It’s been mostly slow for me the last couple of weeks as we have dealt with illness all last week and I spent the week of Thanksgiving cleaning the house.

I harvested butternut squash, a pumpkin, roselle hibiscus, lemon verbena, basil, Meyer lemons, a zucchini, an Armenian cucumber (that I had missed earlier), cherry tomatoes, and a few peppers.

I cut a few roses from the garden to enjoy.

On Black Friday, I ordered glasses from Zenni Optical. I went through Rakuten first as they had 12.5% cash back on Black Friday for Zenni optical. Zenni had a sale as well of 30% off glasses. I had five pairs to order for the family so this was a great savings for us.

I used a coupon code and took advantage of free shipping on Cyber Monday to order gifts from one place for three of my children that they chose.

I refrained from making an impulse purchase for myself that I saw advertised on Cyber Monday.

My father wanted to change the menu on Thanksgiving. We did a combined meal and while we ate at my house, all I had to provide was one pie, some butternut squash, my homemade Italian dressing, and the mashed potatoes, so the holiday was less work and less expensive for me. Our main course was fried chicken, which my mom purchased ahead of time from the grocery store. In past years, we’ve had turkey more often throughout the year than fried chicken, so the fried chicken was a treat. Everyone loved it so much that we might make it a tradition. My mom just put the fried chicken in the oven to warm it on Thanksgiving Day.

My husband is needing a car for the new job he is studying to learn. He will continue his current business as well, but we needed a second vehicle for this other job. We have had one vehicle for 17 years. My husband extensively researched what kind of vehicle he would need for the job, what lasted the longest, and what got the best gas mileage by watching many videos on YouTube from people in the same profession as well as videos about different vehicles. After much research, we went to see a few different vehicles in town. We decided to make the purchase now, as the difference in gas mileage savings will pay for the vehicle within a year.

The one we ended up purchasing is a 2011 Toyota that usually lasts over 400,000 miles. It was half the price of others my husband had seen listed for that year and when we went to go see it, it had been nicely kept up (it was almost like new inside). We took it to our mechanic (they will do this for a fee) and found out what work would need to be done on it and how much it would cost.

After doing some more research online for this specific vehicle, my husband decided to purchase new brake pads and motor mounts and will replace them himself, saving us over $1200 in labor expenses.

We needed to get a loan for the purchase. We compared the rates at our bank (almost 8%) to that of a credit union in town that was recommended at the car lot we had gone to in order to look at another vehicle. They offered 4.99% with no prepayment penalty. Our hope is to pay it off within a year. The payments are under $200 a month.

When we did the math, we also figured savings in gas for when we take this new to us vehicle around town for errands instead of our van. The gas savings within a year at the current prices will save us $1000 a year, which more than covers insurance, registration, and licensing.

While I spent time resting this past week, I studied some French online on Instagram. I found a couple more accounts to follow that teach French.

What did you do to save money the last two weeks?

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  1. This is for 3 weeks:

    -I was given 14 wide mouth two quart ball jars, brand new in the original boxes (probably from 20 years ago). I will use these for food storage. This is such an awesome gift from my sister. She found them at a garage sale for $1/ box (6 per box) and they threw the two single jars in for free.
    -I made a pair of potholders for a Bday gift for a friend from scraps of fall fabric. -Bought 6 containers for the freezer ($30) and I rearranged the upright freezer using these and freed up quite a bit of space. These containers fit in the space with little free space around them. I love my upright, I don’t have to stand on my head to get things out like I do with the chest freezer. But if things aren’t in containers things come flying out. And the containers I had in there were things I already had and reused and they didn’t fit tight and had too much wasted space.
    -I did some sewing for a friend, I sewed binding on a baby quilt for her and did the hand stitching of the binding. When we met to return the quilt, she took me out to lunch to Olive Garden and paid for it. I ordered chicken Parmesan and I got two huge pieces of chicken. I took the largest piece home, I made some spaghetti and used my home canned marinara sauce and this made a meal for both my husband and I. No money was spent and 2 meals were enjoyed. Plus I enjoyed a meal out, which happens rarely.
    -I got my grand daughter’s nightgown sewn for Christmas and using the scraps I made a nightgown for her 18 inch doll. I used a pattern that I had that had pajamas on it. I lengthened the top of the pajamas and added a ruffle creating a nightgown.
    -I made a large batch of soup. I gave a quart away to a friend that had surgery and a quart to an older couple from church dealing with health issues. Both were very appreciative receiving the soup.
    -Friends gave us 5# of true wild rice that had been harvested and parched this fall. It is about $40 worth. What a nice gift!!
    -We did the annual cookie bake on Black Friday with the grands. We made GF sugar cookie cut outs, GF mint thumbprints, GF cherry winks, spritz, and popcorn balls. They had a ball frosting and decorating the sugar cookies. Such a fun tradition.
    -I cooked the turkey carcass overnight in the crockpot. The next morning I picked the remaining meat off. I added this to jars along with chopped carrots, celery, and onions. Broth over the top. I canned 3 quarts of turkey soup base and 2 quarts of turkey broth. Pretty good for what most people throw away.
    -I was gifted some tea bags, coconut sugar and flour. I will use the tea in kombucha and sub some of the coconut product for sugar and flour in recipes.
    -Creative uses for leftovers: Leftover fried walleye was turned into fish tacos. Leftover venison tenderloin was cut into strips and made into fajita quesadillas. Meat from the thanksgiving turkey were made into turkey and cheese paninis with cranberry relish spread on the bread and turkey tetrazzini. The rest was ground and frozen. This works great mixed with mayo as sandwich spread or spread on crackers. I usually add in onions, celery, and craisins as well.
    -I used 24 jars of canned food in the 3 weeks-total is 30 jars towards my 30 jar goal. I made it!!

    Have a great week!

    1. “Turkey salad” is one of my favorite ways to use the leftovers. I spin mine around, in the food processor, a little and add celery, onion, and mayo. I hadn’t thought of freezing it after I chop it up. Thank you!

  2. I’m so glad to hear your husband has figured out some alternative work, besides his business. It sounds as though you made the best decision for a vehicle, and I hope you’ll make your goal of paying it off within a year, if not sooner. We’ve been receiving rain, which refilled our tanks. I pulled tomatoes out of the freezer, and canned tomato sauce. The skins and bits were dehydrated. I harvested chard, and enjoyed that in a meal. I noticed gas had fallen to $2.99 while out, so I stopped and filled up. While at the grocery store, I found one marked down raw honey. I go through a fair amount of honey, having it every day in my lemon water, and using it in my salad dressing, so I’m always thankful to find some at a good price. Saturday was drizzly, and I decided it was a good day to drink tea and write Christmas cards. I’m happy you’re feeling well enough to be posting again.

  3. I hope everyone is feeling better now, Brandy, including yourself! That basket of garden produce is wonderful: you must feel very pleased to have SUCH a variety of fruit and vegetables available so soon after your big garden renovation! Kudos to you and your husband for finding such a great deal on the car!

    My frugal weeks:
    – I made my creamy Alfredo sauce, using evaporated milk (, but left out the white wine, as I didn’t have any. I served it with salad, with croutons made from bread crusts.
    – i made vegan chocolate chip cookies, as i was out of eggs
    – I made a batch of hot chocolate mix (
    – I baked carrot apple muffins for school snacks, except that I used flax eggs instead of eggs, half the sugar, and replaced half the oil with veggie puree. I also replaced the carrot with shredded sweet potato because that was what was on sale this week and I had run out of carrots. So basically an entirely different recipe. But still delicious!
    – I froze the remaining veggie puree (sweet potato, cauliflower, and a bit of broccoli blended with water, until it was the consistency of applesauce) in pucks to use in future baking.
    – I bought two boxes of crackers, which were free after combining a sale, coupon, rebate and cashback.
    – redeemed $10 in loyalty points for groceries, and a $20 e-transfer from (cashback).
    – shopped around to get the lowest price for a Christmas gift for my eldest, as well as a car seat, and was able to buy both at really good Black Friday prices.
    -made chocolate walnut fudge (a variation on this for my Christmas cookie tins used chocolate chips and walnuts bought bought on sale months ago.
    – ordered 3 free postcard sized custom magnets from Walmart using a black Friday promo code. These will be stocking staffers for family. I also ordered our yearly photo ornament, when there was a discount.
    – I made Brandy’s black bean burgers, using pantry ingredients including homemade breadcrumbs, and served them on homemade milk powder dinner rolls. So yummy! I also gave away a half dozen of the rolls. Everyone loves homemade bread!
    – made more breadcrumbs using leftover crusts from the crustless freezer sandwiches I prep for my daughter’s school lunches.
    – timed making soup for dinner (sundried tomato and potato gnocchi cream soup) the day before I needed to serve someone lunch. So one batch of soup served my family for dinner, a guest for lunch the next day, and still a litre canned for the cupboard.
    – made a batch of homemade detergent using Brandy’s recipe, also made a batch of sauerkraut (I love using it to make meatless Rueben sandwiches), and a batch of granola.
    – during a weekly grocery shop, I calculated that I saved about $50, above and beyond just buying items on sale, through price matching (over $30 saved), coupons (over $13 saved), and cashback (over $5). Not insignificant savings!
    – I bought a box of produce from the flashfood app for $5, containing peppers, zucchini, and Chinese eggplant, as well as a box of fun shaped pasta 50 percent off. I chopped up peppers for meals for the week, then froze the rest. I grated all the zucchini and froze it, and I turned the largest eggplant into eggplant parmesan (using homemade breadcrumbs) and chopped up all the other eggplant to turn into an eggplant curry.
    – cut open a hand lotion container to get the last of the product out
    – pour some apple cider vinegar into a mayo container and shook it up to use up the last of the mayo and make a simple coleslaw dressing
    – I also made my White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark (, using up leftover candy canes from last year.
    – Plus, I made my yearly fruitcake, and included some homemade orange marmalade instead of citrus fruit. I didn’t have any rum, which the recipe called for, so just used the last of a bottle of almond cream sherry that I was gifted and that I use in baking. (Annnnd I just realized I was probably gifted it a decade ago. Whoopsies. Does alcohol go bad? The fruitcake tasted delicious, at least the mini cake I tried; the large cake I will age and baste with more alcohol, until it’s a bit more like Jamaican black cake.)

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  4. Well done on the car research!! Sounds like a wise investment!
    I made two quilts this week to Use up my fabric scraps! Totally from scraps of fabric at home and batting was cobbled from leftover scraps of batting from other projects! and Then I quilted 2 wall hangings for a client:

    I finished the last of my tomatoes from the garden that I picked green before the frost and let ripen indoors by canning 3 more pints of tomato sauce! Not one tomato from the garden got left behind or was wasted this year! And the leftovers that I made into sauce added up to 34 pints! Not bad when you think that we ate tomatoes fresh throughout the summer and used some to make our 81 pints of salsa!

    On Saturday, I saw on the Meijers website that CAB ground beef – 80% lean was on sale for $1.99/pound with no limits. This was not in their ad circular but it was at all Meijers in our region and a few others. Their “regular” price currently is $5.99/pound so this was a savings of $4/pound. I picked up 18 pounds for my daughter who had to work on Saturday and another 20 pounds for our freezer. My daughter who is out on 13 acres said she wanted some but her second freezer that we helped her find at an estate auction this summer was full from the chicken breast she’s been getting from FlashFood for about $1.15/pound. I asked if she wanted to come over this Wednesday to pressure can some of her chicken and she got all excited! She has jars that one of our friends had given her and she had been so happy to make apple pie filling last week with me supervising. So she thawed and cut up about 40 pounds of chicken breast and she now has more space in her freezer plus have the convenience of 24 quarts of ready to use chicken on her shelf! She was then able to buy more ground beef for her freezer.
    They are realizing the value of having a more well stocked pantry/food storage since they are about 35 minutes away from the closest store. They are also thrilled at being able to stretch their food budget!

    I dehydrated 9 pounds of red onions for one of our DIL. She was given about 25 pounds of them so I’m helping her preserve them so they are shelf stable.

    Last Monday saw us back on the road to visit my brother up in Michigan. The week prior, both of our vehicles- our car and our van- had their caution lights- check engine light and service engine light flash on. Since we are driving about 500+ round trip every 2 weeks in our trips to see him and the weather is changing to wintery, we took them in to our mechanic’s shop. The Buick, 17 years old, needed a new thermostat and was fixed by that. The van, 20 years old, was gone through and it was determined that there was nothing wrong and it was perfectly safe to continue our bi-weekly treks. While we paid for the new thermostat on the Buick, we were not charged anything for them going over the van! Years ago we would do our own car repairs but we are SO grateful that we found a local auto repair shop that not only are competent, but also honest and reasonable in price! So that was some cost upfront but peace of mind knowing that they were both checked before it became something more costly!

    The grape tomatoes, cucumber slices and baby carrots that were part of the veg tray another daughter sent us home with after Thanksgiving are part of our snacks on the road so we can avoid mini-mart or fast food costs.

    The Marriot hotel that we stay in each time we go up was even less than the other times because they are not as occupied on the Monday night after Thanksgiving. Most people have gone back home. So that was a blessing! $94 for the night instead of the $224 that we paid for the Saturday night that we booked just hours before at the beginning of October!

    It was bitterly cold outside, but there is no precipitation coming down and our van was warm inside as we travel! We are grateful!

    With the Hulu Black Friday sale, I noticed that we are currently automatically paying for 4 Hulu accounts ($7.99 a month). These were gift subscriptions for some of our children that were the low price the first year but auto-renew kept it going a second year! Contacted our kids and they already switched over to sale rate and we did for ourselves too! So that trimmed a $32/month leak in our budget down to $2/month! $30 a month savings? Small? But we will happily take it!!! This is the time to examine our bank statements to see if there are any innocuous charges for things we don’t want or need or even remember!

