I harvested butternut squash, pumpkins, and basil from the garden.

I sowed seeds for green onions, spinach, nasturtiums, and lettuce. Succession planting of seeds means I will have a continuous supply of these things over the season, rather than having them all ripe at once. It is still warm enough to sow seeds, but that will change very soon.

I took advantage of Cyber Monday/Cyber week deals. I went through Rakuten to order glasses for two family members from Zenni Optical, receiving 15% cash back. I also got $15 off the glasses and free shipping. I ordered some shirts and cardigans for myself on 60% off sales with free shipping.

The weather here has been warmer than usual. I received my gas bill, which included a notice that they are raising rates over 7%. They also sent a notice about raising rates last month (over 4%). This is much less of a rate hike than many of you are seeing (it’s certainly not 50% as the news is reporting) but if they continue to raise rates each month, it may get that high shortly. Gas is much cheaper than electricity here. We have gas central heating, a gas dryer, a gas water heater, and we cook with natural gas (which I love). The gas company usually raises the rates during part of the year when people use more gas in the winter for heating (the rates go back down in summer).

My bill was $20.12.

It has never been that low–not even in the summer.

I have been combining cooking, baking several loaves of bread at once, cooking large portions so that we have leftovers for days, and we have been eating a lot of salads. Most importantly, because it is warmer than usual, I have yet to use the heater (though that may change at the end of this week as the temperature is expected to drop twenty degrees).

With rising rates across the world for everything, I am very grateful to have cut our usage of gas, electricity, and water even more.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. I too love cooking with gas. I first experienced it when I moved to CA, and that’s been my preference ever since. Last week, I used our kale in a quinoa salad, harvested and dried oregano, and hung laundry on the line. Our critter chewed sweet potatoes were dehydrated for pup treats. Books and movies were picked up at the library. Mint was harvested and dried, as part of a Christmas present for a family member who loves mint tea. I made suet for the birds. The last of our tromboncino was used in a saute with some of our last tomatoes, and mushrooms. Orange peels and cinnamon that had been used in cranberry sauce were added to a pot on the woodstove, for a cozy scent. We did a quick overnight trip to meet friends at an Inn, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Though the trip itself was not frugal, beforehand I researched Christmas trees and found a nearby tree farm. We were able to get a tree that was much fresher and $15 less than the local big box store. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/12/early-december-days.html

  2. We are in Maui right now and some prices are quite high. For eg a gallon of milk ranges from $5-10. Eggs around $3,59 per dozen although I saw some around $2.50 at Walmart the other day. Bread is around $5 per loaf which seems like a lot Gas is around $4.50 per gallon but we filled up at Costco for $3.89.

    We have mostly been eating in our condo and occasionally buying takeout at the supermarket deli. We have managed to book free Covid tests online and will go for those tomorrow. I found 2 tops and a dress for $12 at the Salvation Army thrift store-I spotted a shirt there for my SIL for $2.99 that she almost bought new for $40 the other day-so she was pleased with that. Very stormy last night but the rain has stopped and the sun is back out for the last few days of our trip

  3. We had bit of warm (53 degrees F) weather one day this week, so we worked like crazy outside until sunset! The things we did were money savers too! I mucked out the chicken coop – both levels- and dug the discard into some of our veg beds that are resting over the winter to help build up the soil. Replaced it in the coop with some deep litter pine shavings that will help keep hens warmer and cleaner over the winter. They are still producing over 2-1/2 dozen eggs a week!
    Hubs emptied the stock tank that filters our koi pond and the mucky water went into the veg garden beds too! So we are recycling into our vegetable beds which will enrich the soil for better production next year!

    I cut and harvested a huge amount of rosemary from our bush and dehydrated it. The house smells like rosemary and it has filled 2 jars! Another herb/spice I won’t have to buy! https://pin.it/1lOoJUc.
    We put plastic fencing (left over from another project) around our fig tree and filled it with straw to shelter the tree. It began producing so well last year with no support from us that we want to reward it to see if we can increase the production!

    We planted blackberry cuttings into the raised beds to make additional new plants.

    We have been watching Craigslist in anticipation of replacing our rust bucket (but well loved) minivan. Friday we found one that fit our criteria for car shopping- 1.NOT a car dealer- a private party, 2. someone who has owned the car for years, 3. non-smoker, 4. well-maintained car. We found one that is a 2002 (I know that many of you will gasp at how old it is!). We bought it from the second owners who have owned it for 8 years. It is pristine. The owners are a retired couple who just replaced it with a new car. The mileage is about 100K less than our current van and does not have even a spot of rust on it (where our current van has bottom edges of side panels rusting away!) . And it has working A/C (something our current one doesn’t!) We were able to take the money from our savings account and still leave a very nice balance. We are thrilled! https://pin.it/50U4oHu. We will sell our old minivan for $600 easily because although it is rusty and has a lot of miles on it, we’ve maintained it well and it is completely reliable for someone.

    I used some of my frozen Turkey chunks (from Thanksgiving Turkey sale) and some extra pie crusts I bought on sale to make 2 Turkey pot pies (full size ones) on Sunday. We remembered that we saw the husband of a young couple in our congregation at Church by himself. We thought either: 1. Wife was sick, 2. Wife was studying like crazy (she’s a law student at uni) or 3.Wife was out of town. Either way, we thought that our second pot pie might be appreciated. We put it in a box along with a loaf of sourdough bread and some bagels for breakfast on Monday and dropped it off unexpectedly for them. The wife had been feeling congested and also was studying for a Law School final coming up the next day! They both were overwhelmed at our small offering and it warmed our hearts!! The blessing of having a full pantry- enough and to share!! ❤️

    Quilting business keeps moving along steadily. Quilts #209- https://pin.it/70MHHL1, #210- https://pin.it/3lXS5AJ, https://pin.it/4Tffpt6 and #211- https://pin.it/18xxt3h and also Quilt #212- https://pin.it/oFC0Eph. This large king size quilt was quilted on Lenni today https://pin.it/DRZ3Gqm and 3 more quilts for customers are in the queue.
    We have been blessed in our work and are grateful!

    Life has been pretty wonderful to us and we continue to find more ways to save and so much more to learn!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

  4. My cats had their annual physicals today, 12/6. Last year when owners or servants, take your pick, of pets were not allowed in the building with their animals, I used the mobile vet that makes house calls. It worked out so well last year that I did it again this year. Even with the $113 house call charge, it is totally worth it to me to not have to wrangle 3 cats into carriers and drive them to the vet, especially for the youngest cat who is absolutely terrified by the entire process . It all works out though because this vet charges less for other services so the bill is not significantly higher than what I would pay at our old vet and might actually be a little less. If the cats were not all on the same schedule and needed 3 separate house calls, that would make me think about it but since they are it’s an easy decision.

    Now that I know how much everything is going to cost next year, including my Medicare supplement, I redid the budget for the first quarter of 2022. I also determined the allocation of the money I plan to withdraw from my IRA at the beginning of January, whether it’s a major payment to the house principal, real estate taxes and insurance, supporting blogs I read, paying for the aforementioned vet visit, etc. Doing this lets me know I’m not taking out too little or too much and I feel better mentally having it all allocated.

    I stocked up on cat food. The one cat is on a prescription diet and you would think that at 19.5 pounds he would not be picky but he really is. There is one kind of kibble in one flavor for him and I now have enough to last all of 2022. No, amazingly enough, it’s not a weight loss food. As the vet said, he’s just a really big cat and always will be. I also got enough canned food for the other 2 cats to last until September and enough litter and treats until at least May. Chewy.com believes in cramming as much in a box as possible so I received multiple boxes weighing close to 60 pounds. I’m pretty sure the FedEx guy hates me. I know I would. I do feel good about beating anticipated price increases in their food.

    Our weather has been delightful for both living creatures and the electric bill. With highs in the 70ies and lows in the 40ies and even 50ies, I’m on track to use less than 400 kWh this month, even with a “cold snap” (according to the local weather people) into the 60ies coming up later this week. My tomatoes in pots are still growing and I picked the first two cherry tomatoes as well as more sugar snap peas.

    I borrowed Yellowstone, seasons 1 and 2, from the library. I’ve seen a couple episodes on the Pluto TV streaming service so I know it’s not going to be gentle and heartwarming. I also read one library book and listened to 2 others on Scribd and listened to Christmas music on TuneIn Radio’s “Holiday Standards” station. There’s something about listening to all the artists I grew up with (Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Steve and Edie, Burl Ives, Nat King Cole, Elvis and on and on) that makes it feel like Christmas.

    I also checked out 3 audio books (and the print version of one of the books) on Hoopla. I requested that my library buy them and whenever they make a requested purchase, the requester gets to borrow them first.

    1. Yes, all those supplies from Chewy weigh a ton. We always order a lot at one time to avoid the shipping charge, and three boxes of litter in one carton does indeed weigh 60 pounds. My husband had shoulder surgery six weeks ago and still will not be able to pick up very heavy things for months to come. We figured out how to get the stuff inside from the front porch. We open the cartons on the front porch and carry the food and litter in separately. Then bring in the empty carton. Those babies have to be taken care of. 😀

        1. Mari , thank you so much for posting the link. I had a child’s wagon ,I have used to move things around. Recently the wheels broke off and I need to replace it. Something like this would be perfect.

  5. My electric was 60 dollars last month. It has been in the 70’s here. But temps will drop this week. Vehicle gas prices range from regular 2.92 a gallon in the college town to $3.39 in my work town. I bought chicken, eggs, Gatorade, cat and dog food. I made boiled eggs for breakfast, turkey and cheese sandwiches, with carrots, for lunch, and spaghetti for supper. I used regular sandwich bread with butter and garlic seasoning browned in oven for my garlic bread. . I walked in the neighborhood for exercise.

  6. I learned this week that many are not aware of the $80 lifetime senior pass for national parks, forests, US Army Corp of Engneers parks, etc. It can save up to 50% on camping fees in addition to providing free admission and other discounts. Now that concessionaires run many of the campgrounds and tours, some of the discounts are reduced in some places. But I learned today that even Arkansas state parks honor the pass as proof of age for 50% off campsites.

    Solo senior caregiving is hard. And some weeks are harder than others. This was one of those weeks when it has been very hard and very lonely. Mom rose to the occasion when I was hurt. But other days she made it impossible to get enough sleep. And I feel so bad when she gets confused.

    I badly sliced my fingertip on a mandeline cutting an onion, through the nail into the nailbed Friday afternoon. I still had over an inch of onion to slice when I did the number on my nail. Moral of the story: Never ever use a mandoline without its finger guard/vegetable holder. If Michigan wasn’t at peak Covid-19 cases, and if I would not have had to arrange for both a ride and a grannysitter to go to urgent care, there I would have gone. As it was, I left a message with my doctor asking when my last tetanus shot was and drew upon the skills I’ve developed caring for mom’s tissue paper skin. No signs of infection and the edges are staying flat and together so no stitches appear to be needed. Whew.

    1. Holly you are in my thoughts. Solo senior caregiving is incredibly tough so please don’t feel guilty when your Mum’s confused. You are doing your best.

    2. Yes, care giving a hard both mentally and physically. I have worked as a home health aide as well as taken care of my own family. I read a saying years ago about dealing with a dementia patient, “They aren’t trying to give you a hard time, they are having a hard time”. This little saying helped me keep things in perspective on difficult days.

    3. My mom took care of her mom for 5 years, she was the only child. It was hard. In Finland (our neighbouring country) there is, i may be mistaken in details, but a 28-days vacation for those who take care of their family member at home. Someone else will come and replace you, they are paid by state. I love how it recognizes hard work of taking care of sb at home.

    4. Just did this myself but to the bone but I was cleaning it not using it. Only reason I went was it was still bleeding after 30 min with pressure and my hand above my head

    5. Wah! Me too. What is it with us prudent homemakers and cutting our fingers this week? I am on my own too, and I took myself off to my local emergency department and was well and promptly looked after there – including getting a fresh tetanus shot. Here in Australia, that doesn’t cost me anything, and the kind young doctor even gave me some dressings to be going on with. I would have had to wait a few hours for my GP to squeeze me in. But yes, lets all be careful with knives in the busy season!

