get these courses for free. However, now I have them gathered together ready for me to use. Something for my kids and for me….for less money.

    In the house we are currently renting, there are two heating/cooling units. Upstairs and down. Upstairs are the kids” rooms. Downstairs are ours, and the living spaces. The living room has a huge cathedral ceiling. I loved it when we moved in but have since found it is impossible to either heat or cool. Our utility bills are always high…between that ceiling and the two units. The weather in southern Louisiana right now is mild but with some cold spells and some hot days. I have turned off the downstairs unit. We either deal with the chill or turn on fans when it becomes hot. The children set their unit to their comfort for now as the heat and the cold both get amplified upstairs. As they learn to deal with the temps downstairs though, I am hoping we can get by with even less energy usage upstairs. Lesson learned, cathedral ceilings are maybe not the most economical way to live.

    Maybe that’s all? Thank you Brandy for such an inspiring and beautiful website.

  51. As ever, Brandy, thank you.

    Our whole-house fan stopped working and I asked our electrician if he thought he could fix it. He didn’t look at it, but said probably not, so we ended up ordering another one that’s much more energy efficient and much quieter. Truth to tell, the old fan (over 20 years old) had become so loud in the ceiling just outside our bedroom, that, even with earplugs, I couldn’t sleep with it on, and I was relieved that it stopped working. We felt we’d gotten our money’s worth. I prefer not to use Home Depot, because they put smaller stores out of business, but no one here carried the fan we wanted except Lowe’s and HD and it was at least $200 less at HD.

    Still not frugal because we had to close up the opening in the ceiling to accommodate the smaller ipening, and pay for re-plastering & the electrician. BUT, we do not use or have AC despite being in S. Florida, and the fan helps keep the bedroom cool at night and the rest of the house in the day. Also, when it’s cold (our cold is about 40 at its worst, and that is RARE), the house sometimes is colder than the outside air, after a few days, and turning on the fan brings the warm air in (we also open the attic stairs to let warm air into the house).

    When the electrician came to install the fan, he found a loose wire and the old one started. Too late!
    Anyway, we’re happy with the much quieter fan so…

    The weather is unseasonably warm here ande’re eating lots of salads and getting free avocados, so eating has been inexpensive, and we’re keeping our weight at the good level.
    Keep warm you all in the cold!

    I’m trying to find good homes for things I haven’t used and don’t anticipate using. Some sewing supplies, fabric, and odds and ends.

  52. I haven’t posted in a while, although I read here weekly. It’s so inspiring to read comments by frugal, level-headed, non-dramatic and non-aggressive homemakers who don’t get offended over the simplest of things. Yes, I am referring to Facebook groups. I much prefer Brandy’s site and the kind and gentle community here.
    I continue to shop my pantry and freezer for nourishing, frugal, and delicious meals for my family. I bake all our breadstuffs from scratch, and use all leftovers. We are aiming for a low-spend spring, as we have an expensive trip to finance in April. We need no clothing items, so no spending there necessary. I am gradually pulling grass from my garden areas to plant potatoes, onions, and carrots soon. We are having such a mild winter. I cleaned up my large utility room/pantry, and it is easier to find things. With 5 people doing laundry, getting food for pets, and searching for food items, it quickly gets cluttered and disorganized. In December I had found two pairs of nice athletic pants for my husband and I am shortening the legs of each pair. He is old enough to do the Silver Sneakers exercise programs for free. I am trying to balance getting plenty of rest with getting more, needed exercise. It is a struggle, as I have had a bit of a health-scare and am being followed by a hematologist for a possible precursor to a very serious condition. I am so thankful that my husband’s parents in their 90’s are currently well enough to remain in their home for a while longer. That does help cut down on the stress some. And grandkids’ psychological conditions are currently stable, so I am counting my blessings.
    God bless everyone here for their kind and supportive words to each other. Have a good week, Brandy and everyone.

  53. Oh. My. Goodness. I have so much catching up to do here (as always). I hope you all had wonderful winter holidays!
    The soup looks so yummy! I have some chicken veggie soup simmering away in the slow cooker as we speak. Tis the season!