    Week #2 – I bought a 5 pound package of 73% ground beef on Flashfood for a daughter of mine for $5.49 (less than $1.10/pound. She was pleased!

    Meijers had a weekend sale on raspberries- 50 cents per 6 Oz carton! I bought 3 flats (36 cartons)- 24 cartons became 24 jars of jam- and I dehydrated the last flat-

    This week they have blueberries for 99 cents/16 Oz so daughter is buying some to make blueberry pie filling for her family! She will come here to can since she is still new at it! Should go fast in the steam canner!

    Hope everyone is staying healthy and that you are finding creative solutions to challenges ahead!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Oh, I was hoping you had the same raspberry sake down by you! We were shocked when we saw it and were very thankful to have the $$ to purchase 2 cases. I made pancake/ice-cream syrup with the juice that was left in the seed pulp and am about to start up the canner for 15 or so jam jars. Raspberry is our favorite 😍

      1. Melissa V- Thanks! I was surprised to get their email announcing the 3 day sale on the Thursday that it started! Usually, those have been Friday/Saturday only sales. So I immediately went to Meijers, picking up more Flashfood deals I found there before I left. With the price that good, I knew we would like more to add to our pantry!! Glad you got some too!! ❤️

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  5. I’m so glad to hear things are moving thoughtfully forward on the quest for a second job. Kudos to you all — times of transition are stressful on everyone.
    * used a coupon to decrease the price on a photo album from phone photos.
    * met my goal of using at least one jar of home-canned food per day. This helps keep the food bill down. However I see our government is warning us that next year’s food inflation will be similar to this year’s and I wince in advance of what replacement costs will be.
    *I have some hearing loss and decided to get hearing aids finally. I had measles as a child and that loss has become worse over time. I chose a rechargeable option (no batteries to constantly replace) and at Costco, which had units which cost $6000 elsewhere for $2000 (Canadian $). Insurance will cover a portion of that as well. I’m surprisingly nervous about this.
    *My husband has wanted a telescope since borrowing one from our library. We found a used one in exactly what he wanted for a fraction of the cost of new. Apparently many people purchase a telescope and wind up never using it. We had some clear nights here for viewing. I was thrilled to see with my own eyes Saturn with its rings.
    *Instead of buying a door to our garden shed, husband is making one much cheaper.
    *The usual day to day lifestyle frugalities. Baking, home cooking, watching sales carefully, mending, and so on. Trying to be good stewards of what we have.

    Wishing you all peace through the Advent season!

    1. I bet you will love them!

      My new glasses are progressive lenses. I’m nervous too, but my husband said he got used to his pretty quickly.

      My main concern is using them with my camera.

      1. Hi Brandy,
        I wore progressive glasses and it took me about three weeks to get used to them. After picking up the first pair I put them on and started to drive home. Yikes! Apparently it takes your brain some amount of time to process what you are seeing properly. So I started wearing them off and on, and within two weeks, it was mostly on. Just wanted to warn you not to worry if it takes a while. But once your eyes and brain figure it out, they are wonderful!

      2. Brandy, If your new progressive lenses are annoying when you use your camera, what my husband did was get a cheap pair of magnifying glasses (that worked at the distance he needed) and he switches over to them at those times.

        1. I have another thought on this. If you like to read in bed, then buy the cheap dollar store reading glasses. It’s so hard to adjust progressives for reading in bed (or watching videos) if you’re lying down. However, the dollar store reading glasses work great and they are so cheap you can afford to replace if they break or get too wonky.

      3. Progressives: The first time you look down as when stepping off a curb it’s a bit different, but after that they are absolutely wonderful. I think you’ll really like them a lot.

    2. Elle, one of the great thrills of our trip to Australia in 2003 was seeing Saturn and the rings! I saw Jupiter, too, but it didn’t affect me the same way. This was at the “Sounds of Silence” dinner located at Ayers Rock.

      Brandy, I’m sorry you and your family were ill and for so long. That happened to us once or twice, too. I’m glad you’re finally feeling better. Hope everything works out with the new-to-you car (sounds like a good deal) and the potential new job for your husband.

      For about the last 10 days, we have been dealing with an IRS letter demanding over $15,000 in taxes, interest and penalties for failing to report a stock sale in 2020. But we DID report it, exactly as directed on the tax form, and paid the taxes on it. We can find no error on our return. We have an appointment with an accountant tomorrow and hope to get it resolved.

      I froze 3 ready meals over the last two weeks. I cooked double twice and froze the extra. One meal was simply leftover turkey, gravy and stuffing. I also froze all of the turkey we hadn’t eaten in 4 days. My freezer friendly cookbook recommends thawing frozen meals overnight in the fridge before heating. I have started doing this and they really are a LOT better this way!

      I made menus for the next week using groceries on hand. The only reason this is an accomplishment is because I don’t do it very often (and I should).

      I mended my daughter’s pajamas. This inspired me to replace the elastic in my own pajamas…which really weren’t worth the effort, but they’re my faves. (They have Scotty dogs on them). I had the elastic in my stash.

      We watched Downton Abbey–A New Era (the latest DA movie) for free on Prime Video. All DA fans will love it!

      1. Maxine, I saw Jupiter and 4 of its moons too, and it was good. But, like you, when I saw Saturn nestled into its rings up there, so clear and jewel-like, I got a lump in my throat. “Awesome” is the correct word for it!

    3. Elle W your post reminded me of a time when my husband and I set our alarm for 4am to see Jupiters moons. We set up the telescope in the driveway and it was amazing! After viewing for about 20 minutes we went back to bed. It was in the winter and we were freezing! lol but it was worth it. Yes we’re sky nerds! 😆

  6. I hope you are all recovering! The fried chicken for Thanksgiving sounds delicious. We broke tradition this year and had ham instead of turkey.

    I air dried most of my laundry this past week.

    I am living off the freezer this week, so bought very, very little at the grocery store.

    I bought some things for a friend who doesn’t have an Amazon account and took them to her, and she paid me back, throwing an extra $5 in the envelope as a “service charge” payment, ha.

    I needed a spray booth of sorts to spray clear finish on some painted wooden tiles. I’ve seen little spray booths for sale, but I used cardboard delivery boxes and a garbage bag and made my own.

    I cooked a free-to-me good sized pork butt roast in the pressure cooker, saving on time and heating up the house. We are in a warm spell, so I don’t want to warm the house right now.

    I trimmed the fat off of the roast first, and saved it with other fat I already had in the freezer. I’ll thaw it and chop it, then render lard from it. I usually use my little slow cooker, so I don’t have to watch it on the stove.

    The dew was very heavy Saturday morning, so I took an old hand towel out to the clothesline and wiped it down. With the line soaking in condensation much of the night, the dirt and any mold just wiped off. No cleaner needed, and it makes my line useful for a longer time, plus it won’t leave black marks on my clothes.

    I am furnishing my craft room/office, using furniture I already have. I think the only thing I might need new, other than the paint which I had to do since the walls were damaged, is curtains, and I’ll make them.

    1. When it’s too warm to cook inside, mom taught me to go outside/in the garage. Our washer/dry is in the garage, so use an electric skillet on top of the washer. I also have a counter size oven out there (my kitchen is too small for it). Great for warm days I don’t want to heat up the house, or anything smelly.

  7. Congratulations on your husband starting a new career path. And I loved reading your thoughts on how to chose your second car.
    Most of what I do to save money is the same week to week. I eat all my meals at home. I hang dry my laundry. I keep out of the stores including the thrift storeas much as possible. When I do shop, I go with a list and a purpose. I do not go shopping for entertainment. I combine trips so that I’m mostly home and consoldiate my errand running. I grocery shop once a week and have been mostly buying the store loss leaders. My big purchases are dairy and some meal prep items I need for that week. I’ve even put my dog on a needed diet by more precisely measuring her dog food. I have an over the air antenna and one streaming service for my TV instead of cable or satelite. Finally, I carefully waded through my options for Medicare next year to find what will work best for me and to keep my costs as low as possible.

    I hope everyone had a wonderful week.

  8. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Thank you for being so candid with us and explaining your financial decisions and how you came to them. Lots of research and prudence will hopefully make your vehicle purchase good value. I wish your husband good luck with his studying.
    We have picked cabbage, carrots and parsnips from the garden.
    Inexpensive meals included chicken liver and veg stir-fry, homemade fishcakes with yellow sticker reduced price salmon and homemade soup. I am trying to use up bits and bobs from the freezer.
    Some friends are beef farmers and they offered us a ‘ beef box’ for delivery before Christmas.
    We know their beef is excellent quality and flavour and the price compared favourably with beef from quality butchers. We considered this purchase and decided to treat ourselves, we don’t eat out often and will get beef for a number of meals at the cost of a meal out in a restaurant.
    I am pleased we have stuck to our gift budget for Christmas. I told my husband I think I could reduce the budget next year a bit by thinking smarter, one way would be to order more items to be shipped direct. This would save me money and time over buying gifts, wrapping, sending through the post etc.
    I needed a thank you gift for someone and in my gift stash found a scented candle which I wrapped in a new teatowel from a charity shop instead of wrapping paper. I had bought the candle in the January sales.
    The price of heating oil has come down( it’s still expensive) so I ordered some prior to the cut off date for guaranteed before Christmas delivery.
    My husband put up some brackets he found in his workshop to store some gardening equipment off the floor. No extra cost. He wanted to buy a large wooden planter for the garden but I persuaded him not to at the moment, we are struggling to maintain the garden and keep it neat and I said I thought we should properly maintain what we have befote buying anything new. He agreed after some thought.
    In the same vein I have been staying at home and cleaning and tidying some hot spot areas in the house and I’m really gratified with the results. No cost except elbow grease.
    My hairdessers salon has been bought out and the prices have risen. I am researching other salons and have decided to cut my own fringe( bangs?) and stretch out the months between professional cuts. I will probably have a dry cut to reduce the price.
    All the usual happening here, drying laundry on indoor racks, using leftovers up, reading for entertainment, driving less and being mindful of ways to reduce electricity consumption.
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. To save money I go to the local beauty school and ask for a senior to do my hair, then the teacher comes by to inspect a finish off any tiny mistakes. Been doing this for years.

      1. Maria,
        your comment reminded me that this kind of approach can be used in different areas of our lives, too. I don’t know if this is possible in the US but I have had gynecological pre-operation check-up in a hospital that was carried out by medical interns (not sure about the correct term) of course under the watchful eye of their teacher and the gynecologist of the hospital. When I was booking this appointment I was offered this kind of solution, which was more beneficial to me in that situation.

  9. I’m glad to hear you are feeling better, Brandy, but so sorry you were under the weather. I’m glad you could rest some, but know full well, a busy mama doesn’t get much rest, even when sick. Your Thanksgiving sounds lovely!* For the first time in forever, I felt like we didn’t overdo for Thanksgiving. I simplified the menu, and shared the cooking with my daughter. We had a nice early dinner then spent the afternoon visiting and playing games. It was perfect. * Finished The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle from the library…thanks for recommending it here. I LOVED IT!!!! I actually put it on my Amazon wish list because I’d love to own it someday. * I finished 25 Santa gnome ornaments with yarn I had for family and friends. I just had to buy little wooden beads for the nose, but used a 40% off coupon for those. They turned out very cute. His beard is a pom pom…which I made on my pom pom maker I purchased with a gift card I received for my birthday last year. We are giving all of our kids (adults) gift cards for Christmas so I crocheted gift card holders with yarn I had. Hoping it makes the gift a little more personal and fun. *Finished my husbands socks. Also finished the Coat of Many Colors style scarf from leftover sock yarn. My husband claimed it and received three compliments the first day he wore it! * When I picked up my online grocery order from Walmart last week, they added a gift bag with freebies. One was a full size (8 oz) bottle of Adobe seasoning from Goya! Also included was some candy, some fruit snacks, a sample of Downy, a water flavor packet and a glade plug in. A nice surprise. *Hope everyone has a really nice week!

  10. Gas is $2.83 gallon in University town, $2.76 at a Walmart in northern part of state, $2.67 in Alabaster, per my friend, and $3.29 in southern part of state. I made large Turkey with long carrots, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pea salad, green bean casserole, chocolate no bake cookies, spinach dip, rolls, pumpkin pudding, cranberry sauce, and something else I am forgetting. Two grown kids were very sick so spent off time taking care of them. Ate some leftovers but tried to divide it between the kids and my ex. I didn’t need the carbs. I did make baked chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet with sliced turnips, potatoes, and collard leaves on top, shrimp and rice, coleslaw, egg and tomato sandwiches for breakfast etc. , and walked in neighborhood when not cooking.

  11. My combined landline and internet bill is normally $129 for rural high speed service. This month, the bill came in at $215. A two-year contract which saved me $10 a month had ended, and the new rate was $35 more a month. The contract had ended early the month before, so the higher rate was prorated over that period. There aren’t a lot of options where I live, but I am going to give myself a couple of weeks to research them before I call and find out what a new contract would cost.

    For groceries, I have focused on buying meat, since my fridge-freezer was nearly out when my last pension month started. I have bought mostly fish, skinless, boneless chicken, and ground beef. A friend sold me two lb of very lean ground beef from a bulk purchase she and her son had made from a local farmer. I think she has much more meat than she will use, and could use the cash more than a large supply of ground beef. I am happy to use some to make chili and hamburgers. My goal is to have a month of meat in my fridge-freezer by the time the next pension month starts, so that I have a supply in case of bad weather or supply chain issues this winter.