  7. Brandy, I’m thankful for natural gas, too–we have two inches of snow on the ground and nighttime temperatures below 20F! We have a gas furnace, water heater, dryer and kitchen range, and I love them all! Lucky you to be able to plant seeds!
    * We celebrated Thanksgiving the Sunday after because of my husband’s illness (he is still recovering). I deboned the turkey Monday and froze 11 packages for future meals. I made two turkey pies Tuesday, baked one for that night’s dinner and froze one for my stash of freezer meals.

    * I made a double batch of cornbread, divided it 3 ways, ate one-third and froze two packages for future meals.

    * I didn’t need groceries this week and the ads weren’t that great, either. I don’t expect to shop for anything except eggs and milk.

    * I recycled 3 empty ink cartridges at Office Max for $6 in Rewards on a future purchase.

    * I darned a pair of DH’s Smart Wool socks and told him to cut his toenails, LOL.

    * I shortened two pairs of Nautica pajamas I bought last year at the liquidator that sells Costco returns. Now that I have 2 pairs of nice pajamas, plus one older pair that isn’t too bad, I threw away the rest of my pajamas. They were rags and not worth donating. One pair was flannel and I tore the bottoms into actual rags.

    * My favorite tablecloth is about 35 years old and prone to grease stains (it’s polyester and used to have stain release properties that are long gone). It looked like someone had poured grease all over it. I was on the verge of throwing it away when I decided to wash it one more time. I didn’t hold out much hope. I diluted Dawn about half and half with water (it spreads better if it isn’t quite as thick), spotted all of the stains, and washed it…and about 80% of the stains came out! This encouraged me to give it another try, and now ALL of the stains are gone. It’s on my table right now with a pretty Christmas runner. We are also eating all of our meals with the Christmas dishes.

    * I read The Last Thing He Told Me, from the library. It’s a page-turner!

    Brandy, if you think this is going to hijack your thread, feel free to delete. (The answers won’t be as long as the questions, LOL). I have questions for you and everyone else that has had the lights die on their pre-lit tree: How did the lights go out? One at a time, part of a string, all of a string, the whole tree, all at once, etc.? Were you able to fix them? How? Did replacing the bulbs help, or did they just burn out, too? If you removed all the lights, at what point did you do this? (As in, you’d tried everything else first?). If you bought a tool that is supposed to fix light strings, did it work for you? This is actually for an answer on a small frugal forum–I haven’t had this problem yet, but you never know! (My tree isn’t up yet). I have had problems with the last section of icicle lights going out and the tool did not work. I originally thought the lights hitting the house when the wind blew was the cause, but now I am not so sure–since it is only the last few feet that go out. (If hitting the house was the cause, wouldn’t other parts of the string go out?).

    1. We had parts of strings go out and whole strings go out. We did try replacing bulbs but it made no difference. We went a few years with some dark spots in the tree before we decided to replace the whole thing.

    2. Maxine … we had this happen with two urn trees and our 9 ft tree. First, sections went out then the entire tree. I just spent an evening removing the lights from the urn trees and noticed that the “prelit” lights were simply string lights wound around each branch. It took a set of wire cutters and was a quick job. After Christmas I will do the same for the 9 foot tree. I didn’t have the heart to spend money to replace the trees that were in great shape when a frugal alternative was to simply add string lights.

    3. Maxine: where is the store that sells Costco returns. Since I am in your area, it might be fun to go.

      1. Well, there are actually quite a few! The closest one to you would be Spokane Discount on Mica-Dishman Rd. They also have a store in the 6700 block of N. Division. The store where I usually shop is called Rocky Mountain Liquidation at 11407 N. Government Way in Hayden, ID. If you hear of a store in the old Factory Outlets mall, it closed in 2021. It was a Rocky Mountain. Spokane Discount, at least the one in the Dishman area, is so crammed full of merchandise that it kinda gives me claustrophobia. Let me know when you decide to go and maybe we can meet up.

    4. When this happens the fix it tool has never worked for us but our friend has had it work for him. We just buy a cheap set of lights and add them. If the lights are outside, the wires can break due to weather , cold then hot then cold and wind adds to it.

  8. You always do such a great job inspiring me to find more ways to be more frugal!
    Our local Buy Nothing group hosted our first in-person swap over the weekend. They collected books, toys, and holiday decor. We brought a few books to donate and took home a free wooden Advent calendar, tree topper, and our kids took a few toys to use as holiday gifts for their siblings.
    I also walked to our local Sunday market (vendors set up in our park on the first Sunday of the month), and had the jewelry vendor fix a pair of earrings I bought from her in the spring because the back had bent. She was very nice and replaced the backs free of charge.
    But my favorite thing this week was that my husband’s company hosted their annual holiday party. Every year they pay for all of the employees and spouses to spend one night in a resort hotel and they serve us a four course meal followed by dancing. I did have to buy a dress, and we stopped for lunch on the way home, but otherwise my mom came to watch our kids Saturday night, we drove about 90 minutes to the hotel, and the entire hotel experience was free to us.

  9. We had unseasonably warm temperatures last week so the furnace didn’t run very much. But we woke up today to a high of 36F so it’s on again. I’ve managed to get the thermostat down to 67 which is not bad. I think I’ll leave it there and see what our bill runs.

    We did very little shopping. We bought three packages of chicken thighs for 99 cents a pound. I made chicken and rice with part of the package and a very large crockpot of taco soup with the rest of the package. My family doesn’t really care for the chicken with bones in it so I guess I’ll buy it and use it for recipes deboned. We can’t afford to be too picky.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  10. Hello! I enjoyed the Instagram video of your yard. It’s looking beautiful. And thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. I love ladybugs.

    *I’m still working on my downstairs pantry and organizing it. I’m taking Marivene’s method of 1 bucket – but instead do 30 minutes of organizing. It’s good to organize shelf by shelf and see what I have too much of at this time. I don’t have room to put the food in that we have purchased. That is mostly because everything has been shoved in there and isn’t as organized as I would like it to be. I moved my girls sanitary pads into their bathroom. That freed up some needed space. I also have been moving heavy items to bottom shelves and lighter stuff to top shelves. Our neighborhood donates to the food bank in lieu of neighbor gifts. We are blessed to have things to donate. I’m giving all the boxed mac n cheese to my daughter who is moving out at the end of this month. My youngest daughter can only eat the gluten free version of mac n cheese. These things also created more space on my shelves.

    *One failure was discovering evaporated milk that expired in 2017 – about 12 cans. We just don’t use it for anything. I’m not buying anymore. We have plenty of powdered and shelf stable milk on hand if needed. I am learning what works in our family and what doesn’t.

    *My grocery shopping allowed me to purchase free toothpaste, plug in scents and oil warmers for the plug ins. My bill was a bit higher this past week but I only shopped the sales. My youngest can only have certain fruit – like berries. I’ve started storing the berries in glass jars and they last so much longer than in the store container. I wrapped my lettuce and celery in aluminum foil. It’s lasted 2 weeks so far and is still looking good.

    *I’ve been watching my tomatoes from my garden ripen in brown paper sacks. I was able to can 3 quarts of tomatoes last week. I still have one bag that is ripening. I picked the green tomatoes at the end of October. What a blessing!

    *We were invited to go with my son’s fiancee and her mother to look at wedding dresses. She tried on so many lovely ones and it was so fun to see what she would like to wear on her wedding day. I didn’t even look at prices because I wasn’t paying for it. But the mother would tell me the cost – $800-$1200. We were all thrilled when the one she picked turned out to be $300. There was a small rip by the zipper and it had been marked down because of it. Cost of repair – $0. And the dress is exactly what she was looking for in a gown.

    *We had a family party on Saturday. We were asked to bring shredded cheese. I had plenty in my freezer. Only 1/2 the bag was used and my husband brought the rest home. He also brought home 2 tacos, salsa and a treat.

    *I organized one of our bathroom pantries, cupboards and shelves. The storage was jam packed and had stuff falling down if someone was trying to get something out. I took all the toothpaste tubes out of the cardboard containers, put the extra toothbrushes in a zip bag and was able to fit them all in one plastic container. I discovered I do not need to buy any more lotion – I have 30 bottles. My girls kept saying we were out but that isn’t true. I put our body wash in a large tub and the shampoo/conditioner in another tub. I went through and put all the bandaids in one box instead of scattered among 4. I discovered we have more than enough hand soap and also enough soap refill containers. I got rid of my hot rollers and beachy wave curling iron because I’ve cut my hair short. I discovered I have plenty of bath sponges to give at Christmas and marked those off my shopping list. I grouped all my travel supplies in one bag.

    *My Buy/Nothing group had two offerings that I was able to receive. One was a big red/white striped box (about 2 feet tall/3 feet wide). I will use that for storage. The other items were two Walmart bags of Christmas ornaments. I had made a branch wreath a year ago and glued one bag of ornaments to the wreath to make a new door decoration. The other bag I let my girls pick out their ornament for 2021 and then put the rest on the tree. The ornaments will go very well with what we already have and fill in holes. I’ve been giving my children that move out their ornaments from their childhood to use at their homes. That’s 60 ornaments no longer on my tree – so I needed a few fill ins. The ones I received for free are hefty and sparkly.

    *My husband treated us to lunch on Saturday and used coupons/specials to use at Arby’s. I was so grateful because I was shaking from hunger.

    *Hope you all have a wonderful week.

  11. Hello everyone!

    This past week I took advantage of the half price membership deal on Cyber Monday at our local museum. This will make for lots of fun family outings and also gets us free admission to a handful of other museums around the country.

    We are planning a trip to see my husband’s dad. We haven’t traveled since before the pandemic so this visit is overdue. We usually drive but would need to rent a car this time so after pricing everything out it was cheaper to fly and we will not have to be gone so long. Win-win.

    I skipped a trip to the grocery store last week and made meals with what I had on hand. I am determined to meet a few financial goals next year and eating out of our food storage rather than going to the grocery store will make a big difference in that.

    Have a great week everyone!

  12. Brandy, your photos are particularly stunning today.
    I saved money this week with the usual habits. Hung laundry to dry. Used public transportation when DH and I had work or appointments at the same time. I had a few good buys at the grocery store including Cracker Barrel cheese for 75 cents (sale and Ibotta), eggs $1.99 for 18, pasta 50 cents lb.
    I continue to read on the Libby app. I am intrigued by Mountain Mama Dawn’s reading recommendation—Gladys Taber. I read a couple columns online but my library doesn’t have her books. I am going to go to a branch which is open next time I am out to see if they have the books or can order them on inter-library loan.
    DH’s foot-post partner tested positive for Covid but DH tested negative today so I am very relieved.
    I am replanting my window pots of basil and cilantro. I should have done it when our garden was finished for the season. We already have the seeds.
    I have physical therapy for my (arthritic) knees and I have been assigned exercises to do at home including some stretches which I really enjoy. Equipment is minimal and I have repurposed a belt and a ball to use.
    Hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Kat, I hope you will be able to find some of Gladys Taber’s books to read. I have read “The Book of Stillmeadow” and “Stillmeadow Seasons” so far and love them both. So much so, I bought “The Book of Stillmeadow” on Thriftbooks.com for less than half the amount of money it is listed for elsewhere. I just decided it is one book I will re-read and wanted to add it to my collection. Happy Early Christmas to me! I found this site interesting, if you would like to learn more. https://friendsofgladystaber.org/
      It appears that her books are out of print which may be why it has been difficult for you to find them. Hope inter-library loan can help. That is how I get 99% of what I read. Happy reading!

      1. My mama LOVED Gladys Taber and I inherited her collection! I’ve never heard of anyone else who loves her like I do. Her books are just so peace-filled! This made my day!

  13. Not a whole bunch here, but is a few things….

    My mom sent over ketchup, milk, Epsom salts, toothpicks, and onions

    Earned $10.25 from Amazon shopper panel rewards
    Earned $5 for Amazon from Verizon. Used both of those to by ornaments for the tree.

    Earned $3 no rush shipping digital credit.

    Using our Christmas tree from last year. Hubby isn’t too happy, but real trees are kind of pricey right now.

    Took a chunk of cake I froze a few weeks ago out of the freezer to eat.

    Used up stuff we have here.

    Ate lunch at work.

    Stayed home as much as possible.