  54. The soup certainly does look delicious, and the tomato sauce was such a deal!
    I saw a sale at Replacements online and decided to get the last two crystal water goblets for my almost complete set. Then I thought, “What am I doing?” and deleted it. I really don’t need those at this point!
    My husband has been asking for a recliner for quite a while. He’s so limited in his mobility that he sits a lot, and he tended to fall asleep in his non-reclining chair, which was uncomfortable. I found a very nice one, which he loves already, in a used furniture store.
    This week brings the first paycheck in which my insurance premium payment will be covered by my employer in total, rather than having to pay a portion of it myself. I’ll save on average, after taxes, $210 a month. My goal is to build our savings back up with that money, after a year of big medical expenses.
    I increased my tithe accordingly.
    We were spared most of the storm front that moved through. We got a lot of wind, but not so strong as to cause damage, and our power stayed on. Rain in our area was moderate.
    I’m trying to reduce our electric bill, but my husband is turning up the heat when I’m at work, due to his circulation problems. I’m not sure how or if to combat this, so I’m trying to find other ways to reduce the bill. I have already switched to almost total LED lights. One good thing is, in the summer he keeps the house warmer which keeps the a/c bill lower.
    I’m purging at my house. I’ve been doing it for a long time, but it’s because I do small amounts at a time, and usually find I can go back and purge some more later, so it takes a good while. I don’t mind, as long as I keep it up, it all helps. Getting clutter cleared means I know what I have and I will be motivated to keep it clear, so, less shopping.
    Stevie H., we have a cathedral ceiling as well. Temperatures are hard to control in that area, I agree. Wish I’d known that before we selected this house plan.

  55. A fan could make a big difference circulating air enough to drive at least some of the heat back down.in a cathedral ceiling. The best choice would be a ceiling fan but I imagine that could be expensive to buy and install. But even a fan on a pedestal pointed up might circulate the air enough to make a difference. I have places in my home where I have fans on timers (30 minutes on and 30 minutes off). It does help and it it keeps my bay window from getting covered with moisture and ice in the winter. The alternating on/off works at half the cost of running them full time of course.

    1. Replying to Patricia and Brandy, we have a ceiling fan, we put that in when we built the house, but he says the air movement makes him cold, even though it’s pushing heat down from upstairs. Our daughter bought him a heated throw blanket, but we have to be careful with that, as he has reduced circulation (hence, reduced feeling) in his feet. He is also restless, moving place to place, some of which have no plugs nearby. Temps have been up to 80 degrees lately, which is quite warm for January in North Florida, and he won’t turn on a fan, much less air conditioning. Part of the problem is he has some cognitive issues following his stroke, and while conversation with him seems very normal, his thought processes aren’t always perfectly logical. I think the heated throw is going to be the best option, if I can get him to stay near an outlet and to take the throw with him when he moves. We are still making adjustments to life following a stroke. I appreciate the concern and thoughtful comments! This site is a blessing to me.

  56. I didn’t comment last week, so this is more ‘how we saved money since the beginning of January’, but here we go:

    * Returned several Christmas gifts that were nice but we did not need, getting nearly $100 back in Amazon gift cards.

    * Used the protection plan for one of our phones to get a replacement one for only $99 instead of over $700. It was unfortunate that, when we first purchased our phones, we did not know that there was an issue with the motherboards (it only became widely known several months after we purchased it), but fortunately I opted for the protection plan, which has saved us a lot of money on replacements, and the refurbished phones we received have an updated version of the motherboard. We also took this time to evaluate the amount of money we’re spending on our phone plan, and we’ve decided that my SO will move to a straight talk plan (there’s one with 25GB of data and unlimited talk/text for $45, which is cheaper than the amount we’ve been paying for them using 5GB every month), and this will save us around $15/month (or more), with the benefit that my SO does not have to worry about using too much data at work (they work in a security booth at a factory and spend 90% of their day doing nothing, so they spend that time on their phone).

    * Reevaluated where we will be buying our cat food from, and we will be changing who we order from to save about 23c a can on food ($82.50 per year).

    * I took mass transit to run several errands instead of taking our car.

    * I’ve been reading the books I requested from the library and really enjoying them. I did check out a few books on reducing food waste, though I am finding that they’re more written for someone who wastes much more food than I do, so those have been not as interesting as I had hoped, but the other titles have been good so far.