    My local grocery store has had 5 lb bags of small but good quality russet potatoes for $1.99. They are perfect for roasting or for dicing to make home fries, and keep really well. They don’t seem to be running out of them, so I plan to just keep buying a bag each time I go to the store. 5 lb of red potatoes, which is what I normally would buy, are $5.99 a bag, so this can add up to a lot of savings.

    I twisted my knee a few days ago, and then got a stomach bug or food poisoning, so I have spent a few days resting. We have also had some snow, and a few days of extremely cold weather for the time of year, so I am not making any progress. Fortunately, I had some easy-to-make, light meals and food in the house. I had heard that my cousin and her husband had both got covid and were sick for two weeks, and were too sick to take care of each other. Living alone, I was unnerved enough to start stocking up what I would need to take care of myself if I wasn’t feeling well. Though I hadn’t got everything on my list yet, what I had got was just in time.

    I don’t have a lot more in mind for Christmas treats. I have baking supplies and chocolates. I’ll get some alcohol closer to the holidays. So far I don’t have a Christmas menu in mind, but I’ll be keeping it very simple. We’ll see what there is in the store when the time comes. My grocery budget is in good shape, so I should be okay.

    I am getting things delivered this week that I ordered last week, so the fun of shopping, but not out of pocket this month!

    1. Elizabeth M. Sorry to hear that you’ve been ill. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. About your landline,
      I’m not sure what company you use for your phone and internet but Telus has some very good deals for low-income seniors. Rates are based on how much you receive on the GIS supplement from the feds. Not sure of course if you’re low income but it’s a good starting point. Telus actually negotiates deals for those who ask. Tell them you just cannot afford the increased rate.

  12. Well done on the research for the car. Everyone of those areas that you researched saved you tons. It’s so hard to get some folks to understand that careful spending is the real answer to a secure life.

  13. Your Thanksgiving sounds lovely, and congratulations on the new car, and your husband’s new job. Best of luck to him as he branches out.
    We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home, then spent the rest of the holiday weekend taking care of some chores around the house. *Last year I purchased some knit fabric online for a project. When it arrived I decided the knit was too thin and put it away. This week I used a free online pattern to make a long cardigan (duster) from that thin knit. It is perfect for keeping me warmer in the house without being too heavy, and only took a couple of hours to sew.*I darned a pair of my husband’s socks and repaired a hole in his winter jacket.* I turned a five-gallon bucket of apples that were past their prime into 9 ½ pints of applesauce.* My husband split another cord of firewood.*I made sandwich bread, yogurt, and granola. * I mixed up a double batch of laundry detergent. * I cut a bunch of branches in my yard and used ropes and wire I already had to make garland to drape across my front porch.*I canned 5 pints of pinto beans from dried.* I also canned 5 pints of chicken broth from chicken bones I saved in my freezer.* I finished knitting another Christmas gift – three more to go.

  14. Glad you’re feeling better Brandy! So many bugs are going around right now 😕 I try and remember to be grateful each and everyday I feel well.

    My Frugals past 2 weeks:
    *my husband won a free food giveaway at work worth $50 🎉
    *packed my lunches for work
    *used the good old slow cooker for dinners
    *gratefully accepted 2 ham bones and leftovers from a family get together
    *paid an extra $100 toward mortgage principal
    *local cookie shop had day old cookies they offered to facebook followers for free (2 dozen per person)! My husband went and picked up since wasn’t too far out of his way.
    *used up some slightly past date eggnog to batch cook a bunch of pancakes- delicious! And quite a few left in freezer for future meals.
    📍Grocery Store: bought Christmas gift cards during a super “points” sale and earned $12 rewards
    📍Buy Nothing Group: 3 pairs of work pants for my son, 8 lip balms, magnified compact mirror, 8(!) soup mixes, 2 beautiful popcorn tins

    Wishing you all health and happiness ❤️

  15. I hope every one is feeling better. We had a respiratory infection that rotated through all of us. Baby Henry is in daycare now and the likely culprit. I’m enjoying the quiet and freedom I have while sugar cookie is away for the holidays. I’ve pulled items that need to be shipped to the child. I’m using packing envelopes and supplies that were gathered in my journeys. I’m slowing touching every item in my home and reevaluating them. I’m minimalising my home. I have so much and don’t want my children burdened with it when I pass. I’ve donated tons of stuff and have more to go. I’ve gone through our enormous pantry and rotated items. I’ve pulled tons of excess out that we could never eat. Its all been donated. I had 200 jars of peanut butter. None recalled or expired. I’ve eliminated almost all gluten items. I brought home 2 ten pound bags of frozen chicken quarters. I tossed them in that big blue canning pot with a ton of vegtables. I picked the chicken off and froze it. I cooked the bones for two days and made broth. I’m thinking for Christmas that I will make a humongous chicken and dressing or two in one big pan. The broth will be used in the dressing and gravy. I made 15 lbs of ground chuck into a huge meatloaf and 6 lbs of cooked scrambled meat. I’m making a meat pie with mashed potatoes and a bag of mixed vegtables. Chili up next. I’m getting more creative with our dumpster finds. I really need to see about getting another freezer. I brought home 2 pairs of Nike sweatpants and 5 name brand sports shirts courtesy of a sports store. My son was delighted. Honestly there is so little we need to buy or even desire at this point. Dumpster diving is a blessing. We’ve decided to skip gifts completely for Christmas. Not sugar cookie though , she will always have Santa clause. We simply are happy and content. We will eat and possibly stream a new release movie. I don’t anticipate buying anything but some Christmas candy. I’m working on next years budget. This year has ended up tight but with the unexpected funeral expenses ,its to be expected. But thankfully although tight , I’m still not having to pull money. Brandy and so many friends are the greatest motivation at keeping me on tract. I will say I’m taking insurance out on all my kids. The riders on them on my own policy has now run out. I’m off to bake banana nut bread. I brought home 3 large filled bags of half black bananas. Perfect for baking. All my ingredients were rescued from namely Aldis. I have pecans too. The only thing I bought was my good vanilla last time we went to Mexico. Its a beautiful rainy day which is perfect for diving tonight. I need to fill my vegetables up. I’m a happy fruit cake.

    1. Mexican vanilla is our favorite, too! We have anyone we know that is traveling down there grab some for us. It’s so strong, and flavorful, it lasts a long time.

      I’m glad you are finding so many things of value in the dumpsters. My husband occasionally watches a U-Tube video of people getting things from them, but as far as I know, it’s not a thing in our area. I have never tried to look through a dumpster, and since I’m not very agile I feel I might get in and never be able to get out so I will likely never try, but I have noticed that they are usually behind locked gates in our area, so it would not even be possible to go through them if we wanted to. It’s amazing that you can find good food items and that the stores are willing to allow people to take them, rather than just throw them away. I used to belong to Gleaners, an organization that rescued that kind of food and the participants worked at the warehouse or drop site and got to take food home. They don’t even have that in this county where I live now, so it’s a regional thing around here. I hope you continue to find what you need!

  16. Glad to hear you are feeling better and that thanksgiving week is behind you! And you have a clean house ;). Also I am happy to hear your husband is on the path to a new career. I liked the way you did Thanksgiving this year, I think we need a new tradition. We like Turkey but it seemed like an ordeal this year to put all the usual items together. And there are only two of us, so there is a lot of follow up meals and freezer dinners related to that one event. Fried Chicken would be a lovely alternative. On the frugal front, I have a pinched nerve and my husband had a bad tooth (that was removed today) so we were not in the mood to spend money ;). I am concerned at the noise my refrigerator is making, but it is still holding the temperature so it gives us a bit of time to you tube Refrigerator noises.

      1. It seems a lot of people have made changes in the way they normally do Thanksgiving due to cost, availability or just a need for something simpler and less stressful. It’s often hard to break with tradition but it often turns out just fine and maybe even more enjoyable.

    1. Hilogene, same here but mine appears to be the freezer on top. Looking at online info I think it’s the evaporator fan gone bad, but until pay day for us (next week) I’m just praying it hangs on for a bit. My grandson says “Dinosaur!” each time it comes on. And while it may be working fine, I am finding the constant noise is grating on my nerves very badly. I need all the calming help I can get!

  17. I only worked two days in the last two weeks. Did not work at all Thanksgiving week, and we had a big snowstorm last Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, so did not work on Wednesday. I did take breakfast and lunch for the two days I worked.
    We were hosting Thanksgiving for our elder son and his wife and our younger son and his fiancée. Spent one day cleaning the house and getting out Thanksgiving related decor.
    Made homemade rolls. Made a Marchocwa pie. (Short for Marion’s chocolate walnut pie). My mother (Marion) made a chocolate walnut pie for Thanksgiving instead of a pecan pie, as we raised walnuts and as she said, “You can never go wrong adding chocolate.”
    Had Thanksgiving at our house. It was wonderful. The cabbage and peppers in the salad, onion in the stuffing, corn, and cauliflower were all either fresh or frozen from the garden.
    On Friday after Thanksgiving, I went to two stores. Fred Meyer always has socks for 1/2 price on Black Friday, so I went there. Also went to Winco to look at the fresh turkeys. They were 29¢ a pound, so I bought two for the freezer.
    Made turkey broth and then turkey soup using leftover carrots and celery from the Thanksgiving relish tray, and onions from the garden and corn previously frozen.
    Fred Meyer, on November 29th, had a special extra 10% off for those over 55. I got 73% lean ground beef – 9 pounds for what ended up being $1.57 a pound. Four 16 ounce containers of sour cream for $1.16 each, and 10 pounds of BSCB at $1.97 per pound.
    I noted that on my receipt I had a $20 off coupon for anything, apparel, home or electronics that ended on Nov. 29th. Ended up using it to buy a stock of extra underwear. It won’t go bad, and eventually I will need it.
    Made one dozen rolls and one dozen cinnamon rolls. Made turkey enchilada casserole.
    Made 2 loaves of bread. Used Brandy’s rosemary olive oil bread recipe, but also added some thyme. It was delicious. Gave one loaf to a neighbor who helped the DH clear our driveway of the snow from the latest storm. He wouldn’t take money as he said he was just helping a neighbor, but no one will turn down fresh bread.
    Made a batch of brownie mix and cornbread mix for part of my sister’s Christmas present. I will also give her a jar of homemade tomato basil sauce and a jar of homemade pickled beets. I will add some homemade candy and some homegrown butternut and acorn squash to the basket. One year, about 10 years ago, we each gave the other a basket filed with goodies. Since then, we just trade the same two baskets back and forth each with our own goodies to the other.
    Made a batch of homemade cinnamon applesauce in the crockpot.
    Made homemade taco seasoning mix.
    I sorted a box of letters that I brought home that were between my parents. I now have a box of letters from 1945, one from 1946 and one from 1947. Next, I will put them in chronological order, and then will read them, and maybe write my parents’ story for the rest of the family. There must be about 400 letters. They met in late 1944 and got married in summer of 1947, so this is their entire courtship years. I have my work cut out for me.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

    1. Nancy, I so agree, underwear will not ‘go bad’! Nor will socks or pjs/gowns, etc. I buy bras and underwear in bulk and watch for sales. By in bulk, I mean that I’ll have 7 0r 8 bras on hand and a dozen or two of underthings. Socks also don’t go bad. I try not to get too far ahead but those things are a few that I feel it’s worthwhile to have a bit extra of. Other items that don’t go bad: bar soap, toothbrushes, razors…There’s more of course, but it’s worth rememering when we have a coupon such as you got on your receipt that we don’t have to use it for just food.

    2. Nancy,
      I loved reading about your Mother’s chocolate Walnut pie! Then, going through 400 letters between your parents, and writing about it, just blows my mind! What a loving tribute!

  18. I did many of the usual things food wise. I menu planned, stretched meat, cooked at home and watched food waste. I purchased most groceries with WIC and stayed within a tight budget otherwise. Our youngest has moved out of formula, so our WIC food package changed and gave us a much larger amount of budget for fruits and vegetables as well as more food items. I have been buying far less groceries than normal trying to use up things we have an abundance of. This has been a nice way to hold money back for Christmas festivities especially with a tighter year this year. I found some just right deals around Thanksgiving to round out what I needed and we had a very lovely meal with plenty of leftovers. I was able to save a couple bags of turkey for the freezer for future meals. I purposely planned my store trips to buy milk on the days they mark it down. I found Christmas themed shirts at our local thrift store for the littler boys to wear to our community Christmas Stroll. I also found a lovely Christmas Piano CD for 75 cents. I ordered several pairs of boy’s jeans from Target during cyber Monday sales for around $5.00 a pair. I found a pair of clearance jeans at Walmart for my teenage son in a style and color he liked for $6.00. I returned a couple pairs of older jeans through the Target app that had developed holes in the knees before the year warranty was up. I found Christmas pajamas for $6.00. We do the 4 Want/Need/Wear/Read presents and the pajamas are the “Something to Wear” each year. Otherwise, I didn’t make impulse purchases on the sales despite seeing some good deals. I ordered an artificial Christmas Tree before Thanksgiving that got lost in transit. I wound up just getting my money back and using something creatively that we already owned saving the money all together. We checked out another backpack with activity books to keep from our local library and also colored Christmas coloring pages to return in exchange for a free Christmas book to keep. They were wonderful book selections and such a blessing. My daughter found a few items on her list at a church rummage sale and saved quite a bit over what she had planned to spend online. We made hot chocolate at home instead of our usual Friday “Coffee Day”, where the kids get a special drink at our local coffee counter (which actually is located in and provides funding for our amazing library!). Our teens had a free dinner at Youth Group and we were provided a grilled cheese lunch after church during Fellowship Hour. I canceled a service and expected to pay a final bill but realized we had been paying ahead so we didn’t owe anything! We received a capital credit rebate check from our local telephone co-op. I cut my husband and 4 of my boys’ hair. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  19. I boiled some chicken carcasses and ended up with 10 cups of chicken stock, and quart bag of shredded chicken

    The teen made banana muffins

    My husband found chicken wings, 25 pounds for $20, and purchased 2 boxes

    It was free movie channels preview over Thanksgiving, so I recorded stuff to watch

    My mother in law bought us Top Gun Maverick and Bullet Train on dvd

    I made my own buttermilk to use in a cake

    Redeemed points for Amazon gift cards. .$50 from Receiptpal, $15 from Receipthog, and $25 Fetch. I use those towards Christmas gifts.