  14. Your squash harvest is impressive. And that’s great about the low gas bill.
    My husband and I cleaned out our closets and donated a big box of things to the local humane society thrift store. My husband had 6 pairs of jeans that no longer fit and were too worn out to donate and I learned I could donate them to be recycled into house insulation. I was able to print off a label, attach it to the box and hand it off to the UPS driver at no cost to me, and no jeans ending up in the landfill.
    We received $200 for referring neighbors to our solar company. This will go toward paying for the ¼ cow which is being processed this week.
    We decorated for Christmas using the decorations we had and a few I made this year from things I had around the house.
    I made sandwich bread and yogurt, and we enjoyed arugula from the garden. (I can’t believe it is still going strong.) I made chicken and turkey broth from scraps and canned 5 pints of chicken broth and 6 pints of turkey.
    I was going to send my in-laws one of those gift towers with lots of different treats, until I figured out how expensive they were – and it didn’t seem they offered much for the money. So I made up a bunch of their favorite treats and boxed them in containers I have saved over the years. Even paying $24 to ship this Priority Mail I saved so much money, and I know they will enjoy the gift.
    Instead of buying new cards to send this year, I gathered the leftovers of all my previous cards and had enough to send everyone on my list. I doubt anyone is going to remember if they get a card I sent out five years ago.

    1. That’s very interesting about the jeans! Can you share the name of the place so that others can donate?

        1. Thank you from me, too! We are going through all of our clothes here and I’m sure there will be lots of jeans! Some wouldn’t be acceptable to thrift stores. This also really appeals to my recycling gene!

  15. Ooh I just noticed the wax beads. I always use sticks of sealing wax but I am almost out and I am tempted to order the beads to use for my Christmas cards. Thanks

    1. I use the wax sticks with my hot glue gun (just for sealing wax) but I can’t change out colors in between. I am planning to go to the heads instead. The link has a bunch of different colors available. They also sell mixed containers.

  16. Hello Everyone!
    Last week I went to Walmart to stretch my budget until payday. I saw $7/lb. Strawberries for sale!! I didn’t buy them but was shocked as I’ve never seen prices so high for them. I live near many of the fields where they’re grown! 😳 Today I went to Costco and saw them priced at $4.50/lb. Which is still high. I passed again. I may decide to add another strawberry tower in the spring.

    I’ve been shopping more frequently to take advantage of sales from each store. There seems to be fewer specials at each store, but by reading ads and shopping from them we’re able to minimize the food inflation. While at Costco today packages of boneless pork loin were marked down $8. I bought an 8lb. Package at basically $1/lb. I’ll cut it apart, Food Save and freeze the portions. Now that I think about it, I probably should’ve bought 2! I made a Costco return for a product I was looking unhappy with saving $28.

    I had to fill up my gas tank today. It was down to $4.19/ gallon from a high of $4.35. Now that I don’t need to drive to frequent doctor appointments I can stretch one tank of gas for 2 weeks. I consciously try to combine errands to save time and money.

    With the arrival of December the temperature dropped. We used some free logs in our wood stove to warm the house this weekend. In addition we decorated our artificial Christmas tree with ornaments we’ve had for years.

    I bought some Black Friday supima cotton bath mats from Lands End. I replaced an old bath mat that is crumbling underneath and heavy for the washer. I think this will be cleaner as it can get washed more frequently and less expensive as it can be combined with a towel load.

    Other savings include cooking and baking from scratch, cutting my son’s hair, enrolling him in more dual enrollment classes at the community college for spring and signing myself up for spring tennis at the CC. I keep working out at home using my Les Mills app. I listened to free Pandora and podcasts as well as watched some free news on YouTube.

    Have a blessed and beautiful week. Happy December! 🎄❄️⛄️

    1. I am seeing crazy price increases like this too, and when I read that grocery prices have only gone up 11%, it seems very inaccurate. I am really, really glad that we are able to grow more in the garden now, and I am looking for more ways to squeeze in food.

  17. It has been a fun and homey week. We stayed around the house mostly, so not much money spent. We decorated the outside; my favorite outdoor decoration is an old sled that my husband brought home from the dump then decorated for me. We decorated gingerbread houses on Sunday, competing against my children – I did pick up some extra candy at the Dollar Tree, but my daughter split the cost of that. My husband and I visited a state park on Sunday to see their holiday displays and take a tour of an 18th century fort and 19th century home – at just $16 for the two of us, it was a nice date. My children and I decorated a tree for my mom today and took her the Advent of books (a few days late as we had been exposed to Covid, so we avoided her even though we are all vaccinated). All in all, I’ve enjoyed just staying at home enjoying my own decorations and the season.

  18. Hi Brandy, I am admittedly jealous that your growing season goes so long!
    We are focusing on making sure any spending uses scrip cards, which earn money toward our tuition. So high school fees etc get paid with prepaid visa cards through the program, gas cards get bought, etc. Every bit helps.
    The kids are picking up on our desire to be more intentional with spending and what we bring in the home. My son wants to buy my daughter lots of flour for baking for Christmas gift, for example.
    I did “trade” by wood-burning ornaments for all the teachers at the school. Instead of payment I asked the principal to put that money towards the angel tree at church, since I wouldn’t have the funds to donate this year because of the van repairs.
    We keep the carpooling going for activities and I’ve adjusted my office hours so I can pick up from school instead of extended care, except on basketball practice days.
    I held off on some black Friday deals on a couple of relaxation apps and instead found videos online that I made a playlist of.
    Earned kohls cash by buying kids needs (socks, new pants, etc.). Using money earned to buy another clothing item needed.
    Convinced my husband to disconnect some streaming services we weren’t using.
    We are using fetch to earn some money back. Just cashed out for an Amazon card.
    Now that we don’t have activities each night (holiday choir concerts are past us) we are resuming menu planning, which we did poorly on last week.
    I wish I had a “wow” idea to share this week but it feels like a reset for us. Have a great week!

  19. That’s amazing!
    * I also took advantage of Cyber Monday deals- made sure to get best bang for my buck and was careful to also avoid excessive purchasing. Used the $15 Kohl’s cash I earned for a few free Burt’s Bees lip balm sets since all 3 girls in our house can go through them quickly!
    * picked up more free take and make craft kits and books from the library
    * received and used another $5 grocery coupon from pharmacy in store
    * did a pantry/freezer challenge this week for dinners since husband was on vacation and loves to eat fast food out for lunch when home
    * have been looking for a tree skirt and was gifted a beautiful one from Buy Nothing Group- what a blessing!!!

    Hope you all have a fantastic week!

  20. Great savings on the gas bill. Thank you for the warmth through your photos (high winds within snow coming here).
    I gave myself a great hair cut. I do want to go back to getting it professionally done twice a year, but decided to accomplish a financial goal first.
    My job offered to comp my lunch break, so grateful they offered. From their free food van (we are allowed to take up to 2 items) I have been able to get milk and yogurt.
    Hope everyone has a calm week!

  21. It’s been a couple weeks of high expenses with medical treatment for our Dotson who is now paralyzed so it’s hard to think of the small things but I’ve restrained myself from doing any big shopping trips at the stores and staying out of the thrift stores which is my weakness. We got 2 DVD’s 2021 movies from the library free. Our dog will need a wheelchair husband has been watching many you tube channels and is going to make her one himself, it should cost us around $30 versus $80 and up to order one. We are also restraining ourselves from buying a lot of Christmas things this year and what we bought was either practical or things made in the USA by American Craftsmen. I was able over the weekend to hang clothes outside and am hanging what I can in my basement with our dog who has to be helped go potty now we are using old thin towels instead of being store bought pee pads I hang them outside to dry till it’s time to do laundry so they aren’t smelly in the house and I’m not doing washing as much. Frugal is not buying those throw away pads and better for the environment as they have plastic in them and are not degradable. I also did research on the meds that she will have to take.. one through our Vet is $77 I researched a small family owned drug store that does compounding they were able to get the price down to $44 a month. Another one she needed they could only get down to $40 something I rechecked with my Vet and said is there something comparable that we can get cheaper?? He gave me a brand to order online through 1800 Pet Meds it’s only $20 something it is a prescription that he had to authorize but that saved us another $20 a month. Anna In Ohio

    1. Hi Anna,
      Sorry about your little dog. Is it a dachshund? They are notorious for back problems because they’ve been bred with those long backs to satisfy people. I’d like to suggest acupuncture– we had a rabbit with back problems and it helped him immensely.
      Also, the old-fashioned chucks with the water-proofing on one side and quilting on the other side are great and washable. Some thrift stores have used ones and I believe they aren’t very expensive on ebay (last I checked).

      Wishing you and your dog well.

      1. Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers, which required them to get into holes. That was the original reason for their length. My husband’s family had several doxies for pets, and we had a neighbor that had them, too. I can’t speak for all doxies, but many are allowed to get very fat. My husband’s parents fed their dogs tidbits from the table and if they stopped for a hamburger, the dog got a hamburger, too. When my MIL lived with us, we had to stop her from feeding our dog from the table. This did not go down well, because she saw herself as making the dog happy.

        When our dog (not a doxie) had surgery for a torn ACL, the vet told us “a skinny old dog lives a lot longer than a fat old dog.” The vet gave us a target weight, which was the low end of normal. Lulu was a Lab/golden retriever and wasn’t overweight, but we skinnied her up by measuring her food and gradually reducing how much we fed her. She lived to be 15, which is an amazing lifespan for those breeds. Since then, we have always measured our dogs’ food, and none of them have been overweight.

        1. Hi Maxine,
          Yes, they were bred that way but, like with most breeds, humans have exaggerated dogs’ characteristics beyond that needed for utility and now we’ve caused problems . If you look up how boxers and bulldogs originally looked, it’s clear how we’ve messed them up.
          I agree about the weight (it goes for cats and rabbits, too). We have a rescued part-collie dog that we knew had bad hips when we adopted her and we keep her thin enough that it’s easy to feel her ribs. That, and the myriad supplements she gets , has kept her doing very well at 12!

    2. Hello, for you or anyone else who needs medication, definitely check to see if there is a human equivalent and perhaps check out GoodRx. I’ve had excellent luck using them to save money on prescriptions for our English Bulldog.

  22. That’s a great gas bill, Brandy! The service fee alone on ours is near $20 (typical here), and the lowest bills I get are around $30 in the summer, when we’re not using heat. I have a gas range and maybe water heater, too (I really can’t remember), and heat runs on gas, but everything else electric.

    It definitely does NOT feel like a frugal week around here with Christmas purchases, car repairs, a hospital bill, and several other surprises. But I’m determined to keep trying! You all are so inspiring!

    *Meals we ate this week were pan sauteed tilapia with baked potatoes and broccoli, homemade pizza, crockpot bbq chicken sandwiches, split pea soup with cornbread, chili, sesame chicken with rice, and a simple buttered noodles with salad.

    *Costco had whole pork loins for $1.99/lb, plus $8 off the total price. So I looked for the smallest one (6.35 lbs), which had a total price of $12.64 on the tag, but with the $8 discount I only paid $4.64. I don’t love pork loin, but this was the best deal on any kind of meat I’ve seen in awhile, and I can cut it in half to get two large meals out of it. I think this is one of their monthly deals, so I may pick up another one the next time I’m in. Also got a 25 lb bag of rice for $9.79 and a 6-pack of Romaine hearts for $4.89 (a good deal in my area).

    *My Kroger pickup order came with 2 dented cans of salmon. I called to let them know, so now I’ll get a credit for them on my next order. I would’ve preferred a refund, but this is how Kroger does it. I will still be able to use the salmon, though (they don’t make you return it), so I guess it works out.

    *Went to Walmart for a few items, including a toy (Kinetic Sand Dino Dig) my daughter needed to purchase for a charity drive. When I looked it up on the Walmart app before going to the store, it was listed as $9.16 (marked down from $19.97), but at the store it rang up as the higher price. By showing the cashier the price on the app, they were able to give it to me for the cheaper price.

    *I’ve decided to hold off on moving my garden beds for now, since I’ve got some kale that’s coming up. I’ve never grown any cool season crops, but a few years back I remember a friend saying hers grew all winter the one year she grew it. So we’ll see how it goes this year!

  23. I made turkey noodle soup and cranberry sauce muffins 18 ct. to finish off leftovers. When I took the muffins out of the oven I told DS they smelled good, like Christmas, not even understanding why I said that. He went into the kitchen and said, “Mom, they smell like the Cinnabon stores at the big malls.” I realized he was exactly right. We always loved to go to an out of town mall during the Christmas season to shop small stores for odd things, see what’s new, enjoy the decorations and merry go round with music. Since we haven’t been for two years that made sense. The muffins were good so I am glad I bought extra sauce and cranberries. I baked some turkey bacon. We ate precooked things most of the rest of the week from the freezer.