    * Cooked dinners and lunches at home. I made a huge batch of enchiladas the weekend before last, that ended up feeding us dinner and lunches for nearly the entire week, using only a few chicken thighs. I cooked the chicken thighs in my InstantPot with some water, then used that broth to make the enchilada sauce. I also made homemade refried beans to put in the enchiladas. It was delicious!

    * I’ve been putting off on going back to the store. I know there are a few items I need to get, but I can definitely make it until next week at the minimum. The only thing I’ve been out of is milk and coffee creamer, both of which I can make from my food storage- powdered milk and some sweetened condensed milk do a decent job.

    * I used a gift card at my last grocery shop to reduce my out of pocket cost. I’ve reevaluated the grocery budget and am cutting it down from $250/month to $200/month (for the human food), cat budget of $71/mo instead of $76, and reducing our available dining out funds to $30/month instead of $50. My SO wanted to reduce the amount we spent eating out, and I will have one less stream of income these next few months, so these changes will hopefully account for that.

    * I found out that none of my classes require purchasing textbooks or other materials, which means I can save the $250 I had budgeted for that for something else!

    I hope everyone has had a lovely January so far!

  57. Brandy, the soup looks delicious. Today we are the coldest city on the planet! The whole week is colder than -40C. I am only driving to work and back. I am taking advantage of my time at home to cook and bake from my pantry and freezer.
    Other savings include :
    Packing all meals for work
    Shoveling my own walks and driveways on my corner lot
    Earning loyalty points when i buy gas then redeeming for free groceries
    Using the Flashfood app to purchase meat reduced by 50% and $5 boxes of fruit and veggies

      1. Hi Ann! I use the flash food app, and I LOVE it! This is their website: https://flashfood.com/.Their tagline is ‘Saving money while reducing food waste’, Basically, they’re trying to prevent stores from throwing out groceries that are close to their best before date or produce that is imperfect (or produce that they don’t have enough to give display space to, but the produce is still perfect). So, they make up produce boxes (full of random produce) that sell for $5, sell meats for 50% off, and lots of other perishable goods for at least 50% off. You do need a mobile phone for it.
        You download the app and create an account, and then you can see all the stores close to you (or in your city) that have products for sale. Each day different things are posted for sale in limited quantities, first come first served. You use the app to select the items and pay for them right away, and then you go and pick up the items from the store the same day, showing your online receipt. All the items will be in a giant labelled Flash Food fridge, usually by an exit or entrance; you just show an employee your receipt and they’ll open it up and let you choose your items.
        As with any grocery store, there are occasional (literal) bad apples, but you can just contact the help desk from flash food and they’ll refund the money. I once purchased a produce box and there was something moldy in it, so I complained and they refunded the whole box. The food should be absolutely fine and in good condition, so if you ever have an issue, contact them.
        I looooove the app, and enjoy buying at least one produce box a week. I make a menu for the week based partially on what shows up in that box. It is a completely random mix of veggies and fruit. That said, some stores will allow you to open the produce boxes when you pick them up, and you choose the box you want. The items posted on the app also have their best before dates listed for each item (except for the produce boxes), which is handy. Personally, I freeze almost all the meat I buy from them, so I don’t worry about consuming it all before the best before date.
        I believe they are currently only working with No Frills and Superstores in Canada, but I could be wrong. In the States, they’re expanding rapidly. I think they just started working with Meijers (or however it’s spelt) in addition to other stores.
        Ann, I believe you use a handibus to go grocery shopping, so you probably won’t be able to check each day and then jump over to buy items, but if you check the app whenever you do go shopping at the store, you never know what you’ll find! I’ve bought jumbo chunks of cheese (that I then sliced on my meat slicer) very cheaply, ground pork, milk, baked goods, and all types of produce (everything from potatoes and lemons to dragonfruit). As an ethical vegetarian, I’m not fond of buying meat for my cattle-ranch-raised husband, but if I can buy it 50% off from the flash food app, then I know I’m helping prevent food waste, and I’m much more likely to buy him meat, which makes us both happy!
        As you can tell, I really like the app! If you have any other questions, let me know!