    Subscribed to HBOmax for 1.99 for 3 months

    My mil sent home an indoor antenna that didn’t work at her house

    I mended a pair of my sons pants
    I purchased a tag for free junior frosties in 2023 for $2

    Canceled Directv

    Earned $11 in Amazon shopper panel rewards

    I used .60 off gas reward. 20 gallons for $2.39 versus $2.99

    My husband blew out the kitchen sink lines because there wasn’t a lot of water pressure. All better now.

    I found a handsoap refill pushed way back under the sink.

    My husband overdid it on grilling for Thanksgiving, but we had a lot of leftovers.

    I was off work (and the teen out of school) the week of Thanksgiving so stayed home a lot.

    I used my $50 gift card to Barnes and noble I’ve been carrying around for awhile on Cards Against Humanity and an expansion pack.

  20. Great choice on the car. My car has 250,000 miles and my partner’s has 258,000. They are in good shape and haven’t needed much repair for the duration of our ownership. We bought both of them used. There is no better car than a Toyota in my opinion!

  21. Glad your health is on the mend and there is a plan moving forward with the new job/car. My frugal was figuring out I could knock down the lighted wreaths and garlands from the very tall garage shelf using the extension tree pole trimmer. It’s the first time I’ve used them since my husband died, so it’s nice to have them again. Replaced a few house light strings and bows for wreaths at the Black Friday 50% off sale. Created wreath hooks I cut/bent out of wire hangers and got them up on all my shutters. Researched and found a better price for the cat’s meds at Costco (cut price by 2/3). Painted my nails in holiday colors. Starting to plan my holiday baking. I normally ship one big box right at Christmas, but thinking of splitting it up and sending one box earlier. I have to look to see if two small boxes might ship for less if one isn’t on peak shipping dates. Also, I got a good deal on some fancy balsamic vinegar at grocery outlet, so several gifts will be home baked sourdough with that.

  22. Brandy, I’m glad everyone is on the mend and the car sounds like a great deal! And it’s great news to hear that your husband is training for a new job to do while he still does the real estate.

    I will be minimizing grocery expenditures this month but having said that, last week I bought a beef brisket at Safeway. The flyer said the package was marked $10 off. It cost $26.00 and is kept safe in my friend’s freezer. I also bought two fryer chickens for $2.99 and am cooking one on this cold blustery night. The other has gone into my freezer above the fridge. Perhaps I’ll bake it at Christmas. I bought 4 boxes of cereal — original shreddies. I like snacking on them.
    This week, I’ll be stocking up on canned Dole’s pineapple. $2 per can has been a good price but now it’s on sale for $1.49 per can. (No Frills) I have some in my pantry which I’ll use while I replace them with this new batch.

    A lovely thing happened to me. A year ago, a lady said in an email that she could not afford our book because both of them had lost their jobs due to covid. Her daughter who has asthma is a keen bird watcher and loves our park. I said we would donate a copy when the book was printed. I then thought about it and one of the things cluttering up my hall (which is soon to be cleared) is a bird spotting scope. Someone had won it, I bought it, and thought about raffling it as a fundraiser. Instead I gave it to this mother for her birding daughter. The mother was so pleased. I had started shovelling a pathway up the driveway for her and she finished the shovelling. And she did not only the driveway but my city sidewalk and my neighbour’s. It was good because the next day the temperature plummeted and the day after that (when the temperature had gone up a bit) we had people coming to pick up their books. She offered me $20 for the scope but I said no, it was a gift to her blossoming birder. It was hard for me to say no as I actually was broke but the next day I received some money so it all worked out. She had tears in her eyes. She gave me a tiny gift. It was a bird ornament for the Christmas tree. I don’t have a Christmas tree (due to allergies) but I’ll find a home for it. What she didn’t know was that when I was a child I had exactly the same ornament and it brought tears to my eyes to be given this now.

    In some ways, it’s been very stressful. We borrowed a carport from my neighbour and friend for our book pickup a week ago. We had a carefully planned system where the books would be laid singly on the table. We would be in the carport and it didn’t matter if it snowed. We told our friend we didn’t need help just the loan of the carport. So it became a comedy of errors when my friend’s husband reorganized (or disorganized, depending on one’s perspective) everything so we were on the patio not under the carport. so much for planning. So we sat in the snow and tarped the books. It was brutal. I don’t think our friend has forgiven us yet but she was the author of her own misfortune as she jumped in, took over and totally undid our system. Well, she and her husband were well-meaning. Anyway, it’s taken a week but I think I’m warming up. We repeated our system this past weekend and sans husbands it worked like a charm.

    Our volunteers who have delivered books for us have been stupendous. Awesome. Almost all of the books have been delivered. The complimentary copies have been mostly mailed. A few will still be picked up. Our volunteer who was slogging books from the printer’s to his house (near us) has had to go to the States for a family emergency. Fortunately, he just managed to deliver books to 4 local stores before he left. A friend if mine delivered 8 books in Edmonton when we found a way to get them up to Edmonton. She had quite the adventure with one batch of them.

    I greatly enjoyed the Bocelli Family Christmas program live streamed yesterday. Fortunately they put it on You Tube today so we can re-watch it. They have out-Hallmarked Hallmark as far as holiday glitz and it was great to hear and see Andrea, Matteo and Virginia as they performed some of the Christmas carols from their new cd. Free on You Tube. A lovely free gift to oneself!

    1. How nice to get the bird ornament! Perhaps you can hang it from a mirror or a window (I use a pushpin with ribbon to hang my wreaths above the windows).

      I am also allergic to Christmas trees. Ours is a faux one.

      1. I have a small artificial basil plant in a terra cotta pot. I may hang it on there or on a garden trug. Your suggestion s are great and it may be hung from the mirror. Thanks!

    2. Ellie’s Friend, that is the sweetest story about the bird ornament. Thank you so much for sharing with us! It really touched my heart and made me smile. It’s been a rough afternoon and I needed that uplifting story.

    3. I loved the story so much of you helping the lady and her daughter and how it all ended. Thank you for sharing.

    4. You must be so relieved to have the books delivered after all the hard work! Congratulations. What a sweet story about the bird – serendipity!

      You have certainly had more than your fair share of extra cold weather and snow out west already! We are mostly hovering around the freezing mark and the one snow storm about 10 days ago has mostly disappeared. I will break out the parka tomorrow though as I am off to a local Christmas Market and it will be a lot of walking about outdoors! Stay warm and be careful on the snow and ice!

  23. I’m hopeful for some advice and prayer. I read almost weekly but have never posted.
    A few weeks ago, after nearly 30 years of marriage, my husband announced he wanted to separate. He “has feelings” for a woman he works with, young enough to be his daughter. I was completely blindsided. He gave no indication he was unhappy at all. In fact, we had a vacation planned shortly. We ate dinner together nightly. We had gone on some recent dates out.
    He refuses counseling. I do not know who he has become. I never would have thought this would happen to me, but here we are.
    We will begin meditation next week. He makes much more money than I do. I just started FT work this past summer and thank goodness have my own insurance. The house is paid off and I want to negotiate having the house without giving him half the value. He has stuck me with the care and upkeep of the house, yard, gardens, car, pets, and our college age child. I’m resentful, confused, and deeply saddened.
    I would welcome any advice. Especially those who have been through this or have been successful at mediation.

    1. Mary, I am sorry to hear this.

      I hope those who have been through divorce can offer you some useful advice.

      I was watching some things on relationships this past week while ill, and a few times this issue was brought up. Some things that stood out to me, and I hope it brings you strength: It was never about you–which is to say, this decision was made without you, irrelevant of your actions and choices, so do not blame yourself for anything you did or did not do.

      I wish you strength as you navigate this difficult time.

    2. Dear Mary, as Brandy said it is not about you at all. I am sorry I can’t give any specific advice, but if you need a listening ear of a stranger please feel free to email me at I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    3. Mary – my heart aches because I have been where you are. I’m wretchedly sorry and would dearly love to shake your husband until his midlife-crisising teeth rattle.

      This is going to sound harsh, but it is the best advice I was given and I hope it will help you as it helped me: Steel yourself (you won’t/don’t want to, I know, I truly do) and come out swinging. Let him know that if that’s what he wants, you will not stand in his way, and then let him know exactly what it is going to cost him to get it (and make sure it’s a LOT). Do not, I beg you, sell yourself short to seem like “the nice one” (they won’t care that you’re being “nice”, and they won’t be nice themselves). Demand EVERYTHING. Demand what feels like outrageous amounts of support and property. It will go against your instincts – do it anyway. Don’t think about being “fair” and “reasonable” – because I promise you they won’t. Stand firm and don’t allow them to take advantage of your bewilderment and pain (they will try). It will hurt to the core of your being. But you MUST stand strong for yourself even when you want to curl up and cry.

      When I stopped begging and crying and gave them my blessing – as long as he was ready to pay up (what I actually said was, “The best revenge I’ll ever have on her is letting her have you – so go for it, Romeo”), my husband was shocked speechless. He was stunned because I was always so”nice”. It forced him to look 1) into his wallet, & 2) at the real, concrete consequences of his choices. He asked to reconcile not long after. Even then, I made him ask in writing through attorneys.

      It will be painful and difficult, and I can’t guarantee you will have the same outcome. But your husband WILL learn your worth, and especially he will learn the hard way that you value yourself. You will never regret that, however this goes.

      As Brandy eloquently says, this is no way about you personally. They will try to make you believe that it is. He/They will do all they can to deflect responsibility – do not fall for it. Do not fall for his attempts to deflect attention from the true failure: him.

      1. Mary — everything Jane said times 10… I’d only add — get the best family law/divorce lawyer that is in your area. I can’t say forcefully enough how important it was for me to get my own lawyer and one who came highly recommended by lawyer friend. I intentionally did not go through formal mediation. We worked out our settlement between the lawyers and avoided going to court as well.

        When I got divorced, I was able to keep everything that I had brought into the relationship from family and inheritances. It meant a lot of work on my end but meant those things were not part of the community property settlement. YMMV depending on where you live.

      2. Mary, I am so very sorry. Jane’s advice is exactly what I was going to advise. One other bit–I know you want to stay in the house, but make sure you will be able to manage all of the home expenses comfortably. The last thing you want to do is struggle with your budget.

      3. Jane, this is extremely helpful. I feel like you’re my coach. I do plan to ask for more than may be deemed “fair” – I finished the budget that the mediator sent me to fill out yesterday, and it’s shocking how my meager income does not even come close to covering it. I figure if this is his idea, and he wants it over with ASAP, and he has stuck me with all the expenses of the house, yard, and dog, (the dog has issues and is expensive, lol) I can argue my case and get what I want.
        I appreciate everyone’s comments here. I knew I’d get help and support and everyone makes really good suggestions/points. Thank you all so much!

        1. Mary, I’m so glad anything I said might help. I read your words with such a feeling of deja vu – my husband, too, had gotten involved with a co-worker (I mean, could they BE more predictable?).

          I would second so much of what others are saying here, too. Smile, and go after his retirement as well as any future income. I’m sure he’ll howl about how you’re being “unfair”, but it will force him to pull his head out of the escapist fantasy he’s created in his mind, and look at some cold hard reality.

          And yes: please take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Find a therapist and be sure they’re solidly in your corner whichever direction you decide is best. A personal cheerleader you can really talk to is priceless.

        2. Just thought of another thing. My lawyer had begged me to get my ex to list all of his assets. There was the belief that he had been planning this divorce for awhile and had hidden away some of his earnings. I didn’t follow my lawyer’s advice and have regretted that decision on my part. Also – make sure to get your share of his pension or other retirment benefits and social security.

        3. Do not give that information to the mediator!!!!!! Get your own lawyer-someone that has YOUR best interest at heart. Take everything you want and increase by 30%. Don’t be fair. Don’t play nice.

    4. Mary,
      I am so sorry to hear about your situation! I have had a similar thing happen to me! First, you need to take care of yourself. You will go through all the stages of grief. It is normal. This has to do with your husband’s issues-not yours. He let you down. Regain your strength. I recommend a daily exercise routine. Something like a daily walk. It will help you clear your head. Take it slow, don’t make any decisions too quickly.

    5. Mary: How very sad! How hard for you!
      No, it wasn’t about you. It was about him, and about him expecting you to read his mind and be something else, even though he never told you what it was. You are a person of worth and value and deserving of love.
      Make sure you get the best legal representation you can when the time comes. I am not sure quite what mediation means, but do follow your mediator’s advice, (like if you are told not to speak or not speak about something), and ask for clarification if you do not understand. Write everything down, because it will blur together.
      I am sure many generous prayers will come to you from the readers here.

    6. Mary, You can never make someone love you but remember this — some “so-called Loves” are very transient.
      It is not about you. The more you oppose his going, the more he will be inspired to go — like a truculent rebellious teenager. So I agree with the other comments; say you are sad to see him go, even that you love him but stand up for yourself, take good care of yourself. Get a good lawyer or mediator. Perhaps a good medical exam of him might be a good starting point since his behaviour is so uncharacteristic. Another thing to consider is not only the house, money, etc. but sharing in his pensions. Ask for half of his pensions since it is a marriage of long duration and the contributions you have made to house, college age kid. Ask to be reimbursed for half of the money you spent for your college kid’s expenses. You have had a terrible shock but you will get through it and you are a strong person.