    I boxed some items that I want to find homes for and straightened more. I cleared texts, emails and other unnecessary things from my phone and computer. I unsubscribed from emails. As I have been decluttering and catching up I think of other things I just don’t care to keep anymore. I never got this far behind and seasons in life change. I wish the weird joy I get from paring down was more contagious. I am still sewing. I ordered and received the spices I wanted.

    We got our booster shots Wednesday night. Thursday I was cold and could not stay awake, and my taste was off later. Friday I felt better but slow. DS had a temperature, sleepy, joint pain, and taste was off. DH was just tired and made eggs for dinner Thursday night. It was very cold (25 below normal) most of last week. The end of the week walks were wonderful.

    Have a great week.

    1. Linda, I had to laugh about your “weird joy” in paring things down. I totally get it! I’m that way, too. 😊

  24. Our holiday celebrations began with Advent last week. My youngest son set out our Advent candles (which we already had) and surrounded them with evergreens and pinecones from our property. All free and a beautiful way to celebrate as we light them during our meals. We also made a grapevine wreath from vines we trimmed back this Fall and added evergreen cuttings around the edge. It is hanging on the fence at the end of our driveway and looks very festive – also all free materials. We put more foraged greenery on our mailbox post and tied it with ribbon I already had in my stash. Other outdoor decorating will be done when we have our annual Christmas for the Animals day. Sometime during Advent, we make birdseed ornaments and dip PB covered pinecones in seed and hang them with ribbons from trees near the house so we can enjoy watching the birds have their special treat. We also put out a new mineral salt block for the deer. This is purchased from our local feed store and costs very little for the enjoyment we get of watching the deer while we eat breakfast.
    We celebrate St. Nicholas Day (which is today.) My children put out carrots for the horse (from our garden) and cookies we made out along with their boots. They received their traditional gifts – a handwritten note from St. Nicholas, a clementine, a few chocolate coins, 2 candy canes and a pair of wool socks. All of these things were handmade or purchased very inexpensively. A good reminder to me that celebrations need not cost a lot to be meaningful. We continue this kind of celebrating throughout Advent and Christmas and are looking forward to more joyful occasions.
    I am reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah and love it. I have read so much about the Dust Bowl and Depression eras but I get a new perspective with each tale (fiction or non-fiction) I read. This one has well-conceived characters you really begin to care about and I am eager to see how their story turns out. I had jury duty today and has a little extra time during the breaks to lose myself in this tale.
    Other than that, we continue to do the usual things but it is those routine, small habits that make a difference – cooking from scratch, limiting waste, and practicing contentment.
    Hope everyone has a lovely week!

    1. I read that book in 2 days!!! I couldn’t put it down and was sobbing at the end. All her books are fantastic.

      1. Yes, I was surprised to see just how many books she has written and I had never heard of her. When I find an author I like, I usually try to read everything they have written. It’s a fun rabbit hole to go down. Thanks for commenting!

  25. Wow! That is a great natural gas bill! I’ve been wearing layers and turning our air down a little bit. We have been cooking at home for the most part. I hope to make more soups to spread the budget and keep us warm. We are using beans in several meals. I borrowed a book from the library for entertainment.

  26. My gas, electricity, water, and garbage, composting and recycling removal totalled $400. It wasn’t a really cold
    month but the furnace was on quite often. One of my furnaces is a high energy modulating furnace so it comes on quite often anyway. The big win for me was on electricity. I gave up the last two years of my 5 year contract at 6.59 cents per kilowatt hour and tied in at 6.89 cents per kwhr. When I spoke with the utility company,
    yesterday, I was told that this month the rate was 11.99 cents per kwhr so my rate would have been close to double had I not tied in. I also tied in my natural gas for 5 years (although I can terminate it at any time and go back to floating). I came out even on that at about $4.09 per gigajoule. I only have two natural gas furnaces, and a natural gas hot water heater. The house has cathedral ceilings so needs a separate furnace for the basement. The downside is that
    it is more expensive to have two furnaces but the plus side is that it makes the unfinished basement a very pleasant space. I did turn down my furnaces and saved 5 gigajoules. One has to be careful and not turn the furnaces down below the temperature recommended by the furnace manufacturer. If it gets too low, condensation will form and the heat exchanger is at risk of rusting out and dying prematurely. That is very expensive both in parts and labour. (It happened to me with a defectively designed heat exchanger so I now buy 10 year parts and labour warranties). (Within 2 years of installation, a new furnace needed a new motor which cost me nothing due to the parts and labour warranty).

    My friend picked up my Instant Pot nova blender cooker for me. It is very heavy. I hope to take it out of the box tomorrow after I hopefully finish the book. Once out of the box, it shouldn’t have to be moved often as it has a self-cleaning function. I foresee lots of soup in my future. It was $39.99 reduced from $149.99. All the reviews I’ve read about it have been positive.

    brandy, I too batch bake to save the cost of electricity. If I am cooking meat, I make sure I bake potatoes and sweet potatoes at the same time. Shortly, I’ll also bake bread at the same time.

    The paper for printing our book is stuck on a ship in the Port of Vancouver due to the weather and flooding problems in B.C. It is a minor problem given all the disasters in B.C. We informed everyone who had pre-ordered it that it won’t be printed by Christmas and everyone has been super supportive and kind in the replies.

  27. November was a spendy month with people visiting, medical expenses, birthdays and travel to our kids. This week I decided to put off food shopping and I had a rustle through the freezer instead. I found plenty for meals, which made me feel quite rich. I have a tomato plant that I’m trying to overwinter under plastic, and we have had 2 tomatoes from it this week. What a treat for December! I’ve been catching up with garden tasks and have found 3 volunteer tomato seedlings (all potted now and under the plastic with the bigger plant) and volunteer flower seedlings (also potted to grow bigger and be put in new locations in the spring). This also feels like riches. I have planted some of the cuttings that I had been growing in pots over the summer. I also planted raspberry bushes that had been given to me.
    I ordered a photo mug from Shutterfly for 50% off and free shipping. It came to a total of $9.50, which pleased me.
    I ordered gifts for family in England from shops there that offered free shipping. I paid with the credit card we have that has no foreign transaction fees. I’ve found this to be the most economical way to give gifts to those overseas since postage became so high.
    I’m trying to spend a bit more time each week on home maintenance. This week I’ve cleaned the dishwasher trap, run the stove hood vents through the dishwasher (with full load), and descaled the electric kettle.
    Happy December to all!

  28. I meant to mention that I usually treat myself to a gourmet maple flavoured ham twice a year from a certain store.
    At the moment the store has free delivery. Since the shelf life is well into January, I will get the ham now. It will cost $30 but I have $30 worth of points so it will cost me nothing. Also the store gives out free gift certificates to certain postal codes. One year it was tourtiere, another year it was apple strudel, yet another year it was a different dessert.
    This year it is three jars of dips — a salsa, a hummus etc. So I’ll get free delivery, a free ham, and a free set of three dips.
    I think with the new blender/cooker it will be very easy for me to make hummus and I plan to have it often at lunch.

  29. Several weeks ago I fractured my foot and now spend most of my days on crutches or sedentary. That experience and the related ER and ortho bills weren’t money savers, but I have discovered an approach to grocery shopping that’s working well for us.

    We now use curbside at our local grocery store and it’s been a lifesaver. There’s no added fee, we can pick up as soon as a couple hours after placing our order, and we’ve been very pleased with the items received.

    The best part is it’s saved poor hubby from having to shop alone with a long list.

    We typically buy store brands and if they are out of stock, we get brand name replacements at store brand prices.

    It’s been so wonderful to get all our needed items while I’m temporarily unable to walk and shop.

    We’ve also used Walmart curbside for non grocery items and that service is also great.

    Not being in store and succumbing to impulse buys is a big cost saver as well!

    This week hubby is changing the oil and filter in our car, rather than having it done by and paying others for the service.

    I’m planning our family’s Christmas lunch menu utilizing items we mostly have on handcrafted… a ham in the freezer, and dressing and side dishes with ingredients already in our pantry and freezer. Hopefully the only item we’ll buy is vanilla ice cream for topping brownies and pies.

    Wishing everyone a fun and frugal week!

  30. We have an all electric house, electric baseboard heat, electric dryer/water tank/refrigerator- no gas line to the house actually
    I actually prefer it, set thermostat and nice even heat, we do 60 during the day and I feel great with sweater and slippers then turn it down at night, our bill runs between 100 a month to 200 in at least 2 mos of coldest weather each year
    We have replaced all our windows and door, foam insulation and use lined curtains in winter, summer we have ac approximately 70 degrees setting with ceiling fan. Water is very inexpensive for us approximately $20 per month- no restrictions, gas is $3.49 per gal
    I live by lake ontario in New York Finger lakes area
    We do all our own mowing, gardening and pay for plowing because we live on a hill
    We are trying to keep pantry stocked and because of Brandy we did a garden this year and intend to increase next year
    I saved for an bought a cubic foot freezer this year to help with storing food

    1. If I kept my a/c at 70 in the summer my bill would be $1000 a month. We have six months of a/c use. I keep it at 79 and it is around $350 in the summer. I know people who pay $800 to $1200 a month in the summer here.

      Summer is the expensive time here.

      Water is very expensive here; in the summer my bill was almost $300 before we redid the garden. They have raised the rates so much over the last few years (we had reduced our usage and our bill still went up almost $100!) and the water district here just pledged to spend $20 million just in 2022 to pay off farmers in Arizona to not water their fields. This is part of the additional 500,000-acre feet per year that three states are doing to try to keep enough water in the lake so that we don’t run out of water. I am really glad we are using less water with the new design, as I am certain they will have to raise rates tremendously to pay for this (plus I am glad to be using less water). This is just the first of 5 years they have pledged, and it is in addition to the 500,000-acre feet that the three states agreed would be saved each year. The worry is that all of this is not enough to keep Lake Mead from going dry. The hard part for Nevadans is that most of the water is used by Californians.

      I think it’s wonderful that you can stay warm at 60 degrees in the house. I always find it interesting that people in colder climates can tolerate keeping the house colder in winter and those in hot climates can keep the house warmer in summer.

      1. We were shocked to see the Rio Grand River totally dry when we were in Las Cruces, NM in March of this year. We were told by locals that it was due to climate change and century-old water rights agreements made with ranchers. They’re allowed to cut off the water supply. It was such a sad sight.

        1. I read so much about the Colorado River, Lake Mead, and Lake Powell, but not about the Rio Grande. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Hello Brandy and everyone
    You’re doing a great job keeping your utility bills down, I must try a bit harder. Good deals on the glasses and clothing too.
    This week my daughter was visiting some old friends so I was able to send presents with her, saving the cost of postage.
    I have sewn more reusable fabric gift bags and also used two pretty Christmas cushion covers by opening the zip, popping present inside, closing up and tying the top with a big salvaged ribbon making them look like bags.
    My husband completed an online health survey for our insurance company and received £30 in shopping vouchers.
    I was able to ‘shop’ in my gift box for a hostess gift and in my craft box for some Christmas fun for the children of the hostess.
    I picked flowers from the garden for the house. We are entering the gap between autumn flowers and spring bulbs so I will just use attractive foliage etc for a while if need be and I will make a Christmas wreath soon.
    We planted more tulips and wallflowers in the garden and I potted up two more bowls of prepared hyacinths which will bloom inside.
    I made up seed packets with seed saved from the garden which I will tie into pretty bundles and gift to our daughters.
    Yorkshire tea was on a deal this week, reduced from £6 to £4 so I stocked up.
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. I love the idea of using a Christmas themed cushion cover as a gift bag with the ribbon to draw it in like a sack. It’s like a bonus extra gift for the recipient. Thank you for the idea.

  32. Wow Brandy, you did so well with your gas bill. We live in cold and snowy NY and we saw a therm increase of about 45% on our most recent bill. Our basic meter charge is $ 17.30 a month for gas before we even use any. I am grateful that we were able to conserve a bit but our gas bill was still higher than last year. We did save 98 KWH of electricity though. Every little bit helps. You can read more about it on my blog: https://frugalthingseveryday.com/2021/11/23/the-utility-bill-has-arrived/
    I also blogged about how we are trying to save hoping that it would help my readers.