  58. Thanks for all your helpful comments on the good rx ap hoping it will be okay for narcotics, it would take two of my scripts down in price ninety and one hundred and three dollars. That would be fantastic,my sweet husband is working one day a week just to pay for these two drugs. This is with insurance. Thanks Brandy and everyone, I like a menu plan. I have a pretty good stockpile and I can work from that . As for my garden, forget it! I really have a black thumb! We do have an an acre and half but clay trees and every animal to eat a garden you can imagine. I do grow berries near the house, raspberries and blueberries plus strawberries in containers. I’m thankful to be included in this group of wonderful women!

  59. Look into Khan Academy for math (actually several subjects are covered there). We use it frequently to figure out math. They have ACT, SAT and GRE reviews and everything k-12 for math. Great, free resource.

    1. Another idea for math help is YouTube videos called Yay Math. Very helpful for when I homeschooled my high schoolers and couldn’t explain how to multiply quadratic equations! It is filmed in a live classroom, and the teacher is very funny.

  60. Hulu live went up $10…….so we went back to cable tv, but with only 1 box rented. We can use the cable tv app on the other tvs. I placed an order for a signature box at fullcart.org I got the box with free delivery for $4.99. Its well worth that. (A bunch of processed foods). We wont eat out of it every meal but it comes in handy throughout the month. I cashed in some of my rewards for walmart giftcards and used them at Sams. I got a refund from our mortgage company for the overage in our escrow account. I have that set aside right now instead of using it for an extra payment, or to pay down a credit card. Dh is having people give him estimates for gutters, since there are none on our house. We probably really do need them because we have actual holes in the ground in a few spots where the water pours off the roof in a storm. We dont get a lot of rain often, but we’r in Florida and sinkholes are common. When my husband decides, oh sure lets put the gutters on the crredit card, I will use the money for that. Not much else that I can think of, other than trying my best not to spend any money!

    1. Kim,
      Sinkholes aren’t caused from what’s on top of the ground, but by what’s not under the ground.
      Many sinkholes in Florida, occur in areas where there’s mining that removes groundwater along channels in the karst. When water is drawn out from a spot along that crack, the withdrawals can leave a void that results in a collapse of the ground on top.
      A friend of mine is a hydroecologist and regularly plots connections between sinkholes and water extractions.

  61. Hello all!!

    Brandy, your tomato sauce deal not only is a great deal but also a lesson in networking and friendship!

    Friends and working together even in small ways lift us.

    This week we’ve started comparing our current phone plan with the competitors. Either our current plan increased without us noticing or the competitor’s are offering much lower prices. We will continue to research and compare before we make a permanent decision.

    One of our favorite family grocery stores is closing the store closest to us. (The remaining stock is going to other locations.) We went to another not that far from us twice and noticed empty spots on the shelves, especially items we use. My husband is diabetic and prefers a couple of name brands as they don’t use syrup or added sugars and other brands do or their carbohydrate count is too high. I did find one brand available by the case online but will have to talk to the store manger about ordering options. We have two weeks worth left which is a relief we have time to keep looking. Its also a reminder why even though we don’t have a lot of storage room, any kind of a stockpile can help get your through a rough patch.

    This past week, I repurposed a fairly new, lightly worn white quilt that somehow accidentally had something spilled on it and became permanently stained. I repurposed it as a mattress pad. It’s the perfect size for a California King which is an expensive size bed to buy bedding.

    Weather lately has been mild, some days even record breaking highs a few days. I washed bathroom rugs and air dried them in the sun and the breeze.

    Two pairs of two year old leather shoes were wiped clean and polished and look very smart. Good shoes that feel good and can take polish or a good brushing and clean up not only are kind to the budget but kind when we’re on our feet longer than we expect. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cute shoe but if it hurts my feet, forget it!!

    Ironed both my husband’s dress shirt and trousers but also my both my jean skirt and a cotton blend. Love a crease and that extra look an iron brings. Ironing is something I do well so we don’t need to send out shirts out to have them done.

    I made chicken vegetable soup from a chicken carcass I froze from a roasted chicken a few weeks back. We had supper for 3 adults with some nice half price buns and lunch for 2 adults two more days during the week.

    We were running errands near each other geographically and realized another errand could be done as we were right there too. It was one of those, “Hey, don’t we need to stop at the Feed Store too?” ( our Feed Store advertises they sell from Elephant to mouse food but also has propane gas tanks, tomato plants in the spring, wood pellets, etc. He’s family owned and we try to bring him whatever business we can —his prices are very fair too)

    We expect to be in home all day Saturday as the weatherman says the snow won’t be deep but it will be treacherous. We’ve got the shovels handy and firewood too.