      1. Pretty sure that in the U.S., he is legally required to give her half his pension or retirement accounts, unless she signs something to the contrary, which her lawyer will certainly tell her not to do. Might be able to ask for more?
        She will have spousal rights to his social security as well when they come of age. That won’t affect the benefits he gets, and he can’t stop that.

        1. Heidi Louise,
          Did you mean

          that will affect the benefits he’ll get (and not that won’t affect the benefits…?)

          1. No– As I understand it, and note that I am not an expert, the rules for U.S. social security are set by law if the couple has been married ten years or more, divorced for two, and she is not remarried. His benefit is based on his wages and the age he starts benefits. Her spousal benefits if she applies for them would be half of what he receives, (at his full retirement age, roughly, following particular formulas and ages). His benefits are not affected by whether she is receiving spousal benefits or not; she could even collect without him ever knowing.
            Of course, read this with “he” and “she” reversed, as sometimes the wife is the higher wage earner. Or she might have higher benefits by taking her own benefits, not spousal benefits.
            This comment is for government social security. I believe–and this is why one needs a financial expert– that for employer pensions or retirement plans, the decisions about pay-out amounts, timing, and recipients might be more flexible, though still within government guidelines that ensure one spouse cannot take all the money without the other’s permission.

            1. Also it doesn’t matter if he remarries, she is still entitled to her spousal benefits. There is no limit to the number of ex-spouses who can collect on a person. My father was married five times and four of his ex-spouses were eligible to collect, all at half of his full retirement benefit. The ineligible ex-spouse was only married to him for five years.

        2. Also – don’t forget about any life insurance plans he/they may have – make sure that you stay as the beneficiary!

          1. Margie from Toronto
            Great minds think alike! I came back on the site to mention insurance policies
            just to see you’ d mentioned it. Mary should become the irrevocable beneficiary of any life insurance policies on his life and if the policy has a cash out policy entitled to a share of that.
            Provision should be made to ensure the policies remain in force (i.e. he’s paid the premiums).
            A lawyer could best address this. Also Mary should make sure she has disability insurance for herself while she is insurable.

      2. Mary,
        Since you’ve been blindsided, counselling from a minister, or other counselling will help you to deal with the fact you’ve been betrayed by someone you trusted. In my opinion, that is one of the hardest things in this situation.

        Also, make an inventory of his bank accounts, your joint bank accounts, how much the balances are. His employment slips, tax slips. While you have access to that information. If there are joint accounts, I’d get immediate legal advice on how to make sure he doesn’t empty it out. You will get through this. If you gave up 30 years of employment outside the house to stay at home with kids etc., then you may be able to negotiate an unequal split in your favour. I do think you need a lawyer rather than a mediator….as some others have also said.

    7. Oh Mary, I am so sorry to hear of your situation.

      I rarely tell this story to anyone not in my “real life” circle – but we went through something similar several years ago. My husband of nearly 20 years suddenly announced one weekend that he wanted to separate and was “ready to move on.” I was devastated. We had been living life normally to that point – dates, shopping, etc. He also did not want counseling or anything, and was like a completely different person. Our house was only a couple of months from being paid off. It turned out he did have feelings for someone else, but there was also a lot more to our story – he was going through a severe midlife crisis due to work issues and some depression. It was very difficult, and I felt all of those things you did. We sold our home and after living apart for a year (and lots of counseling, which he eventually agreed to), we ended up working things out. We are now stronger than we have been and I can honestly say our relationship is very strong. I can’t say that is how your situation will go and I don’t want to provide false hope, but I CAN say that it does get better and easier with time. I would be happy to talk with you if you want to email me.

      1. I forgot to add my email address: If you want to vent, talk, ask questions – I am here. And as everyone else here has said, it is NOT about you. I know that is difficult, and you will grieve for the future that has been changed for you, but you need to stand up for yourself, too, and ask for everything that you are entitled to. Don’t sell yourself short financially. Take care of yourself.

      2. That’s an amazing story, Pam. So you never started a mediation/divorce process? Your story sounds so similar to mine, and I’m impressed that your husband was ‘man’ enough and let go of his ego enough to realize his mistake and work through things. You are a strong person.

        1. Hi Mary. Yes, we did start the actual divorce process. I told him I would not initiate or pay for it since I wasn’t the one who wanted it, so he handled it. We signed papers and got as far as having a scheduled court date (this took several months in our state). Our situation was largely amicable – there wasn’t any fighting over assets or anything – we were both in agreement about everything and it went very fairly. We did not use any mediation. In our state there’s still a court date set to finalize the divorce. This took several months to get. By the time we got to that date, we were already talking and there was the possibility of reconciliation, so we got a postponement. By the time the second date rolled around (several more months later), we had decided to work things out and so we let it go without doing anything and the divorce petition was dropped, so we are still married and living together.

          It was one of the worst times of my life, I’m not going to lie. It was incredibly hard. You will grieve for the future that was taken from you. There were days I couldn’t even get myself out of bed to go to work. And honestly, I did not have much of a family or friend support system at the time, which also made it tough. Financially, I was fine (especially after the sale of our house), so that was at least one thing I didn’t have to worry about. Over time, it got better, but it’s very much day by day. I don’t want to go into too much detail here on Brandy’s blog, but it was several months of struggling before we could talk like civilized adults and start to work on things.

          You will be okay, too – even if things do not work out with your husband. You will learn a lot about yourself, and you will find that strength you need. Again, I don’t want to clog up Brandy’s blog with my story, but I’m very happy to talk with you more if you want to email me. Our situations do sound similar, and I know what you’re feeling.

          1. Dear Pam B. and Mary – I am going through something very similar and so far we have put off divorce for a year now. Yet, I don’t feel married at the moment either. He loves another but hasn’t moved out yet (he now sleeps in the office but we are able to do family things with my son, including eating meals together.) I have not filed for divorce even though that was my very first instinct. I have decided to fight for my marriage and for my young son to keep his family intact. I have found strength I didn’t know I had but it is and has been so very, very hard. Please try to watch videos or read books by Michelle Weiner-Davis (aka The Divorce Buster). I would also recommend the Gottman Institute website and any of John Gottman’s science of relationships books. Esther Perel’s book: The State of Affairs has also given me lots of different perspectives on affairs. I have created separate financial accounts so that my income since I found out is not “co-mingled” with marital assets which provides me some protection in my state. I have read lots of legal divorce books from the public library and books just about negotiation — don’t be afraid to ask for something knowing he won’t agree to it – it gives you the opportunity to negotiate other things. In my state, we can do a marriage settlement agreement which allows for lots of leeway – basically anything that can be agreed upon – it doesn’t have to be equitable but what works in your situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for alimony at a higher amount – you can negotiate it to be less in exchange for things like the house free-and-clear or a different percentage split of retirement assets. Or even negotiate a larger lump sum payment in lieu of monthly payments (or a different duration of payments) if that works better in your situation. I would also recommend following Kate Bowler (author of Everything Happens For A Reason And Other Lies I’ve Loved) on Instagram – her blessing posts have arrived on some really well-timed days.

    8. Mary,

      I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. I agree with everyone’s recommendation to find a spirited divorce attorney who will fight for your best interests. Separate your bank accounts. Don’t necessarily move anything out of your existing accounts without consulting your attorney but start your own independent account to have your current income diverted towards.
      Through my experience, two things that people said to me still stand out in my mind 20 years later. First “when someone shows you their true colors, believe them”. Don’t try to justify his behavior, just accept it and start planning your own future. Second, “don’t let him take your energy”. As difficult as it is, you have the choice to decide which of his actions you allow to upset you.
      Lastly, find counseling whether it be through church, non profit, work resources, etc. It will do wonders to just be able to talk to someone. Your situation is incredibly difficult but it will get better as time passes, it is not the last chapter of your book and you get to write your own happy ending. I wish you strength and determination to work through this.

    9. I cannot say this strongly enough: get an attorney with a reputation for being a killer. Mediation is when both of you want to split and it is working out the details. You have been blind-sided and need tomake sure you are taken care of in your older age. If you tend to be nice and forgiving and accomodating by nature, an attorney will do the hardball work for you. I am so very sorry this has happened to you and wish you strength. Lean on your friends. Take care of yourself.

    10. Mary, I am so sorry. This is so hard. There will be a grieving process, and like many types of grief, it will probably come in waves. At the worst of a wave of grief, hold on to the fact that it WILL get easier again. And as many have said, it’s not about you, although it may be hard to truly believe that at times. Definitely get a divorce attorney who will go after every penny you deserve after contributing to the family, home, childcare, and by extension, his career, for so many years. Have him/her be ruthless on your behalf. But in the short-term, get an accurate picture of your finances! Print out or save copies of the status of any accounts, savings, retirement plans, his work benefits, his work retirement status, mortgage status, etc. that you can get your hands on. Get copies of any important documents asap. I wish you as amicable a resolution to this as possible; but get all the documentation you can NOW, to ensure a fair dissolution of assets should it come to that. And, try to take care of yourself. Try to eat and drink nourishing foods, try to get enough sleep, reach out to friends and family for support. You are worthy, and you are loved. Thinking of you. We are all cheering you on and believing in you!

    11. Oh Mary! Been there, done that… I don’t have any knowledge of divorce law where you are, but please get yourself the best and most experienced legal representative you can afford. My lawyer was a divorce expert, my ex’s was the family lawyer who was more accustomed to property matters and the like. If I can borrow terms from the US, it was the likes the Marines versus the Army Reserve and I eventually got a fair settlement. And yes, a lawyer is impervious to emotional appeals – which we are not. Best of luck dear. It does get better – I am happier now than ever.

    12. Mary-I went through the same thing when my kids were two and four. My husband at the time laid the bombshell on me at Christmas one year. I remember being in such a state of shock that all I could was work, care for the kids, and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” over and over to keep myself from sliding into a black hole. I agree with the other advice given here (particularly with regard to legal representation and therapy). You will get through this. My life now is so much better than I ever could have imagined back then. You will have some hard days, but know that life is not static and that you will find joy in life again.

    13. Mary, I am so sorry you are going through this. I am late to comment, but everything said is good advice, legally and otherwise. There are emotional stages you will go through (just like there are stages of accepting death, and they are very similar). If you can, find a counselor who shares your values and talk to her. The biggest advice I can give you is to work through your emotions; the worst thing one can do is to be angry and bitter for years because, whatever happens, it is important to not let this define the rest of your life. Someone once told me that the best revenge was to be happy. I don’t think revenge is good for the soul, but I do believe that they win if you end up angry and bitter the rest of your life. That would also not be helpful for college age child. And be kind to yourself, this is all a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.

    14. Mary, I am coming in late with this advice but I hope you see it. I am an attorney and encourage you to seek legal counsel immediately. I would highly recommend you reach out to any attorneys you know (perhaps through friends/family) and ask if they have a recommendation for a family law attorney. You specifically want a family law attorney, not just a general practitioner. Interview several family law attorneys and find one you are comfortable with. I would advise doing this as soon as possible as it not only sets you up for better advice and greater success if this does result in divorce, but also will disqualify any of these (hopefully great) attorneys from representing your husband. While no one wants to think about the dissolution of their marriage, but it’s extremely important to protect yourself. It sounds from your post that you may have been a homemaker or just working part-time for a good portion of your marriage, which means you will likely be entitled to spousal support.

      I’m sorry if any of this advice sounds cold, but I have seen so many women get absolutely run through the wringer and would hate to see it happen to one more woman. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through and wish you the best.

  24. I have started teaching piano lessons to my great nephews. They are so excited to learn, so it is a lot of fun! My mom is going to teach me how to sew. I hope to sew curtains for my house, starting with my kitchen. But, I think we are going to start with napkins to see how I do before I use my material to make curtains. We took the grandkids out to eat. It is fun. My son didn’t eat. I think he was worried about us spending money. So, next time we are going to take them to the grocery store, let them pick some things with a budget and cook at my son’s home. We have done this before. It is fun, cheaper and teaches them how to shop with a budget. Then they get to help cook something they like. It will teach them skills that are better than just taking them out. And, it will help our budget. I bought chicken legs for .69 cents a lb. I’m making jerk chicken from a recipe I found online. It smells so good! It has allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper on it! Yum! If it tastes as good as it smells it should be very good! I have never made jerk chicken before. I will make a salad and cook some rice with it. We got a 10 lb. bag of guacamole for $4.98 cents. We ate avocado toast for breakfast one morning. It was delicious mixed with pico de Gallo we got on sale as well. Then we had Mexican buildup for dinner. It is kind of like a taco salad, but everyone puts what they want on it. We froze the rest of the guacamole in small serving size freezer bags. I love it when I can get such a good deal! I got a cream colored wool sweater at a thrift shop. It was made in Ireland. I was so excited to get it! I always wanted one but never wanted to pay full price. Now I have one! My son went thrift shopping with me and I bought him a piece of art that he loves! He is so happy with it that it made me smile. He keeps telling everyone about the neat elephant and baby elephant statue I got him! I also bought a print in a frame for $3. Totally frivolous, but so much fun! I don’t usually do that. But it was so much fun to spend a little fun money! Then look up the history of the art piece with my husband. It has provided tons of entertainment! I have been playing the piano this week and reading on the internet. My husband just fixed the door on his truck. It was stuck. I know that saved money! Well, I think chicken is ready!