    Your pictures are so beautiful! You have reminded me that I need to buy some butternut squash.

    I wish you and your family a Blessed Christmas and New Year.

    1. I hope you can find a good price on the squash! It has been so expensive at the store lately!

      Your blog looks so different now! I like the color!

    2. I like the hot water heater timer you listed on one of the other tip blogs. That would certainly encourage members of my family to use hot water more sparingly. I flip ours off at the breaker during vacations and at night for a long time until DH’s schedule required him to get up much earlier than anyone else. I never thought to use my electric skillet for baking biscuits per a commenter. Mine is old but probably cheaper than the toaster oven.

      Our TV and everything that goes with it is flipped off with a wall switch overnight and other times when it is not used. That one thing they did when building the house has saved a lot of money cutting off phantom power over the years.

  33. Congratulations on your gas bill, I wish we had gas in our neighborhood…we are all electric and as you mentioned, we live in the desert too so summers are the crazy expensive time of year. For frugal accomplishments, I did an updated freezer inventory and did meal planning. I found three chicken carcasses (plus the one turkey carcass from thanksgiving), so have the basis for soups for the next few months when needed ;). As another reader mentioned, I have most of my 2022 budget nailed down, and it is considerably tighter than this year (we did lots of home maintenance this year). Gas in Phoenix is $4.00/gallon, sigh. On the positive side, the weather is glorious, our pantry is in good shape and we have started exercising and stretching again, so we are on an upswing this holiday season. Thank you again for this blog, it is a bright spot in the world today!

  34. That is an amazing gas bill. My husband had a gas stove in his apartment when he worked out of town for several years. It heated and cooled fast, but I couldn’t get it set to a low enough point to simmer slowly, plus it stained his pans, so I have mixed opinions about gas cooking. However, there is no natural gas line where our house is, out in the country, and propane is always expensive here plus the delivery is not reliable, so our house is all electric.

    I installed a hybrid heat pump type water heater last year to save energy, and now that the weather is cooled and I use the heater, I keep the thermostats turned down during the day, when no one is home, setting the program on the second floor heater to warm that level only at the times I’m getting up and dressed or getting ready for bed. I’m consistently showing less usage than last year, so far.

    I mentioned some time ago that my Seminole Pumpkin vine never produced. After months and months of male blooms only, it has produced two little pumpkins! I am trying to protect it to let them mature. The vine doesn’t handle cold well at all, normally. I have frost cloth and a grow lightbulb on the plant.

    I hung out or hung up five loads of laundry this weekend.

    I made another five gallon bucket of laundry soap.

    My husband’s things sometimes need sanitizing when I bring them home from his assisted living facility to clean. I use inexpensive pine cleaner, which kills most germs, instead of the pricey sanitizers.

    I used frozen meat I had picked off the bones of a roasted chicken and frozen chicken stock made from the bones of another chicken to make homemade chicken soup. All I had to add were a few fresh chopped vegetables.

    Instead of taking a long time to cook a pork butt roast in the oven, I de-boned it, cut it in chunks and pressure cooked it on the stove top. Coming up to pressure, cooking and de-pressurizing time was only 50 minutes, and 15 of those minutes were with the stove turned off.

    I bought ripe bananas at 50 cents off per pound. I’m going to freeze some and make gluten-free banana bread with some.

    I turned in another doctor visit for my husband that qualifies for wellness rewards, and got two $10 gift cards for Publix.

    I did an in-home test that I qualified for through Swagbucks, and just received $20 for the written survey portion of it, and may be eligible for more, if I’m chosen for a follow up survey. I also shopped for work through Swagbucks, to earn extra “bucks.” I had $3.98 deposited in my SB account just yesterday from a purchase made a month ago.

    Is anyone seeing prices drop back down for ham or turkey, now that Christmas is near?

  35. It hasn’t been a big saving week here.
    I had a mole removed from my back and tomorrow will have a sonogram and x-ray. These are to check lumps. No big deal to me. I just worry about the cost.
    I have chatted with my ins. lady and decided that I would stay with my current ins. sublimit since my meds will still be no cost to me.
    All you older folks check your insurance and all you can get. Sometimes you have to ask to get what you need.
    We are staying home as much as possible. This saves us more money than you think. No wear and tear on your car. No gas to run around. No spur of the moment buying of food or things.
    We, as a family, have made the decision to not do much gift-giving for Christmas. My 17-year-old grandchild said it was hard to make a big deal out of Christmas now. I laughed and said it was because he was too old to believe in the magic right now and too young to make the magic.
    We will have a big, yummy dinner for Christmas. We are decorating…this week. Only small gifties will be exchanged this year.
    Everyone, except me, has had an upper respiratory infection. The youngest boy has been treated and is well. The other two people are still terrible. Doc said it was virial…so not much to do, but slog through it.
    My gas bill almost doubled last month. Being in Texas I have always wanted gas in my house. If you have all-electric and you lose it for a day or three in the winter it can be bad. Last year reinforced my belief in keeping gas. I will have to find another way to cut down.
    It was 31 degrees this morning. My house is cold, but I can cover up with a blanket when I am sitting down. It is supposed to be in the 80s again later this week.
    I will be buying food this week and will hopefully find some good deals for the month.
    Thanks to all of you for your posts. I learn something every week here.

    1. I love gas for the control when cooking! I do not care for cooking at electric at all. I have done that in some places where I lived and am very grateful for gas here.

      I also like that we have a way to cook even if there is no power. That has been very nice in my life more than once.

      1. I’ve had a few houses that were all electric. I much prefer gas. After the grid failed last winter here in Texas I am more determined to keep both gas and electric.
        I want to say that I do love your photography Brandy. It really is amazing.
        You and your husband are doing wonderful things with your yard.

      2. I agree, Brandy. We have a gas stove and it’s very handy when the power goes out. Over Thanksgiving i cooked at my sons house where he has electric. I burned both hands on the inside ceiling of the oven, forgetting there were elements there.

  36. I’m so impressed by your gas bill! Goes to show what a concentrated effort to cut utility use can do.

    My frugal week:
    – I made holiday fudge (www.approachingfood.com/three-ingredient-peppermint-white-chocolate-fudge). I like to make cookie tins for friends and family each year, but by making it more of a ‘candy’ tin, I can spread out the cooking over several weeks without having elements go stale. Plus, no need to buy all the ingredients in one go! I used leftover candy canes from last year. 
    – I took Christmas photos of my daughters with a home photoshoot. They turned out soooo well! I wrapped and stacked empty boxes in coordinating wrapping paper from the dollar store, then positioned my daughters beside it. I put a metal card holder tree and an artfully draped blanket (both things my mum had in her house) behind them. My eldest wore a holiday top gifted to her and jeans, and my youngest wore a holiday top and jeans I had traded for years ago. She also wore a Santa hat I bought when my eldest was a baby. By having them wear jeans, they only needed to have holiday tops, so the only items I actually purchased for the photoshoot was the top for my baby, wrapping paper, and some hair bows. Then I edited the photos using the free Lightroom app. They nearly look professional, and it was definitely frugal! 
    – I reused the wrapping paper from the photoshoot to wrap presents
    – redeemed Swagbucks for $10 to my PayPal account
    – redeemed loyalty rewards for several baked goods for a no money OOP mummy daughter date at Starbucks 
    – did some frugal Christmas activities with my toddler: looking at Christmas blowup outside a mall, and looking at Christmas decorations (and listening to carolers!) at another mall. We also wrote and mailed a letter to Santa (no postage needed in Canada). And finally, I printed out a nativity scene and made it a stand-up set to play with. No cost, but lots of holiday spirit for my little!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

  37. We’re actually having someone come out from the gas company to do a home energy audit because our bill is so much higher than expected, especially since we keep the house pretty cool in winter –around 63 to 65 degrees. And, because they took awhile to get back to me about the appointment, they actually waived the $25 audit fee, which was a nice bonus! I’m hoping it helps us to figure out where we’re losing so much heat.

    That’s an amazing gas bill for the winter! Mine is often around $20 (or a little less) in the summer, but anytime we use our heat, it tends to skyrocket. We had one last year that was over $200! I’m a little nervous about the rate hikes, but I know we’ll learn to manage.

    1. We’re not quite winter yet–only fall. We had highs in the low 70’s. For some readers, those are summer temperatures! Still, even my summer bills aren’t this low.

      My February bill is usually the highest, as January is the coldest month here.

  38. ***I am thankful our weather has not been as cold as normal. I am not able to keep our home at a lower temperature having my MIL here, she still is cold having it set at 72 during the day. Our bill for electric, water, gas. and trash was $236.
    ***I am using the air fryer instead of the oven on many things. I have even done biscuits and cinnamon rolls in it with success.
    ***This was my 3rd week where I did not go grocery shopping. My pantries are full, but I always want to buy items I use at the lowest prices. I’ve just been too busy to shop, which makes having what we need nice; I don’t have to go out.
    ***I picked up the quarter cow we purchased. It was $4.65 a pound for grass-fed beef. I got 19 steaks, 8 roasts, brisket, ribs, 5 packages of cubed steak, 3 packages of stew meat, 25# ground, and bones. I asked if they had the bones and he showed me then told his son to get another package for me. I will make a lot of bone broth with them. We made muffin meatloaves and it was so good. I will definitely order again.
    ***We hosted a party for our church group. I made taco soup, deviled eggs, and corn muffins from my pantry. I got a Bath and Body candle, and I am sensitive to smells, so will use it for another party I am having next week. It saves me having to shop for that gift exchange.
    ***I had tea, crackers, bowls, and cheese people left from the party.
    ***My house was clean, but hosting made me get everything decorated quickly rather than start and leave items laying around to do. Now I am ready for the kids to all come home and will be able to just relax the rest of the season.
    ***I hang my clothes and have been using the steamer on my tops that need it. I used to throw them in the dryer with a damp rag 5- 10 minutes to de-wrinkle. I don’t know if it saves but does a better job on some things.

  39. It has turned very cold here in Minnesota (12 this morning) and I am grateful for my warm home, my hoodie and slippers, and that I don’t have to go out today. It is snowing, which is pretty. All we’ve done so far by way of decorations is to hang the wreath outside that we purchased from the Scouts. We need to get on that. I won’t be buying any new decorations. We have an artificial tree and years of ornaments and decorations stored. Once I finally get up the gumption, I know I’ll enjoy the memories that come from all the old decorations.

    Last week I finished a pair of socks, a hat and a pair of mittens for gifts. All I have left is one pair of mittens and an afghan. This has been fun but I’m excited to create without a deadline after this. So glad I started in September!

    I am using Christmas cards I bought last year. I’m handwriting a little blurb in them this year. I use to do the picture cards with a letter, but not anymore. I love receiving cards, so still want to send something to let people know they matter to me. It’s just a lot simpler now.

    Just finished Carnegie’s Maid from the Library. It was recommended here some months ago and I really enjoyed it so thank you! Love the library!!

    So much sickness here, so I’m still doing grocery pickup. This week I had three substitutions and all were larger versions of what I ordered, but for the lower price. So that was nice.

    When the kids were home we always did an advent of some sort. This year I saw the idea that if you read one chapter in Luke every day, you finish on Christmas Even (since there are 24 chapters in Luke) and read about his whole life leading up to Christmas. This is simple and free and I’ve been enjoying very much and it’s keeping my mind on the Savior.

    I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season.

  40. Impressive utility bill! Thrifty action was scooping up a red berry swag that was thrown out to the curb, on a neighborhood walk. Used every part of the swag-berries, stars, etc on our front door thrift store evergreen wreath. Passing along a conversation I had with my librarian at the public library…said our libraries are going to follow the Eurolibrary model and will move to all digital. So he said, if you like the hard copy books, better buy them for your home libraries now. I asked what the Eurolibrary model was and he said it was a small space, with a kiosk that to check out your digital downloads on…no people, desks, chairs, etc. as we know libraries today. Anyway, reading a teen book that is excellent ( seeing if I want to buy it for grandchildren) Between the Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys ( WWII, Russia, Lithuania).
    Finally, our leaves are falling so putting them into mulch bin.