    Hoping everyone stays well and those recovering feel better quickly. May we all feel peace, especially those grieving.

    My best,

  62. I have been hibernating in the extreme cold. I am about to resume compiling the remaining 6 photo albums (family photos of great-great grandparents and their prolific offspring). I had hoped to finish them before Christmas but it was an enormous job. In the meantime, I have taken a rest from the book. We received a small historical book printing grant from the government but now need to raise more money. I suspect I am about to learn Adobe InDesign so we can save a lot of money by doing our own design and layout.

    I made soup. I had to buy most of the ingredients so it was a very expensive soup but delicious. My little freezer is getting sparse but I still have a ham which I’ll bake tomorrow or the next day then make split pea soup from the bone. I had hoped to build up my pantry items again but it proved impossible with my new thousand dollar hot water tank (no, I couldn’t get the government grant).

    I bought two jars on KD (Kraft Dinner) cheese powder — normally $6.95 each on sale for $0.99 cents (as they were expiring that very day). I have greatly enjoyed it and notice that the ingredients are much healthier than the ingredients in the boxes (which have tartrazine). It ha been great on pasta or on popcorn. I don’t usually eat KD.

    The good news is that the natural gas bill for this extreme cold snap won’t be this month’s bill but next month’s and I finally am current on that bill plus my phone bills. Now to stay that way… I got a $100 credit because my internet/emails are still not working properly after 5 months of frustration.

    I thought my basement furnace had quit but it is okay. Just a word of caution to everyone — if you have a modern/recent furnace, the thermostats are battery-operated; not wired. If your furnace quits, check to make sure that the batteries are working. This happened at the community hall a while ago but they didn’t know about the batteries and a pipe froze (luckily didn’t break). We had used the hall and I received a very accusing phone call about whether we had turned off the thermostat but I told them no and had they checked the batteries? That was indeed the problem. Tomorrow, I’m buying some spare batteries — with this cold weather, I don’t want to be without them.

    I bought two bags of avocados for $6. (for 10 total). Safeway had some really great specials last week. My friend made a mistake and bought me toilet paper for $19.99 instead of $5.99. Rather than have her make a special trip over, I kept it as I figure it’s a year’s supply.

    As I write this it is close to midnight and a coyote is howling outside. It is minus 40ºC. I am grateful for heat and food.

      1. Tammy,

        Thanks so much. They reduced what we applied for by 60% but we are still thrilled to receive anything! It’s a particular honour with this grant. Now to do some fundraising elsewhere!

    1. The west coast with snow and Alberta with those brutally cold temperatures! They said on the CBC last night that Edmonton was colder than Antartica yesterday! Last Saturday it poured ALL DAY and this Saturday it is to snow all day! Two days ago it was plus 8C and right now its minus 20C and that is what it has been like for us all winter – one day I’m wearing my Spring with a heavy sweater and the next day I’m back in my down filled parka! And my mid-range winter coat has been in use a lot this year – normally by now it gets put away until the end of February and I wear my parka all the time but tomorrow and Sunday it’s to go back to just above freezing – crazy!

      Stay safe and stay warm. I bought some fresh food yesterday so I can avoid going out tomorrow!

      1. Calgary was also (and still is) frigid. You know how cold it is when the zoo doesn’t let the penguins go for a walk

  63. Thanks, Kaye. We are supposed to have a chinook on Sunday so the temperature hopefully will go up from -38C to plus 2º C within 24 hours! I can hardly wait…

    1. I love the Chinook! I cannot wait. We are a little ways off though. Tonight we will get freezing rain and 2-3 inches of snow on top of it.

      1. Living in the UK I had no idea what a Chinook was (I thought it was a helicopter) thanks to Mr Google I now know it’s an awesome sounding wind that almost eats the snow! I always learn things from this blog, be they frugal tips or meteorological terms! Thanks Brandy for this great community.

  64. Oh, Lauri, I hate freezing rain! That is gruesome to get freezing rain then snow. Hopefully the snow will insulate the rain so it’s not ice but be careful! Where are you?

    I finally ventured outside today and went to the archives. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be but then again I was picked up and dropped off right at the door. I read quite a bit about Harry and Meghan. Such complicated issues about citizenship and finances! So many nasty comments that I gave up reading.