    1. Tammy — your cream coloured sweater from Ireland sounds like an Aran Isles sweater. Either way it is a great bargain! Ann

  25. Glad you got some rest/quiet time. Hoping everyone is feeling better.

    We switched electric providers to save 3 cents per KHr.
    Took cooked chicken leftovers and turned it into basic chicken salad to stretch it and used for lunches.
    When refreshing our cats water, I use the older water plants.
    On our local buy nothing group I received a library card holder style cd cabinet that I’m using to store my needle craft supplies.
    I said no to attending a large dinner where the bill was to be split evenly amongst guests plus a gift was expected. I offered to take the guest of honor out for coffee and light dessert instead. They were quite happy with that.
    Hope everyone has a calm week.

  26. We received an outdoor table that is beautiful. The sad part is that it came from a friend who is moving.
    I attended a free clothes swap. I brought clothes to give, and I could take whatever I wanted. I came home with a GAP cardigan, a Woolrich rain jacket, a dress, a child’s sweater and shirt, a toddler toy and book, organic lip balm (sealed), and a straw bag. It was a fun event., and completely free! On the way I picked up 2 items from my Buy Nothing group, both of which I needed and would have had to buy.
    I received 4 enormous sourdough baguettes. They were left over at the food bank and the agency that leftover food goes to will not take unwrapped bread. These baguettes were made fresh at Boudin bakery (famous San Francisco bakery) and are not plastic wrapped. The lady who runs the food bank knows to call me when there’s any of this type of bread left over. I sliced and froze 2 loaves, made French toast casserole with part of one loaf, and the rest my husband is eating for breakfast toast each morning.
    I also used the last of the tomatoes that I had brought in in October before our first frost. I made sauce with the red and yellow ones, and then roasted all the little green ones, and made sauce with those. It felt good to use them all up.
    I got paid for 2 mystery shops that I did last month.
    Sadly our HVAC ductwork under the house was destroyed and the replacement bill is $8,000! It was a hard end to a hard day.

    1. I make a sort of pull apart pizza with them. I cut a cross hatch on top, leaving the bottom attached. I stuff bacon bits and shredded mozzarella into the cuts and bake it just until the cheese melts. Served with a cup of warm marinara, it’s delicious! Just tear off pieces and dunk them! Very easy, too.

  27. So sorry to hear that you were ill but glad that you were still able to have a lovely Thanksgiving! You really know how to do your research before making major purchases – that is something that I need to get better at! I hope that the new car serves your husband well in the new endeavour.

    I have been extra busy at the office so I’ve tried to remember to bring a snack or a sandwich with me as extra hours seem to be needed almost every time I’m there! I picked up my new Keurig Coffee maker (50% off) so next on my list is a good travel mug so that I can take coffee with me on days I go to the office – coffee prices are up again so it will be a useful purchase.
    My apt. has been given an extra clean and I am now putting out a few (just a few) Christmas decorations. I have bought a few gifts and I also bought some gift bags and another box of cards at 40% off last week so that should see me through this year. I have a friend who hates to cook so I’m thinking of gifting her (and another friend) a once a month meal at my place – brunch, dinner or tea time! I figure this will be a good way of making the effort to get together each month and will save the cost of eating out. We all enjoy eating out but it is very hard to justify the increased costs – especially since I enjoy cooking and have a well stocked pantry!

    I have only purchased the minimum over the past few weeks – milk, rolls, salad fixings and then some sale items. I was able to purchase butter, shredded cheese and my favourite teabags at reduced prices (at least compared to what they have been). I also bought a turkey breast and turkey thighs so, along with the treats and a few other items that I’ve bought over the past couple of months, all I need for Christmas will be the last minute fresh foods like veg. I’m not going overboard on the treats this year – none of us need to still be eating all these extras into March! I have used Loyalty point offers and $20 worth of points to help with the purchases.

    I’ve had friends come here for brunch (made quiche) and for dinner (spaghetti with HM sauce) = I ate out once after an afternoon at the Botanical Gardens Christmas Market – free entry and some very reasonably priced gift purchases. Decided not to eat out another night – settled for coffee after a “Pay what you can” Christmas concert at my church – it was an amazing show – they had about 400 show up so I hope they will be pleased with the donations. The friends who came with me decided that we should walk up to City Hall afterwards to see the lights and it was beautiful – the square is all lit up, the skating rink is open and there were lots of vendors selling all kinds of treats so everyone was in a good mood. I also attended a lecture at the church and paid $10 which included refreshments afterwards. The professor spoke on “Agatha Christie, Archaeology and Alzheimers” = she was a wonderful speaker – very funny – and there was a long Q&A session afterwards. I am going to another Christmas Market later this week when it will be free entry. I’m mainly going for the atmosphere and to see the lights. I plan to take advantage of many other low cost or free activities in the New Year.

    I hope that everyone is doing well and that you all stay healthy.

    1. All research credit goes to my husband! He is very thorough in his research to make sure he is getting the best thing and the best deal–and if he can save money by doing part of the work himself, he will.

    2. If we were friends I would love a meal a month as a gift. A terrific idea especially since you like cooking. Plus a reason. To get together with friends. It’s weird to me to pay for things at church. I’ve often carried food to church potlucks and given to love offerings but never actually paid to attend a church event. I live in tiny town with only 600 people so maybe that’s the difference.

      1. I should have explained more clearly – we are a very large city church with many Outreach programs and events. The lecture is part of a series we sponsor each year with guest speakers from many walks of life. We pay them an honorarium and it is a type of fund raiser to keep the program going (and we do serve a nice spread afterwards which is catered and sometimes includes wine). We also run an amazing music program so the concert was a fundraiser for that. The people who attend these events are probably 2/3 not church members. Due to Covid and the current financial situation we have decided to make them “pay what you can” rather than setting a fixed price – people have still been very generous. Church events such as Sunday Coffee Hour or Congregational meetings always include refreshments and there is no charge for any of these meetings which are mainly for members of the congregation. We also run a series of Friday Recitals for about 6 months of the year which are all free and over 100 people attend these each week. We also fundraise for our Out of the Cold meal program and our Refugee support program so some of the more social events keep people interested and coming back to donate and to volunteer.

  28. I’m so glad you and yours are feeling better, Brandy.

    We decorated the outside on Black Friday, using the wreaths I got off of a Facebook sale – 6 large wreaths with giant handmade bows for $20! We used some decorations from previous years and some garbage finds. Not to sound conceited, but we always receive compliments on our porch, so I try to decorate it nicely every season. It is one of my favorite places on Earth, to sit and visit and watch the world go by.

    We decorated the inside on Saturday after Thanksgiving, again using items we already had. We did add a beautiful vintage Nativity scene that my husband rescued from the garbage. It was missing Baby Jesus, but we ordered a replacement off of eBay. The Nativity sells for hundreds of dollars on eBay, but someone just threw it away! We hung our homemade, cross stitched stockings – possibly my favorite decorations!

    I spent Thanksgiving with my mom and brothers, while my husband and children spent it with the in-laws. It was the first time I had been away from them on a major holiday, and I did not like it! But life demands change and concessions. All my family asked me to contribute was a dessert, so I made dirt pie/cake (chocolate pudding topping with crushed Oreos and served with cool whip).

    I cashed in Speedway points for another $25 Amazon gift card to use for Christmas. My husband received a $25 e-gift card to Best Buy for an air fryer that was recalled.

    And most surprisingly, we received notice from Aflac that we would be receiving payment on claims that had been wrongly denied or not paid completely. The notice did not tell us how much we would receive so we figured it would be $4 or some small amount – today we received 3 checks totaling almost $120!

    1. Alice, I had to laugh about ordering a baby Jesus off ebay. LOL. Sounds like a nice “curb pick” and I would have done the same thing!

  29. Hi everyone, rocky last few weeks here, with hit and run, bad flu and unexpected ER visit and surgery for my child this Friday. Husband is still not getting calls for work, and trying to get signed up at college for classes has led from one roadblock to the next. My soul is a bit tired!
    With the flu, we did not host Thanksgiving after all. We smoked the turkey and shared some with our neighbor whose wife is recovering from brain surgery.
    Freezer is filled with turkey broth which we will use a lot of it for prev surgery meals.
    We also made turkey spring rolls with the leftovers which the kids enjoyed.
    We are doing an easier Christmas. Simplifying gifts. Will make some stocking stuffers from what’s left of my soap making supplies.
    Working on payment plans with the doctors from my surgery given the layoff etc.
    I had bought a sip and save plan at the circle k to get a daily soda if I get out instead of paying so much for cans.
    Going to the employee Christmas meal tomorrow and will do pharmacy errands when I’m at the hospital.
    I am sure there’s more but I’m a bit overwhelmed and it’s getting late. Have a good evening.

  30. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the car choice, I drove a Toyota Camry till almost 200k then gave to a mechanic who was willing to take care of her. I know have a 2009 Buick enclave with 140K and a mini cooper 2002 100k mileage and lastly 2007 Honda element 144k
    Toyota and Honda known to go forever, not expensive to repair and in my opinion they are work horses
    My husband and I agree that the Honda element was the best investment and car we have purchased
    Best wishes for your new to you vehicle and your family’s new adventures. I have always bought cars 2nd hand except the Honda because they were priced very well and 0% financing at the time- made sense to use time to pay it off

  31. Brandy, I love seeing the veggies at this time of year. My garden is over for the year, save a little kale and maybe a cabbage.

    I did get 2 turkeys for a decent price this year, but usually get 4-5. The sales were just not there around here. One was served at Thanksgiving. We did a little something different, as well–shrimp skewers. This was made possible by some relatives who would rather give some money toward the project than cook a lot of different foods. For once, we didn’t have too much left over, and it’s eaten or frozen by now.

    This past week was so, so busy because I was involved in a really big Christmas production at our church. It lasted almost 2 hours each time, and there were over 100 participants of all ages involved. It was very time consuming, but I was so happy to be able to participate after several years of wanting to do so. I was able to cook quite a few meals ahead, and warm things up before scrambling down to practice each evening. I was in the choir, and we’ve been practicing for weeks, but his week, all the parts and groups came together for many hours of rehearsals, and then the performances were all weekend. So, Rob held down the fort at home and I was gone every day but one. It’s the most I’ve been away from home, except vacations, since before Covid, and I’ll admit, I’m so, so tired! But, glad I could do it.

    To stay frugal, Rob got a Costco chicken at the beginning of the week and we ate that. I boiled the bones into broth and he froze that for later. We used home-canned fruit and a jar of the soup I canned. We spit a pound of hamburger into 2 meals. I’ve been doing that more and more lately, and if I make something like chili Mac, that pound goes for several meals. We decided to forgo an Azure Standard order this month, but instead to work on using up odds and ends. If we don’t have something, we are purposing to just choose another option or substitution. It forces me to use things up that are not as much our favorites, but still good. I don’t want things to go bad. Rob got the Costco chicken because our neighbors got Covid and needed some shopping done. Otherwise, we don’t plan to shop much at all this week, and didn’t need much from there.

    There are a lot of sick people around right now. I don’t know if it’s because after 2 years of basically staying home, we are all passing it around to each other, or what, but it’s nasty! I’m glad you family is recovering and that your husband has a plan for a new job. It’s alway good to feel like you are moving forward!

    1. I often try to comment on your blog Becky, but despite being signed in on wordpress I cannot get it to allow me to comment (on others who use wordporess as well, not just yours). Those boys are so darn cute and I was shocked how much they had changed in just a couple of weeks. The oldest had a ‘boy’ not baby look to him in the last blog post I read this weekend.

  32. After over a decade of not decorating for Christmas I had the itch to do so. I had gotten rid of a too big for my space tree and decorations I no longer cared for.
    I found a smaller pre lit tree on my local circle of giving Facebook page which cost me nothing.
    I bought oranges, apples and grapefruit which I sliced and dehydrated in my oven. I strung those and cranberries on florist wire I had adding cinnamon sticks for a nice garland. I also strung popcorn on heavy duty thread I had on hand.
    For less than $10 and a bit of time I have a lovely decorated tree.

  33. Brandy, the vegetables from your garden look so lovely, especially as I sit here watching icy rain come down! I sold an item on Mercari and listed 2 more. A catalog type advertisement from a local department store arrived full of perfume samples, the type you rub on your wrist. I saved them & try a new one every day. All of the Thanksgiving leftovers were eaten or frozen. I went through my stash and have enough wrapping paper & greeting cards for this year. When my children were home for Thanksgiving I let them choose any Christmas decorations that they wanted for themselves as we decorated. It helped to pare down my items as well as identify items they want me to save for them in the future. My Christmas shopping is mostly complete. I have purchased from a local home decor consignment shop a piece of furniture for my son’s apartment at 75% off of the “new” price. On Mercari I found a vintage piece for my daughter that she collects. We are also purchasing her a new mattress which we will ship directly. My nephew, niece & 2 great nieces are all receiving a book and a gift card to the local indoor “jump” park. I ordered gifts for 2 others from Etsy. Shopping online has saved me time and money this year.