    1. Oh, my! While I can appreciate the efficiency of the Eurolibrary model as you described, I hope not all libraries are headed that way. I love the feel of a book in my hand. There’s just something satisfying about turning a page. Thanks for the heads-up. I don’t need much encouragement to expand my library – frugally, of course.

      1. I agree! I have been seeing large carts on rollers, full of library books stamped with public library in the Goodwill. When I see a classic or a known good book, I purchase it.

    2. The book was turned into a 2019 movie called Ashes in the Snow. If you have Prime, you can watch it for free. Subtitled.

    3. Oh, that just makes my heart ache. Libraries are so much more than just books. Whose horrible idea was that?

      1. I am not sure as that is a question I should have asked. Maybe it is coming from the National Public Library or maybe it is local…I will have to read and ask, on how local libraries make decisions.

  41. Our weather has been quite lovely until today. The rain is pouring and it has turned quite chilly. The monies in my account flowed quite quickly this week. I paid the monthly bills, paid my house taxes and an unexpected $600.00 car repair. In need of a rental car , my options were zero. While broke down in the grocery store parking lot , I realized a U Haul lot was next door. For the low sum of 19.99 a day, I rented a small truck. My personal car insurance and bank card got the $50.00 insurance fee waived. My father is still laughing at me. I’m simply old and have few options for getting help out in the rural area where I live. I ordered batteries from Office Max and received 100% rebates back. I used the rebate to order trash bags. I intended to buy a pack of chicken wings to add to my bones to make chicken broth. I quickly realized that at $5.00 a pound that wasn’t going to happen. I settled for 5 pounds of chicken thighs for the same price. My son has a birthday coming in a few days. We bought a Thanksgiving day cake from Kroger. They were half price and fresh from the freezer. All though fresh baked would have been nice , most stores here no longer bake them and few even ice them. I’m happy I had enough money to cover my expenses this month without going into my savings. Being frugal every day gives me a small amount of peace when the surprises arise. Have a great week dear friends.

    1. Thank you. Son 2 just told us his car had to go in for repairs and we can’t lend ours (like usual) due to 6 different doctor appts. I texted him this and he just came back he was going to check into it.

    2. That is pure genius to rent a U Haul truck for basic transportation. Rental cars are expensive. I priced them last summer for a trip. Turo was cheaper but not as cheap as the U Haul. I’ll tell my girlfriends next summer when we go on our girls’ trip we will go in a U Haul!

      1. I used the smallest cube van that UHaul rented at the time for camping. Worked great when I added my own folding chairs, some sleeping mats and kitchen gear.

  42. I forgot to mention our Dollar General bargain last week. We only drink juice that is no sugar added. We used a $5 off $25 to buy 8 64 oz. juices: 5 Motts apple juice (2.37 ea.) and 3 Clover Valley Grape juice ($2.13 ea.) plus a couple of small items we needed. Total price $20.05 without tax. Milk was picked up earlier in the week by DH on the way home from work.

  43. Last week, we had a quieter week than normal. It felt great! We did spend some time with grandkids and worked 3 days but actually had a couple of days to do things around the house. It felt great to decorate with things we already had, put up the little artificial tree that is the only tree that fits in our house now, and enjoy a wreath my sister hung on our door as a surprise.

    It was a week to clean the fridge. By Friday night, it was seriously empty even though I pulled some frozen and pantry items and did some cooking beyond the leftovers that were in there. I bought a few bananas and a couple other things. I actually don’t need to shop until next week now so I will do a larger shop then. I guess there was more Thanksging food left than I thought and I was worried it would waste.

    I’ve noticed price increases at the store as everyone else has and stretching my times between trips causes everyone here to eat more home-canned fruit, and forces me to really be creative and utilize what I’ve worked so hard to grow and preserve and my pantry items I’ve purchased on good sales. This will also leave plenty in the grocery budget to buy special Christmas food.

  44. Made three kinds of soup in the last two weeks. Chicken tortilla, Turkey vegetable with noodles, and potato corn chowder. All had something from the garden in them. Like onions, carrots, garlic, corn, potatoes and/or black beans. I love putting our garden produce to work. Have used all my frozen broth now.
    We dug the last of the potatoes on Friday, now we have snow. We had the last two hills covered with tarps. This was an experiment. The ground was still soft when we uncovered it. We got about 15 pounds from those last two hills.
    Made homemade pizza, using the focaccia bread recipe from budget bytes as the base. Makes a nice chewy crust. Also made 2 lasagnas, a dozen hardboiled eggs, and a batch of savory muffins each time I made soup.
    Cut DH’s hair on a nice day.
    Took the week of Thanksgiving off from work, but did 16 hours of continuing education. I still have about 20 hours to do before the end of the year.
    We had a quiet Thanksgiving, just the two of us, which was really nice. I needed it.
    Hope everyone has a good week.

  45. Well done on lower your gas bill so much Brandy! Wow!

    Our latest water bill showed fruit in our efforts to lower our water bill, it was more that 50% less! We’ve had loads of rain so I haven’t had to water the garden in over a week. Diesel has gone up again, bringing the total 2021 increases to 45% higher than the start of this year. So, we are rethinking our driving habits again too and combining errands with fierce intention.

    The garden is producing loads of zucchini, Patti pans, Swiss chard, kale, tomatoes, green beans, and cabbages. The bell peppers and hot peppers (chillies) are starting, hopefully eggplant soon too. I have several beautiful butternut and Hubbard squash on the vines and truly look forward to harvesting those in a few months. I’m trying to plan my meals around this essentially free food from my garden, and also enjoy sharing the produce with friends and neighbors. I’m also chopping and freezing excess zucchini ( I add it to a lot of my recipes). I used Black Friday deals to stock the pantry well with some basics like rice, sugar, peanut butter, flour, eggs, and butter in the freezer. Pasta has gone up terribly, and we eat a lot of it.

    We’ve simplified Christmas quite a bit which hasn’t been hard to do, as we are all really tired. It’s been a tough second half of the year, and paring back seems wise for more than financial reasons. With the rise in COVID numbers again, we’re probably headed into another lockdown next week (in South Africa), so I’m just thankful to have my family with me and a stocked pantry, and every thing we need right here at home.

  46. I had a few nice savings and many blessings last week. On the way home from my contract job, I stopped at a discount (scratch and ding) grocery store. I found some lovely dark chocolate and sea salt caramels marked down to $1.49 a package and bought one as a treat. I bought pears for .49 (I only bought a few because they were getting marred), herbs for .50 a package, and a few other things. At the dairy section, they had quarts of eggnog and half pints of whipping cream marked FREE. They were very close to their sell by date. I picked up one of each, wanting the share the wealth with others. At the checkout stand, the woman behind me had picked up 150 half pints of cream and they let her have them. So no limit!

    When I got home, my husband and I tried the caramels and he loved them, so we went back and bought 24 bags to give to his colleagues. I also picked up another eggnog and four half pints of whipping cream. I am the only eggnog drinker in the house and it’s a bit rich, so I have been using it in my tea.

    I am also very grateful that I avoided a major injury. I was ice skating and my feet fell out from under me and I hit my head. No blood, but a big goose egg. I’ve been using ice and heat but have pretty much been without pain. I kept checking for signs of concussion or whiplash, but am basically symptom free. Each day I feel better, except lying flat on my back is hard because of the bruise there.

    Enjoy your week and holiday preparations.

    1. WOW!

      I don’t know if you know, but not only can you freeze cream (for cooking) but if you make whipped cream, you can put small amounts on silicone baking mats on a pan in a freezer and freeze them. They can then be pulled out and used on pie, hot chocolate, etc.

  47. You all do so great that I feel silly posting my little bits! But I find that keeping track inspires me to keep at it!
    * My pasta was a rice and beans dish. It was too warm for soup so I made a couple of salads instead.
    * My husband’s good winter jacket had an issue with the zipper hood and wanted to repair it. My sewing machine couldn’t handle it so he asked if the dry cleaners had an alterations person. The clerk said they did and would charge $40 to replace the zipper. Then she whispered that there was an alterations shop on the next block that was much more affordable. Husband went there to ask. She said she could remove the zipper and attach the hood, if he didn’t remove it regularly. He never does. So, she did for a whopping charge of TWO DOLLARS!!! Saved $38!!
    * With the oddly warm weather, little use of furnace and no A/C.
    * Bought a Red Robin GC at market for fuel points. We have our annual *fancy* anniversary dinner there.
    * Borrowed Anne of Green Gables and the sequel from the library to watch over the weekend. We finished the old Upstairs Downstairs series. It was very enjoyable. I saw PBS was showing something called Land Girls over the weekend. I’d like to look into that and see more about it. It looked to be a WW2 drama.

    Add me to the list of gas range people. I despise our electric stove! I always had gas in Cali so I was unprepared for how much I’d dislike electric!! I like fire!! If we ever remodel the kitchen, that’s on the list of changes!! We also had spiral burners on our first stove here. Our current stove is glass top because of everyone recommending it. Pthbbbt!! I hate that even more!!! That’s the 3rd thing people have raved about that have been utterly disappointing! First was a bagless vacuum. I’m happily back to bags. They’re cheaper than inhalers!! Second was front loading washers. I didn’t buy one but had the opportunity to use one for a week. Nope, they’re not for me. The one I used was also one of the very highly rated brands. I ran the same load 3 times and could still smell cigarette smoke. I finally used my top loader once and it smelled clean. I don’t think the front loaders use enough water. Not my intention to start an appliance war, but newer is not always better in my opinion! (No, I’m not a smoker. I had a relative coming and her clothing triggered my asthma so I needed to wash it all).

    I was also sad to read about the Rio Grande being dry! I have relatives in Cruces and the Rio was always so big! I haven’t been in some years. Not to date myself, but I had some fun times in my youth there!! Loved cruising El Paseo Blvd. with my cousins!! Did I get that Blvd name right?

    I thank everyone for sharing!! Have a good week!

    1. I also really dislike glass-top stoves.

      I LOVE my front loading washer, though! The smaller amount of water is very nice living where water is so much money, and it spins my clothes really dry, so they dry faster in my dryer or if they are hung. I also love that it has no agitator. I had a lot of clothes ruined that were stuck on the agitator I find it easier to wash bedding as well.

      I also like my bagless vacuum! But the children empty it; I don’t like that part as I also have asthma and dust allergies.

      Your post reminds me that I need to try to change out a zipper for someone. I haven’t ever done it on jeans but my daughter needs it done.

    2. Also, there were three seasons of Land Girls. It’s on Amazon. It was okay; I disliked the adultery and thought the storyline could have focused more on the war farming efforts themselves to have been better.

      Wartime Farm, which you can see all episodes of on YouTube, is better. Here’s the first one.

      1. Thanks for the tips on the shows! There’s so little we watch anymore. I’m always keeping my eyes open for something new…or old.

        Here I am in Kansas and we just had a small earthquake…. They don’t belong here!

        1. The New Madrid Fault is further east than you. . . but a small earthquake is not much! I’ve been in a large earthquake before. The small ones are nothing to worry about.

          1. I live in Maryland about 100 miles from D.C. I had never felt an earthquake but do you remember several years ago when D.C. had an earthquake that damaged a couple of memorials? We could feel it here! I was standing next to our propane water heater and thought it had something to do with that. I really thought the house was going to explode! It seems silly but it was such an odd sensation and not one you’re ever prepared for in our area!

      2. Brandy, I watched one episode of Land Girls and decided I didn’t want to see more. There was a lot of adultery and not much “land.” I am really open to suggestions set in WW2, though. Foyle’s War still my fave.

  48. We were recently gifted a sum of money to replenish our freezer with and were happy to take advantage of sales to do so. We were careful to buy only what we’d have normally bought and at hte best price we could find. I was so happy to refill my freezer.
    I’ve been paying attention to pricing here and most of it is about $1 a pound more on meats and produce just a little higher than in the past. While we were shopping to fill our freezer, we priced corned beef ($10.99 a pound which is a $5/pound increase over last summer) and chicken wings were 10.79 a pound which I thought was exorbitant. Wings have been climbing for quite a while due to their popularity but that seemed ridiculous to me. I’ll cut up my own chicken in future as I can buy whole birds for just 98c a pound. I priced orange juice concentrate and juice in a bottle and found the ready made from concentrate was about the same price. No trimming costs by buying concentrate right now!
    I am decorating for Christmas a little at a time, using just what I have and not buying anything much new. I indulged in some dollar store pinecones for my tree.
    I’ll be cutting fresh evergreens from my own yard and woods to decorate the house with and to make a front door wreath. I will be using my own poinsettia and Christmas cactus as part of the Christmas decor.
    Christmas gifts are all bought and paid for. In years past we’ve always taken money from savings to pay for Christmas, even though we kept it quite modest. I’ve managed this year to buy strictly from our regular budget and consider this a coup, since it is also our 2nd year living on a fixed income. I’m doubly pleased because I came in far under our usual modest budget because I purchased items on sale/clearance.