    Well just one day away from the Chinook. Tomorrow I’m interviewing someone for a scholarship — brrrr I have to go outside to get there. Stay warm, stay safe!

  65. I rejoiced yesterday at the arrival of the chinook. I watched the frost literally melting off the outside of the window. I regretted not taking photos of the ice crystals but couldn’t make time for it. Saturday, I interviewed a young woman for a loan — I am very impressed by her perseverance. I was thankful that we all made it to and from the interview safely. This morning I awoke to a beautiful sunrise.

    Brandy, I’m wondering what range of new lens you bought. I traded the driving and gas to the mountains for photos I took of the driver’s family (also a trip to the mountains). She was very pleased. It was a lot of work editing (on my bird photos I don’t usually edit at all). I don’t have PhotoShop but am interested in your comments.

      1. Brandy, I hope you are feeling better soon! Ironically I have been looking at a Nikkor 105 mm VR AF f2.8 macro (micro in Nikon language). I used to have that lens but somehow it got lost and I didn’t notice it until it was too late to claim it on my insurance. They don’t often turn up used in excellent condition but I heard of one. It is reduced in price but still pricey; yet, it is one of my favourite lenses ever. Great for portraits and also for butterflies. Get well soon. Ann

  66. I hope the flu is gone quickly.

    FYI, I just tried to look at your first grade and then other links in your homeschool section. None of the links are ‘hot’ any more.

    1. They all work. They turn blue when you hover over them. For some reason I can’t find how to make them blue to begin with.

  67. Brandy-wonderful inspiration and thankful for this site and community.
    Frugal journey included-
    *Our adult son is going through some difficult times and he appreciated our household extras (cooking utensils, pillows, bedding, cleaning supplies, tools etc.)
    He is doing better each week and I see the healing beginning. Baked goods, helpful hands and heartfelt conversations all help when moving forward during challenging times and the most important are the prayers and blessings.
    *I found a new roasting pan at the thrift shop-great shape and frugal price.
    *I borrowed a friends snowshoes and went to a “free” trail with friends and enjoyed the great outdoors.
    *I bought “loss leaders” at the grocery store using a gift card that I purchased for 15% off.
    *We rented a “red box” movie for free.
    *Did a major remodel of our fireplace, laid the tile, did all the wood trim, and have a mantel that was made by relative, using recycle wood. We learned so much and what a great way to exercise our problem solving skills.
    Many blessings-
    Stay frugal everyone.

  68. On the topic of planning meals–I generally have an idea of what is planned for dinners: I, being the main shopper, always know what is available to cook but when my girls were teens, they did not. I started posting the week’s proposed meals on a sheet of paper stuck to the front of the fridge. They were supposed to start dinner before I got home from work, and this method let them choose what THEY felt like eating on a particular night, which made it more likely that they would get it started on time. My hours were long and so was my commute at that time and having dinner even half ready when I got home was a huge help. It also made sure the meals I wanted to use were the ones that were cooked during the week.

    Our weather has been about the same as many other’s–warmer than normal for a few days, and then a cold spell with some snow and most recently, some ice. Not sure about this weekend because I was still in the kitchen during the early news, but I’ll catch it at 11 PM. I think it involves snow and slush this weekend, but at least the temperatures will be less severe than last week’s snowy days. Just above freezing or just below–which gives us slush and snow. Yuck. We don’t have anything going on this weekend, but tomorrow is my birthday.. My daughter informs me that my family is coming over tomorrow evening and bringing dinner. Does that mean she will be popping over in the afternoon to straighten up the house? I doubt it! I guess I’ll be doing that and leaving my normal Friday laundry until Saturday. She’s always doing that. Something about this house–no one wants it when we’re gone, but in the meantime, I always get stuck with the entertaining, because everyone loves this house when it comes to birthdays and holidays! Guess we know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

  69. Costco actually does have the large #10 sized cans of tomato sauce. They are $3.29. We have a Costco membership and buy the large cans there. I make my own spaghetti sauce after reading your suggestion to do so. It’s definitely a money saver!

    1. Interesting. Ours did not carry them the last time I checked. I will have my mom check the next time she is there. It’s one of the reasons I chose to keep a Sam’s membership instead of Costco.

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