  34. Hi Brandy – what beautiful colors on the pomegranate and the scarf/fabric! Hopefully you feel better after being ill.
    I’ve been ill for almost a month, had a couple of days where I felt better, and then got a new cold/flu. I’ve been okay for the last week or so. Because I’ve been ill for so long, I’ve been terribly behind preparing the garden for winter. When it’s cold outside, I know from experience, that I shouldn’t stay out for too long if I’m not completely well – I get all kinds of extra infections. So I made a plan for getting the garden fixed, where I only had to go out for about 10-30 minutes a day. It worked so well, I might do this with other things that needs to get done! You don’t feel like you’re doing anything, and suddenly the job is done!
    I made an advent calendar for my son – he gets a small piece of chocolate/candy every day in December until Christmas, and a little present the 4 Sundays in advent. Everything is individually wrapped and tied to rings in a fabric calendar my stepmom has made for him. I always save Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons from presents we get, and this is where I get to use all the smallest pieces, as each present is so small. It looks pretty with all the different shades and colors of wrapping. The candy was bought in a discount supermarket. The 4 small presents were a secondhand book on magic tricks (a big hit!), small stamp letters and a stamp pad, a pretty pop-up Christmas card my mother bought in Germany and a second hand Harry Potter audio book (CD) I found very cheaply a while ago. We always give some kind of entertainment in the last present, and save it for the day before Christmas Eve, where the grown ups are busy and my son is exited! Usually some kind of DVD film, but this year it will be the Harry Potter audio book.
    I made a couple of sourdough breads.
    I used a big pumpkin from the garden to make a gigantic batch of pumpkin soup. I’m the only one in the house who eats pumpkin, so I froze most of it in one person sized containers. That way I have dinner for when I’m home alone, and I know how nice it will be, not having to cook these days.
    I made vegetable stock from scraps I had saved in the freezer.
    I’ve started thinking about Christmas presents. My MIL, FIL and my parents will each get a copy of the school photo of my son. It’s expensive to buy, but we think it is OK as we can use it for several presents. My MIL have asked for cloth napkins, so I’ve made her some from an old sheet, that was worn in the middle, but where the sides were still fine. I always make my MIL and my mother homemade Vaseline from olive oil and bees wax, and then we make edible gifts with produce from the garden, like quince jam or walnut schnapps.
    We have decorated for Christmas using all our old ornaments and decorations. My son and I buy a couple of ornaments every year in a local second hand shop, that has a very large selection, but other than that, we just use what we have. We have some very old pieces – I have inherited some ornaments from when my grandparents had just married during WW2! They are very small, as everything was scarce and rationed – it always makes me happy that most of my decorations have memories attached to them.
    Have a nice week everyone!

  35. I mended a few of my four-year-old’s pants at the knee where they had ripped. I am not a natural sewer by any means but they are mended and that is all that matters. They don’t seem to make young children’s pants as sturdy as they used to and I find that they rip quite easily. I was glad I was able to fix them and add longevity to their wear.

  36. Your garden produce is beautiful!
    So sorry to hear you have been sick.
    Over the weekend I made kefir for the first time. It was so easy and I will be using it just like yogurt. I also made a whole spatchcock chicken, chicken soup, seasoned beans and rice, and granola.
    We paid a little extra on the principal of our mortgage. Our goal is to have it paid off before I retire in 8 years.
    I found some good deals online for Christmas gifts for the grandkids on Black Friday. Every year I create a photo calendar on Shutterfly for my parents with a coupon code that saves a lot. Every picture that I take on my phone uploads automatically onto my account on their website so it makes it very easy to make the calendar.

  37. Glad to see you’re feeling better, Brandy. It’s so hard being sick when there’s so much going on. Early in our marriage, I caught something around the first of December. After a week of feeling horrible, I *cancelled* Christmas lol! I let everyone know and spent a couple of weeks at home. I started to improve about a week before Christmas, but was afraid of catching something else with such a big family gathering. I sent my husband off to his family with my blessings. It turned out that my best friend’s husband got called into work so she came over with lunch and snacks. It was pouring rain and cold – so odd for Southern Cal – so we lit the fireplace, got some blankets, and sat feet to feet on the sofa and had a girly yackfest! We still joke that it was one of our favorite days because it was so peaceful.

    I think fried chicken sounds like a great idea. I know from my husband’s huge family that Thanksgiving is a lot of work even with so many women working on it. One turkey wasn’t nearly enough and with all the sides…. Even better that your family loves it. You can always use the turkeys on a more mellow day!

    I didn’t record all my accomplishments, but I did write down a few.
    * I found celery for 89¢ (half the price) so I bought enough for soup until the end of winter, diced it up, and froze it.
    I also added all the leaves and such to my broth box for stock.
    * I brought up the last 100 or so books that my mother in law gave me. She was an avid reader. I donated about 30 of them and shelved the others by author, series, etc. I never thought I’d see the bottom of that pile!
    *We replaced our Christmas lights with the LEDs. Don’t like them nearly as much, but I hope they save money. We bought them on clearance in January.
    * Our Dillons had their fall decor at 90% off. I found some tall flower filler things in cranberry color for about $1 ea. I have a tall vase and my old Christmas flowers looked bad. For $3, I’m thrilled!! They look like pecan sized buds on long stems.
    * Used a B1G1 off coupon that husband found in a parking lot and had sandwiches at Jersey Mike’s. Delicious!
    * Needed a couple of things from Hobby Lobby that I figured would cost about $20. Found them on sale and clearance for just $13! Did not look around in order to keep my saved $7 lol!!
    * Received 3 lbs. of Kauai coffee from my best friend that she sent after visiting the plantation while on vacation there. Yum!!

    That’s all I wrote down! Now I’m thinking about getting some fried chicken for Christmas!! I think my husband would love it. Brandy, what’s the time/temp for reheating it? Thanks! I can make mashed potatoes and gravy, warm up some green beans…. 🤔. Sounds good to me!

    1. My mom put it on a rack on top of a half-sheet pan lined with aluminium foil. I don’t know how long but I would think 350° would be perfect.

      1. Brandy if it’s cold chicken from the fridge, I heat it just the same. I usually go for about 30 minutes if the breasts aren’t huge. If the breasts are really big, I cut them in half and heat it that way and the meat is never dried out.

  38. My husband had Covid last week–it felt more like a cold for him–but that restricted our activities. We were fine at home eating what we had in the fridge. I am grateful that I can pick up Covid tests at our local library because we went through quite a few of them!

    I was in charge of our church Christmas dinner last night. We had lots of helpers so that made the work easier. I was able to bring home three lemons, three purple onions, couscous, some dried lentils, pit, homemade hummus, some mint and parsley.

    I am working on knitting projects, listening to books on tape (well, CD actually) and enjoying watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music. I have my decorations up and cards sent (I enjoy being able to do this), but do want to reduce the amount of Christmas decorations I have down from three storage containers to two. I used to have four of them. I have finished a lot of my Christmas shopping too!

  39. The photo of the pomegranates on the paisley tablecloth is so pretty. Such beautiful colors. Glad you are feeling better, Brandy!
    *We had a lovely Thanksgiving celebration with my parents and my husband’s parents. It is not too often that my boys have both sets of grandparents with them at the same time and we enjoyed it so much. The food was wonderful and everyone had leftovers to take home, which is my favorite part. We ate leftovers in one form or another for the next 8 days. I was gratified to see that everything I cooked was from ingredients I had on hand already (minus the turkey which I bought for 47 cents/lb.) so it was about as stress-free a gathering as can be.
    *I don’t normally buy anything on Black Friday or Cyber Monday but, this year, I did find a couple of things I had been needing and was waiting for a sale or couldn’t find second-hand. Overalls are pretty much my daily uniform and I especially like the Duluth ones, so I bought a new pair when they had there 30% off with free shipping deal. I also purchased a new mattress cover for my son’s bed (not exciting but needed as his was almost threadbare) for 50% off/free shipping+ 12% cash back through Rakuten. I have also been needing a new tablecloth and hadn’t found one the right size second-hand so I found one for 50% off /free shipping. That was quite a shopping spree for me but all needed/useful things.
    *We were given 5 chickens! Our neighbors asked if we wanted them as they felt they were not able to care for them anymore and we said “Yes, please!” They also gave us a small chicken coop and run that my sons plan to use to raise Silkie chickens (a small breed of chicken often kept as pets and to raise chicks as they are known to be excellent mothers.) It needs some good cleaning and a paint job but it will be a fun project to work on so it can be ready by Spring. These same neighbors have a grandson who raises Silkies and has promised us as many Silkie chicks as we would like for free (as a thanks for helping their grandparents with some other tasks) so that will allow my boys to try this new venture with no money down, just sweat equity. 🙂
    *We have begun decorating our house for Christmas. The fact that I am hopelessly sentimental and love nature means that doing so costs no money. I use many beloved decorations from childhood as well as those inherited from relatives mixed with natural greenery along with ribbon I save from year to year. It all comes together to make a festive atmosphere that reminds me of so many special times and people.
    *Wishing everyone a lovely week, as always!

  40. For Thanksgiving this year, my daughter and her son moved in with us. Not what we’d planned for this season at all, and it’s thrown us into survival mode as we sort things out. At least she was asked to return to her former job and that’s a huge blessing. I’m sharing this here because a few of you are familiar with us and I’ve been asked not to mention family in my own blog posts. I hope you don’t mind Brandy that I am sharing here because we share some readers. Now for daughter to save and move OUT once again. In the meantime, there’s no income until first pays, and since I’d spent roughly most of my December grocery budget in anticipation of the holiday weekend and guests plus family, we are pretty much done. Now we shall spend the next few weeks doing our level best to eat what we have without shopping for more. Like Brandy, I’ve avoided buying any number of impulse items from cyber sales. Instead, we are sitting tight. I had stuffing and a bit of turkey and green bean casserole left of the Thanksgiving meal. The green bean casserole made a very good leftover makeover Tater Tot casserole with the addition of hamburger. With just a pound of meat it made a full 9 x 13 pan and so served us two meals. We were taken out to eat and brought leftovers home with us. That served 3 people a light supper. Leftovers from a pot roast made both roast beef hash and a big pot of vegetable beef soup (light on beef heavy on vegetables and broth). Leftover fried chicken was skinned and sliced and made buffalo chicken strips for a salad. I am sadly lacking in Christmas spirit and am attempting to generate it with reading, Bible study and decorating using what I have. I have not put up a tree yet but just decorated the sideboard in the dining area and the mantel in the living room today. They will likely be tweaked a few times before I’m satisfied but it’s a start. It is strictly ‘use what you have’. This year I’ve used Nutcrackers on the mantel. I had quite a collection with some nearly 40 years old now. They were looking pretty shabby, but I bought a small length of white furry material to refresh hair and beards, a packet of gold braids and ribbons, jewels and pretty buttons to dress up the uniforms. I used a hot glue gun to refurbish them about 15 years ago. They’ve held up pretty well. We took our 2005 Toyota to be serviced this week. They are incredibly good cars and if maintained properly truly will last up to 400,000. Ours has been driven for the past 10 years now and is 195,000 miles. Incredibly I’ve been asked twice by a dealership to sell the car to them and not the sort that call out of the blue! Each time we were on a lot while someone else bought a car or was having a repair done. These are highly sought-after cars. That’s just how well they hold up. We get 33 miles to the gallon for most all of our driving, too, but that is long driving not the stop/start city driving.

  41. Glad you are on the mend, Brandy and that your husband has found alternate employment. We have an 18 year old Toyota and it funds like a charm. They are very reliable little cars that are easy on gas.

    I finally got a batch of spaghetti sauce made from the garden tomatoes that I had frozen. I want to make some tomato paste and pizza sauce from frozen tomatoes so hope to get to that in the next week. I got some apples at .59$/ pound so also made a batch of applesauce as my son eats it every morning with breakfast.

    We have had all meals at home and I have kept shopping for groceries to a minimum as prices are really high and there is often shortages, especially of produce. We have been using the library for books, magazines and videos.

    We continue to be blessed by our buy nothing group. We have received some specialty tea, a men’s fleecy robe, quite a few videos, a pine one wreath which will be lovely on the front door in the new year, and a Nespresso machine and some coffee for it. It needed a clean but is still not working so my husband will chat with the company to see if he can get it going.

    We have started our Christmas baking and decorating and will continue on with that over the next couple of weeks. It’s nice to be at home working on these projects at a leisurely pace. The roads and the stores are too busy for my liking at this time of year and my shopping is done anyway. Just the last minute groceries to do at this point as far as shopping goes.

    Hope everyone has a lovely week!

  42. Hello, frugal friends from the rainy Appalachian Mountains! I’m so sorry Brandy and others have been sick. I wish all a quick and full recovery. I am so glad to hear that your husband has found a job. Also, we had a Toyota truck that lasted 22 years. As someone else mentioned, Toyotas and Hondas last forever. We had a Honda Accord for 14 years then sold it to our son who drove it another 5 years before selling it during COVID to a dealer for more than he paid us for it. It was a wise choice you all made with a Toyota. By coincidence I just reread your post on being a one car family. Mr. Fixit and I have decided to go down to one car soon. We decided to order a new Toyota vehicle with extra safety features as we are both retired now and really do not need two cars. We will trade in our current Honda Accord and the Toyota truck so will have no car payment. We are going to buy a small trailer to haul the annual mulch, dirt, etc, but they are not too expensive around here for what we want.
    On the frugal front:
    *Mr. Fixit made several repairs around the house.
    *I had $8 in loyalty bucks one week so used them to buy produce and dairy. I had $3 last week so bought more produce that was on sale. $11 in free groceries!
    *We bought gift cards at Kroger for Christmas gifts and accumulated fuel points to be used on our next gas fill up.
    *I have bought minimal groceries the past few weeks. We have so much in our pantries and freezers.
    *I received a coupon for a package of free cheese slices so I picked them up when we bought the gift cards.
    *Our DIL gave us some free tea bags and bubble wrap mailers they were going to throw away at her job.
    *I had bought fresh cranberries when they were on sale before Thanksgiving and finally canned 8 pints of cranberry juice.
    *I also canned 8 pints of applesauce from the remaining apples I had stored from when we went apple picking in September before our big trip.
    *I have made 2 baby quilts using everything from my stash. Like Garden Pat, I pieced together batting remnants from past projects. (I always think I am so clever when I read something on this blog from one of you frugal friends and then do it.:)
    *Like Becky H, My granddaughter and I made 25 little gnomes using yarn, TP tubes and yarn. She loves to craft and these were so easy. I did have to buy yarn, but used leftover pompoms for the noses saving the cost of buying beads. She wanted to make enough for all her teachers and classmates.
    *We are doing minimal Christmas shopping this year. We went to Belk and using their sales, coupons and free shipping arranged for a sweater to be sent to my MIL via my brother in law who is going down to Alabama and can hand deliver the gift for us. She is in memory care and is always complaining she is cold. She is 89.
    *Our biggest frugal win is that a friend gave us a $1600 Balsam Hill Christmas tree. They had ordered it and it came damaged. The company told them to throw it away and sent them a new one. Mr. Fixit took a look at it and told them he could fix it, but they said we could just have it! We donated our old one as no one we knew needed it. Our new one is beautiful and so much easier to set up and take down.
    *I arranged for UPS to pick up and ship my one Christmas package. The USPS was going to charge me over $40 to mail this 4# package to Alabama! UPS charged me $23 and picked it up off my front porch saving me time and gas. It is a small Christmas quilt I made for one of my former students who is working 2 jobs and putting herself through community college in Alabama. I am so proud of her as she did not come from the best circumstances and is so determined to become a nurse. She has the brains for the job, for sure. I have known her since kindergarten.
    Brandy, I wear trifocals and have to get new glasses almost yearly. As others have mentioned, it does take a couple of days to adjust, but then it’s second nature.
    Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, blessed week!