    1. Terri, my sister taught me this little trick: we are diabetic and need to keep orange juice on hand for times when we need to quickly raise our blood sugar levels. Instead of purchasing orange juice that is already made up-and can go old fast- buy frozen concentrated and remove a tablespoon or two and mix with water as needed. I then put the end cap that was removed back on, and wrap it good with foil. This way I always have juice any time it is needed.

  49. I learn from zerowastechef.com 1- blog and especially 2- instagram site and 3- facebook site everyday —

    From today’s instagram post for zero waste chef 12/7/2021
    I ran out of bulk dishwasher tabs but I have lots of washing soda on hand so I filled the dishwasher’s detergent dispenser with some. It worked! I have tried different formulas for homemade dishwasher detergent to avoid the plastic jugs of dishwasher liquid (and dubious ingredients). The last homemade batch I made contained citric acid, baking soda and salt in addition to washing soda. Plain washing soda seemed to work just as well with our dishwasher and water (our water is neither hard nor soft).

    Washing soda is NOT the same thing as baking soda. However, you can transform baking soda into washing soda in the oven (I haven’t tried it myself). Look for washing soda in the detergent aisle of stores or at bulk stores that carry cleaning supplies. I didn’t use a rinse aid in this load but will try that next. Stay tuned!

  50. Our house heating and cooling has been running higher for a long time now. So, when we had to have the blower/ heater replaced this summer we checked the insulation. It had settled over the last 27 yrs and was sitting at an R8, we need R49 for our area. New insulation was blown in today, and it feels a whole lot warmer in here already. It was expensive, but it will save us more in the long run. Also, we’ve changed all the old fluorescent and incandescent bulbs to LED’s inside and outside.

    1. That’s a lot of settling! A worthwhile investment! Your power bills are going to be a lot lower this year!

  51. I was able to get $1.00 off per gallon gas discount at Fred Meyer (Kroger). That save me over $13.00! I had purchased some gift cards there and used a 5x gas points coupon to earn more gas points. My mother also used that coupon for her gift cards. The next time I fill up I will use her loyalty card, and I should get the same discount again. Since I am her driver, she doesn’t need her gas points.

    *I purchased Boxed AuGratin and Scalloped Potatoes for 49 cents each. I purchased 8 boxes to stock up! I didn’t find any other deals or sales at the grocery store that I could use. Most of what I bought was at regular price, very disappointing.

    *My son needed a uniform for band concerts. He was able to use a white shirt and black pants of my husbands. We found black shoes at a good price and on sale for 20% off and were able to use a coupon for $10.00 additional off the shoes. The coupon just said good on apparel, and it didn’t list shoes on it… but I have found that it never hurts to have the checker scan the store coupons and see if they work. I have saved a lot this way in the past!

    *Frugal Fail: had to throw out a lot of food from my refrigerator, my leftovers management skills were not very good last week!

    *Hope everyone has a great week! Excited to read all your frugal adventures!

    1. I got a small dry erase board a few months ago and it has been helping with the food waste so much. I write on it what is leftover and what needs to be used up. Food waste is an ongoing battle that I am determined to win. Good luck.

  52. Every year when we go up to Pennsylvania to see my parents for Thanksgiving, we want to visit NYC (two hours away), but there is never enough time. This year, our school district added two days of vacation for mental health days, so we decided to take advantage of it. My eldest daughter works for Marriott, so we can get deeply discounted rooms. We booked a hotel in Jersey City across the river from NYC for $57 per night, using her discount. (Admittedly, parking a car was $27 per night, but still a great deal overall!) We did lots of free things in the city. One day we visited the Polonsky exhibition at the NYC Public Library which showcased some of their greatest treasures, including a copy of the Declaration of Independence. We walked around Broadway and Times Square and soaked in the atmosphere and holiday decorations. The next day we had a docent-led tour of a wonderful old synagogue and museum on their free admission day (left a nice donation). We also walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and took the free Staten Island Ferry and got some beautiful photos of the NYC skyline. The last day we drove to three area cemeteries so I could get photos of my ancestors’ gravestones for my genealogy hobby. (These cemeteries are huge – over 200,000 people buried, so most are not online.) It was exhausting but so much fun! Happy Holiday Season, everyone!

  53. Yesterday I stopped at a roadside stand and bought a Bird of Paradise and a King protea flower-I had never even heard of these -let alone seen this huge flower. Total spend was $4 for a lovely bouquet for our condo,

  54. After reading the comments on gas cooking stoves it made me curious. I decided to do some research. I’ve always had electric or glass top stoves and not had any issues with them. It does sound like using gas has some nice conveniences though. There are issues to think of concerning using gas over electricity. It does sound like it’s important to be vented to the outside. Here’s a report from NPR (National Public Radio) from October of this year which you might find interesting and informative.

    1. I have read about that. California is looking at banning gas stoves, which makes chefs furious.

      Electricity isn’t always cleaner, though. When coal is burned to make electricity, it doesn’t make sense.

      They have also seen that natural gas emissions are much smaller than some places are saying. I was reading both sides just the other week.

      Either way, I LOVE cooking on natural gas. I don’t like cooking on electric at all. Natural gas gives beautiful control. When you turn the heat off, it’s gone. I love that too.

  55. I have probably asked before. Do you use solar for electricity and water heating in your area? I would have thought that it would be suitable for homes in your area. We have both PV solar for some of our electricity and thermal solar to heat our hot water and as a backup where necessary to our gas heating system. It is VERY stormy here at the moment. Storm Barra.

    1. The only people who use solar for water heating here do it for their pools.

      We looked into solar several times. When we ran the numbers, it would not save us any money at all. So until the cost comes down, it isn’t financially worth it.

  56. I hate glass top cook stoves but have several family and friends that love them. I like gas for every day but do have an old electric one pot burner for simmering as the gas stove seems even on the simmer burner be too hot.

    Our HVAC repair guy said the part the furnace needs is going to be slow coming in BUT since he made sure he dated it the warranty would cover the part and part of his labor. He also told us to get the crawl space (about half the house is on crawl space)encapsuled before getting the windows replaced. It would actually save us more with heating and cooling bills plus the air would be healthier. Hubby right now covers vents in the crawl space to stop winter air from getting in. If that had been an option when we were overhauling the house he would have pushed for it before we moved in.

    We decided to start our new living on Social Security and my IRA on Dec 20th as a Christmas gift to ourselves. Hubby’s IRA payment will go on the mortgage to help get it paid off in the next 4-5 yrs.
    Blessing to all… stay safe, stay well.

  57. Thank you, as always, Brandy for making this blog. Do you hear that often enough? The weather has been lovely and no need for ceiling fans although when it’s warmer outside than in, in the morning, we do turn on the whole house fan for an hour. We’re saving on theatre tickets because we won’t comply with the requirements, so that’s a huge savings for us.
    Christmas will be a couple of friends and we’ll make a main dish of a seitan roast with puff pastry covering which will be a special treat because we’re usually gluten-free. We’re not buying gifts this year but did buy a tree which was more expensive than last year– some places were $125 for a 7 foot tree, but ours was bought at a church and was slightly less. We don’t really buy any new decorations because we enjoy the vintage ones, some of which were sent all the way to Jamaica by my grandmother when I lived on the island as a child, and the memories, even if the ornaments are bedraggled, mean more to me than the look of pretty new ones.

    Hope every one has a good week!

  58. Hello Everyone! Haven’t posted much in the last few months, but have been reading faithfully! These last few months have flown by for sure. Spent my birthday in a local beach town with my parents and family. My parents treated for hotel rooms and restaurants, so the OOP cost was the gas to get there. While there I went to the local goodwill. I bought a skateboard deck for my son for $10.00. It was in near perfect shape. I have seen these same ones for as much as $75 new. The only thing missing were the wheels. My husband’s friend put on the wheels for free. We also stopped by a local used sporting goods store and picked up a helmet and knee pads for less than the cost of new knee pads. Had a small birthday celebration for my at our neighborhood pool before they closed for the season. We grilled and invited a few friends. We used food from our current stash, so the only cost was treats for the kids. We have continued cleaning and purging our house. I can honestly say that there is light at the end of the tunnel! This is such a good feeling. I have sold quite a few items on our neighborhood website and also on Facebook marketplace. I took two more car loads of stuff to donate to the Goodwill, including six bags for our neighbors. (It is upsetting to think that I have held on to so much stuff for so long.) They have been very good to us, so we were glad to be able to help them out. I also cleaned out our pantry. I was able to pull out several pounds of dried goods to give to my mother in law to take to my father in law who lives out of state. All of it was food we had for a quite a while and were not ever going to eat. We went to Southern California for a few days to get away, which was not at all frugal, but we had a really good time. I would not stay at the hotel we choose again. Not that it wasn’t nice, but it really wasn’t our style. We went to the Hollywood Museum which had all sorts of Hollywood items, both new and vintage. We also went and saw a movie at the old Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood which was quite a treat! The next day we went to the Petersen Automotive Museum which I highly recommend. We paid extra for the Vault Tour, which included classic cars such at the Bat Mobile, The Green Hornet Car and the Back to the Future car. They also had an exhibit upstairs of James Bond cars. I’m not really a car person, but I loved it. The next day we went to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which was amazing. Thanksgiving was spent at home eating Thanksgiving items purchased at Trader Joe’s. It was by far the easiest Thanksgiving we have ever had! My co-worker also gave us several pounds of persimmons from her tree. She also gave each of us a beautiful poinsettia. I had purchased several Christmas gifts for co-workers from one of my high school friends who is a Mary Kay consultant. I was able to stop by her house and pick up. We had a nice visit for over an hour. We had decided prior to the pandemic that we should get passports for all of us. Mine and my husband’s had expired and my son has never had one. Wow have things changed since we got them the last time. I could not get us an appointment at any of our local post offices to save my life. To complicate matters, we both had to be there to do it for my son, which I get but the day I could go, I couldn’t go and the day I could go, my husband couldn’t go. I decided that since we were driving to and from Southern California, I researched appointment locations up and down the state. I was able to find an appointment for all three of us on the exact day we needed it on our drive back. We stopped in Los Alamos (one hour north of Santa Barbara) and it was in and out. I had never had such good service for this type of thing anywhere. This weekend we are hosting dinner for my cousin and her daughter, son in law and son. We have a set menu that we have every year, crab and pasta. This is the first year we are doing it at our house. My cousin is insisting on bringing the crab, which is quite the blessing. Wishing everyone a festive week!!!!!

  59. I gratefully was given a large pumpkin. It is about 5kgs/11 pounds and is a Kent pumpkin. We will get a lot of meals out of it.

    We assembled and decorated our Christmas tree, which is about 13 years old.

    I purchased some Hot Wheels Cars on mega sale (they went into the gift cupboard for future gifts for next year) and for myself a long skirt and two tops to go with it. I used a gift card received from doing some market research to pay for it.

    We have a lot of Christmas catch ups with family and friends in the lead up to Christmas. My food contribution has been scrolls. I use 1.5 sheets of puff pastry over which I spread tomato paste, ham and cheese. I then roll them up into a long log, cut them width ways, about 2cm wide, and lay them on a baking tray. Cook them for about 15 minutes and they are done. So easy to prepare and I get heaps of positive feedback and requests on how to make them. I also do basil pesto and parmesan scrolls. Am going to try salami and cheese. All these scrolls take such a small amount of meat and cheese.

    We went to the library to watch a free Christmas musical show. The library has finally opened the toy section back up (it was closed for COVID reasons) and my children borrowed a toy each and we got a family board game.

    All washing was line dried, food scraps buried in the garden, fresh grown basil used in cooking, electricity and gas use kept to a minimum and car usage also kept to a minimum.

    We splurged on a hot restaurant breakfast that was a total of $2 per person! We each got 2 large pieces of bacon, 2 sausages, scrambled eggs, half a roasted tomato and a hash brown. What an indulgence as we do not eat at restaurants or get take-away. I was so full I could not eat much for the remainder of the day. Afterwards I collected some free wrapping paper and two gift tags due to being a member. The wrapping paper was enough to wrap one medium sized present.

    We are currently painting our fences, using fence paint received as an early Christmas gift from a family member. I love practical gifts.

    Meals consisted of taco bowls with beans and rice, avocado on toast, boiled eggs, nectarines, watermelon, apples, bananas, rockmelon (cantaloupe), mango, banana pancakes with lemon curd and cream, pizza, biscuits with icing and decorations, oats (with fruit), fruit smoothies, yoghurt, toast, sweet potato soup and sandwiches. All homemade as per usual.

    I booked five free local activities for my children to do during the seven week Christmas school holidays, including a puppet show. The activities are put on by our local council (county) and are all within a 5 minute drive or a bike ride.

    It is very hot and very humid so we will also attend the local council indoor pool a few times over the holidays. Being an indoor pool means we can go in the middle of the day, whereas we usually avoid swimming/outdoor activities at that time as we get dehydrated quickly and easily sunburnt. The sun is also very harsh and too much at that time of the day.

    Have a good week.

  60. I love cooking with electricity — what I’d really like to get is an induction stovetop range. induction is as quick and as immediate as natural gas cooking.
    Once a pan is removed from the “element”, there is automatically no heat. I might save up and get one but
    I am not keen on the glass top, although since the whole glass top does not get hot it would be a breeze to keep clean.
    Nevertheless, I had a friend who bought a range with a glasstop and she has had to replace it 4 times twice very soon after purchasing it). Although electricity generated from coal is not “clean”, electricity generated by hydro is.
    I am asthmatic and am very sensitive to natural gas, even the small amount involved in a stovetop. Also, it would probably cost a lot to pipe natural gas the entire length of the house to get to the kitchen and I’d have to knock out a few ceilings too. Very expensive proposition. Although our province is a major natural gas producer, the price is going up. Our province probably will generate electricity from natural gas and is definitely switching from coal.

    1. Hydro power is wonderful but sadly not everywhere.

      The houses here are built with natural gas.

      1. Brandy’s comments about coal-fired electrical plants are well taken, but there is more. I have lived for over 70 years in areas of Oregon and Idaho where virtually all of the electricity is hydro. It is generated from dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers, and I agree…it is wonderful. Cheap and clean. However, environmentalists have fought for at least 30 years to remove the dams because of their effect on salmon runs. They have not succeeded–yet–but about 25 years ago, they succeeded in having Lower Granite dam, on the Snake, drawn down as a test to gauge the effect on salmon runs. At the time, we lived in Lewiston, ID, which is at the east end of Lower Granite’s reservoir. Going from a lake to a small river and back in about a month was weird! It affected far more than electricity generation. There are ports all along the river and the drawdown temporarily shut down barge traffic on the Snake, which in turn goes into the Columbia and eventually ends up at the Pacific Ocean. The results were inconclusive. Nothing further has been done, but there is still talk. Needless to say, people that live along the river oppose removing the dams, for many reasons. BTW, the electricity generated by federally-owned dams goes to Rural Electric Co-ops.

        I know this is more than anybody wants to know, but I have to wonder where all the electricity is going to come from when coal, hydro, etc., is eliminated. I would love to generate all of our power from wind and solar, but the current technology doesn’t support this. Wind and solar are currently only producing a small percentage of the electricity we need now…never mind what we will need when we all have electric cars. My own opinion is that we will be seeing a lot more nuclear power plants, and there are certainly a lot of pros and cons there! And that’s the point–no means of making electricity is perfect, and we have to weigh the pros and cons.

        1. And there is fighting over the dams because the tribes there want the land and salmon back, so it goes in a cycle . . .

          1. From what I understand, the Salt River in central Arizona is very very low currently. Makes me sad.

        2. I agree with this 100%. Some people may view one type of power to be clean (electric cars for example) but if you look at the backstory…how they’re manufactured, how the electricity they use is generated, etc…there are always cons to it as well. My husband is in trucking and hauls aggregates into a coal fired power plant. If the energy is forced to change, it also affects real people. He used to work for himself and coal was basically shut down by a previous governmental administration and we lost our business and are still paying down the debt we incurred trying to keep it afloat. I would LOVE to see cleaner energy produced and used…as long as the time is taken and the technology is in place to make it feasible. And we have wind power here, but there are tons of people fighting it because it affects the wildlife tremendously! Maybe if we could all just use and consume less, it would be the best way to be “green”.

      2. Our houses are built with natural gas. It just happens that in my house the gas is at the opposite end from the kitchen, the length of the house. It is unusual. I also realize that dams cause a lot of problems – as maxine points out. In addition, there is the problem of increased mercury where there are dams. I also agree with Maxine about everything is pointing towards nuclear (not saying that either of us want that). After Fukushima, the Japanese decommissioned all of their nuclear plants. It is a lesson that we should all heed. In Alberta, we are not anywhere close to giving up natural gas for heating. We had radioactivity due to Fukushima – not as bad as elsewhere but still elevated.

    2. I’m wondering what caused the glass tops to break. I have had 2 different stoves with glass tops covering quite a few years and I have never had one break (knock on wood). The man who installed my last stove did say that they are very expensive to replace. One of the requirements I have when replacing any appliances is a good warranty.

      1. In my friend’s case, I think the glass is defective. I have stayed in my friend’s home and she is very careful. She doesn’t use heavy pots nor slide them across the glass. Apparently, little scratches arise if pans are slid across the glass rather than just lifted — small scratches can lead to breakage. The first glass shattered spontaneously in the middle of the night soon after she purchased the stove. The first two were covered by warranty but not the last two. It makes me hesitate. Because induction only heats (by magnetic force) the pots, the glasstop doesn’t heat up and I think there’d be less chance of breakage. The downside of induction is you can’t use it if you have a pacemaker.

        1. I canned on my glass top. My husband said if I broke it I could have gas put in so I didn’t try to be careful. It didn’t break, sigh

  61. It sounds like many readers are cleaning out their freezers. My husband & a man he hires at times cleaned out our deep freeze. Freezer burned items were thrown out. The 2 of them even moved the freezer & cleaned under & around it in the garage. I am so happy I can now see what is in there. I have plans for meals using what we have. We can use what we have & not buy unneeded items. Thrifty minds are all on the same page.

  62. 1. My older daughter was given a huge frozen turkey as a Thanksgiving Bonus at her job. We will enjoy the turkey over the Christmas Holidays.
    2. I looked through the box with holiday wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes, etc. and I have plenty! I even had extra gift wrap supplies to donate to a group that is making holiday gift stockings for needy teenagers. They were very appreciative.
    3. I cooked a beef roast from the freezer and made french dip sandwiches. Both my husband and older daughter took leftovers for lunch and I will use the remaining leftovers to make a soup.
    4. We decided to do a potluck for a small family gathering before Christmas. I was assigned to the potatoes. I will make mashed potatoes and roasted red potatoes and I already have ingredients for both of these dishes, no need to buy anything!
    5. My younger daughter needed to bring a gift for a Yankee Swap activity at middle school. I had a cute holiday box that had originally contained socks and she baked choc chip cookies to fill it. We added some candy and some pencils, pens, etc. from our big bin of school supplies. It turned out very cute and I think both girls and boys will like it.

  63. It’s been another frugal week in Houston, TX!
    I was able to make a dessert for a church event last-minute, using ingredients I had on hand.
    We haven’t run the AC or heater in a while. It’s supposed to get to 83 today, but it’s still 79 in the house. I’m probably going to have to run the AC to deal with the humidity and mold. Update: 80 and super-humid, so I switched on the AC.
    I took the kids to a free event at another church, where they had carnival games, snow machines that made fake snow to sled on (huge hit), plus free hot dogs, chips, and s’mores. We enjoyed it, and I got the night off from cooking!
    Tuesday Bahama Buck’s (snowcone place) had free snowcones, so we invited some friends to meet us at the one in front of our neighborhood.
    Third grade son needed a Santa hat, and I was lucky enough to find one that his sister wore two years ago in the same concert. A different daughter will wear it on when she goes caroling at a nursing home on Friday, to hand deliver cards they made.
    I returned some clothes to Goodwill that had holes or stains or the kids didn’t like. I got store credit, which I used to buy a balance bike that I quickly resold on Facebook Marketplace.
    Frugal meals were: chicken tortilla soup, spaghetti, homemade lunchables, and probably a few other things I can’t remember now.
    Have a great week!

  64. I was able to use lots of coupons this week. Amazon sent me an offer to save $40 by installing and purchasing $80 worth of items on their app. I did that then deleted the app. I also used a $10 off $40 coupon at Big Lots. I bought toilet paper, paper towels, cleaners, trash bags, etc. Things I would have bought anyway. I sold 2 items on eBay. We enjoyed a free drive through Living Nativity and a free drive through Christmas Lights Display. We did buy $1 gas station hot chocolates for the 10 of us, but it was a lovely evening. We decorated with all of our normal items. I did purchase a table runner as this year’s new purchase. We don’t find table cloths to be practical but the runner makes it festive and can be easily moved for us to have meals (little children would make a mess of it in a hurry) and to do our schoolwork. We’re eating from what we have on hand with just a few perishables purchased each week. I’m trying to keep it under $50 each week. Our normal grocery budget is $150. The savings will go to pay for our hotel rooms on the little getaway we’re taking after Christmas. Oh, I almost forgot… We had one frugal fail. I had Christmas decorations stored in cardboard in the attic. Well, mice got into them and I had to throw away our stockings. I let the kids choose a new one at Dollar Tree. I’ll be looking for nicer ones after the holidays when they go on clearance.

  65. The last few weeks have been kind of crazy. I was offered 3 new clients. I took 1. She is an 86 year old lady that fell and broke several bones. She is now home from rehab. I am helping her 3 days a week while her kids are at work. She was the best fit. We are getting along great. I still watch a little boy the other 2 days. Everyone has been helping out with making dinner so we haven’t had to get take out. I have been pulling ready made meals from the freezer too.
    My sister turned 50. I brought home food from her party. It was served family style but Hubby, myself and our 2 kids were at a table by ourselves. Had enough leftovers for lunches for 2 days. We made my sister a slide show of her life and played it at the party. She loved it as did everyone else. She has everything she needs so I thought this was a great gift idea. My mom, sisters, kids and some of her friends sent me pictures.
    Hubby and I have helping my friend clean out her dad’s house. He was the man I took care of for several years. They treated Hubby and I to dinner. We brought home shampoo, shaving cream, shirts, pants, unopened socks and t-shirts, a Keurig cup holder, baseball hats, a robe and other items that I can’t think of. We dropped nine large bags of clothes to my church. 2 bags were coats and gloves that are needed this time of year.
    My son and I had our 6 month dental visits. Both of us had no cavities. They recommended my son gets his wisdom teeth pulled so we will be looking into that in the new year. We both got goodie bags with a toothbrush, floss and toothpaste.
    All Christmas decorations are up. We have been using the same ones for years.
    Thanks to my bread machine we had homemade bread and rolls this week.
    Numbers are rising here in NY again. I paid $3.45 a gallon for gas. Eggs went up at Aldi to $1.29 a dozen which means in a week they doubled.

    1. I am surprised at the low cost of eggs for you! They are more than double that here. Sales have been much rarer. $1.29 would be a wonderful sales price if I could find it.

      1. Hi Brandy, I’m a long time reader but have never commented. We live in the desert in the PNW and eggs at Walmart here are around $5.65 for five dozen, I wonder why yours are so high?

        Would you be willing to post a photo of your Christmas tree with the new style of ornaments that you purchased? You have such elegant taste, I’m sure it is beautiful!

  66. I got a nice freebie from a local specialty market-free pico de gallo, spinach dip and hummus-they will even give you $3 back if you return the glass jars( thanks for alerting me Ann to watch for this coupon). I also got 3 dozen extra-large eggs on sale at Walmart for $1.97 each. It was really the large on sale but since they were sold out they subbed the others. I peeked at frozen turkeys while there and they were $5/kg so I will keep my eyes open for a better deal. Picked up 3 little baby outfits at Ross dress for less for $10 for my niece-sure hope she has a girl or I will have to shop again.

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