  43. 1. I used the Flashfood app and shopped sales for groceries this week – saving over $80.
    2. I talked to my partner about setting a goal to cook through the freezer and pantry over the next few months – he is on board.
    3. I’m visiting my parents and a friend for my birthday in a few weeks – they live in my hometown, about 85 miles from where I live now. I researched the cost of taking the Amtrak vs. driving my car and decided to take the train. I’m really excited – using train transport isn’t the go-to for most people in this area. And I don’t think about it often bc usually I’m bringing our dogs with me and Amtrak only allows small doggos. They’re not coming this time, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try out train transport between these cities.
    4. I “walked” away from multiple impulse purchases online over the past few days. I’m sick, which is when I tend to aimlessly scroll and buy.
    5. I had a work trip to Miami last week with multiple, high profile events. I managed to shop my closet for all but one event, and for that one, I found a great dress on an online thrift store. On the same site, I also found the perfect dress for my job’s über fancy gala that will take place in June next year (I’m a fundraiser for a nonprofit). It is a black-tie gown…with pockets, for $50. I’m very excited.

    1. I always love taking the train!

      I bought several clothing items from Thread Up this year. I was going to buy a formal gown and had it in my cart, but I went to bed and someone bought it before I woke up!

      What site are you using?

    2. Amtrak also has very generous luggage allowances. I boxed up some day lilies and hostas from my yard and took them across half the country when I took the train to visit a friend with a new house.

  44. Due to the cooler weather we’d been having, we were able to keep our central air and heat off for several weeks, and open the windows. This week it has warmed up again (upper 70s and humid) so we are back to running the central air. In December! Last year we had to run it on Christmas Day, so I am hoping it cools down again before that. Turning the central system off is a huge savings for our electric bill, and a nice treat.

    We cooked and ate Thanksgiving dinner at home, and had a lovely, relaxing day. We had smoked turkey with gravy, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cream cheese corn, cranberry sauce, brioche rolls, and chocolate pecan pie. We were both off work for several days around the holiday. We watched several holiday movies at home. We got our Christmas tree up and decorated, hung up our stockings, did some other decorating, and extra house cleaning – the things we don’t always have time to attend to during a regular week when we’re both working. We ate almost all meals at home, and enjoyed white turkey chili with cornbread, turkey sandwiches, and turkey tetrazzini with our Thanksgiving leftovers.

    I got my hair trimmed. I colored it at home, and did my own manicure. We looked through our bills and reduced a subscription service to a lower tier to save around $20/month. We didn’t do any Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping. I used a 20% coupon at Sephora to purchase a hair appliance I needed to replace. I am going on an indefinite “no buy” for cosmetic items starting this month (excluding what I know my husband has already purchased as Christmas gifts). I have been going through what I have and decluttering/giving away items that I did not like or that I know I won’t be able to use before they expire. My goal is to use up what I have – cosmetics and skincare are problem areas for me as I really enjoy them (I wear makeup on a daily basis and love doing so), but also receive a lot for consumer testing and review, so I have a large surplus. I have been doing the majority of our grocery shopping at Aldi to save money. I purchased Christmas gifts for my employees at Aldi as well (a nicely boxed gift candle).

    Work has been very busy for me. I work for a church and December is always hectic. Most days I go home at lunch to make my lunch. I take my coffee and snacks to work with me. My husband takes his lunch – his office has a lovely outdoor picnic area.

    I hope everyone has a lovely week!

  45. Hello!

    Thanksgiving Day was busy and crazy. For some reason, my husband always wants to go to the store on Thanksgiving morning. We have everything but he always thinks of something he needs. We went to the store and then came home and worked on dinner prep with lots of help from family. Leftovers were eaten the rest of the week. I’m not a big fan of turkey and let the others munch their way through the meat leftovers. My one and only way I enjoy turkey is to make leftovers into a casserole. I layer stuffing on the bottom, cooked veggies, turkey, mashed potatoes and then topped with gravy. I’ve done this with chicken and also beef. I froze 2 servings of casserole for future meals. Gave one serving to my child’s college friend and one serving to my son and daughter in law. I’ve also been freezing meals we haven’t finished. I’ve pulled food to give to my kids when needed – chicken noodle soup, casseroles, clam chowder, taco soup, etc. It’s really handy and very helpful to me to give to someone else.

    I did some shopping on Black Friday but not nearly as much as previous years. I chose the later shipping option on anything from Amazon and earned digital credit. Anything else was done through Rakuten and using coupon codes. I did subscribe to 3 channels on Prime for 1.99/month to catch up on shows I wanted to watch. I’ll cancel when I’m through with the channel.

    I’ve been busy with my Buy Nothing Group. I’ve picked up free stuffed elephants and free serving platters that I will use for Christmas.

    After 25 years, we had saved enough to buy new carpet for our upstairs and 2 downstairs bedrooms. The carpet was on sale and had incentives for getting it done before Christmas. My husband and children moved all the heavy stuff out and then back in. The company did come measure but we have enough carpet left over for another small bedroom, plus padding. My husband has plans to use it in other areas of our home. Not frugal was my husband sending me to a hotel for 2 1/2 days so I could avoid the noise and racket of the carpet install. He did earn points on my stay. And I loved the peace and quiet and not having my nerves completely shot. I ate my meals at the hotel that were breakfast and a manager’s special dinner. I took fruit, bread & peanut butter and yogurt from the breakfast to eat for lunch. I enjoyed watching shows and reading my books. We had a snowstorm while I was there and it was so peaceful to be snuggled in reading in a darkened room and watching the snow fall.

    I’ve been keeping our heat at 68 during the day and 63 at night. My family can’t handle any lower. But I turn the heat down to 63 during the day when I’m home by myself. Working on my home or cleaning keep my warm. If I take a break, I snuggle under a weighted blanket.

    All meals were eaten at home except for our date night. I’ve decided to start helping my teenager by making lunch for school again. She is busy and isn’t utilizing leftovers that we have in the fridge. And since we have to be careful with her diet, I want to make sure she is getting plenty to eat. She works at a car wash and gets quite cold in the booth. I put hot chocolate in a thermos for her today and she was so happy! Plus oranges, 1/2 avocado, GF cauliflower cheese quesadillas, homemade trail mix, cut up veggies with homemade dip and a small treat. After a rough day, she was thrilled to have a yummy work dinner to take with her.

    My husband changed the oil in our car, registered our vehicles for the year, fixed the toilet and a short in our oven, mowed up grass and leaves and worked his job. Very grateful for him and his hard work.

    We had a family party and I brought shredded cheese we already had as my contribution. They always do a white elephant exchange which we chose not to participate in. We have enough stuff! But several of my kids did and had a wonderful time.

    A wedding gift was needed and I went to my stash for the last two wrapped wedding presents. We bought them 5 years ago and have just been patiently giving the gift as needed. I wrapped them and stored them. I handmade a card from my scrapbook supplies and dropped it off while running errands.

    Have a wonderful week!

  46. My goodness, I didn’t realize how many weeks of posts I’ve missed here! I hope you all had a happy thanksgiving! I’m glad you and your family are getting well Miss Brandy. Thankfully since I began wearing a mask when out and about back in 2020, hubby and I have stayed well. The only health issues I have been dealing with have nothing to do with contagion unfortunately. Take good care of yourself!

  47. To Mary,
    I’m so very sorry for what you are going through. My mother went through the same thing after 45 years of marriage. My mother had difficulty standing up for herself and ended up with a terrible divorce settlement. She went to her grave worried sick about money and my dad had plenty. The advice already given is excellent. Get the best divorce lawyer you can and demand everything. Take care of yourself.

  48. So glad your husband has found a fit for a second job option – and what a great deal on the car! I hope it serves your family well for many years to come. 🙂

    Most of our frugal things have been “the usual” – we are completely unpacked and settled from our move, so now things are quieting down a bit on the expenses. (Finally!) I took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Week sales to pick up Christmas gifts and some other things, not a lot of buying but coming right after a move it continues that feeling of “bleeding money”.

    I found out our gas company has some rebates available on energy conserving items, as well as learned more about state and federal tax incentives for a variety of things from appliances to large home projects for energy efficiency, so that’s a helpful bump for things we plan to do in the future anyway. Every bit counts, right? 😀 I will get bids from contractors in the coming months, then we can save up cash for each investment. I found them with basic tax incentive searches (for state and federal) and also by looking up energy conservation ideas through the US Dept of Energy. The information about the gas company’s rebates was in the customer payment website, where they give conservation tips and such. (AND I found out our electric company has a college scholarship for graduating high schoolers; my 15yo son graduated homeschool high school this month and plans to apply, as he starts college next month. No guarantees but if you have a high schooler, check with all those utility companies and even your bank/mortgage holder – some do offer them, and many folks don’t apply as they don’t know about it!)

    For those who purchase whole chickens, I recently saw a tip from a lady who made the very most of a deal on bone-in chicken: as most already do, she cooked up the chicken, deboned it, and used the bones for making broth – but THEN she baked the bones and ground them up to make bonemeal fertilizer for her garden! She didn’t give specifics, just mentioned that she found the instructions online – but I’m sure those interested could find ideas with a search? I hope that helps somehow, especially with the mentions lately of supply issues for fertilizer; I’m not sure if that’s for the industrial level or if it will affect us home gardeners, but it can’t hurt to give it a shot if we have the bones anyway.

    Happy Holidays to all, whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope it’s a time of love and laughter for you and yours!

      1. So glad it was useful!

        She did mention that she burned her sheet pan, so now that’s her “bonemeal” pan – but I wonder if a layer of tinfoil or silicone mat might have helped? Or one could just use an old/thrifted pan and dedicate it to the task as she now has.

  49. I went online today to Sam’s club to order some more POM toilet paper (thank you Brandy for the recommendation) and a few other items. Yikes! The price on POM has gone up substantially. I am a plus member for free shipping, but on many items, free shipping isn’t free. For example on the POM toilet paper, the price if you pick it up is $25-26, if you get it shipped with “free delivery” it is $32. Wow! The other items had similar markups, so I deleted everything in my cart. Sometime when I know I will be near the store, I will do a pickup order. However, not all items have that hidden price increase. Last week I ordered 8 cans of Ranch beans and two containers of Parmesan cheese, there was no difference in price between pickup and shipment, so those items I ordered to be shipped (and I compared to Costco and local stores and the prices were the best). Amazing amount of time it takes to do the research…but worth it in the end.

  50. Doesn’t feel like a lot of frugality going on this week, but I continue to declutter, and I’ve found a few items we might be able to sell rather than just donate. Sold a high-end hitch mounted bike rack on FB marketplace for $100; this was a hand-me-down from my dad a few years back when he moved and we never got around to using it. I decided about a year ago that my mountain biking days are behind me, so I’m trying to sell my bike, too. A few of my kids still ride, but it’s no trouble just to continue putting their bikes in the back of the van with the seats down if they want to ride somewhere away from home.

    Of all things to break this week, my mop bucket developed a huge crack in the bottom. But then I remembered my dad gave me his steam mop a few years ago (another item he was just going to donate because he was moving), so I guess I’ll finally get around to trying that out in lieu of replacing the mop bucket for now. So I’m hoping to use this week to discover anything else in the house/garage that I could use, donate, or sell.

    I already cook quite a bit from scratch, but I’m trying to expand my repertoire. Yesterday I made an apple pie completely from scratch for the first time ever, which is a huge win because my oldest has a milk allergy, and it’s expensive to purchase a ready-made pie without milk products. I also made buns to go with our homemade black bean burgers, which I’ve done before, but I’ve fallen off the wagon the last couple years with baking. The recipe was for the King Arthur Beautiful Burger Buns, and they are definitely superior to most of what’s at the store.

    Nothing else remarkable, just the usual frugal stuff in regards to food, laundry, not buying stuff. God bless you, Brandy, and everyone else, for the

  51. I haven’t commented in a long time; this covers several weeks.
    I made new meals with Thanksgiving leftovers: turkey pot pie, turkey soup, turkey enchiladas, sweet potato pancakes.
    I’ve listed several things for sale, but sales are pretty slow this time of year.
    I am mostly finished Christmas shopping, mostly within budget. My childless aunt has always spoiled my children, and each year gives me $100/child to buy them a gift from her. I’m able to stretch her money and mostly fill in with a few smaller things (from Santa), plus garage sale and thrift store finds. Leftover Halloween candy and some free samples I’ve requested fill stockings.
    I’m giving final exams online, so will save on babysitting costs next week, as well as travel to/from campus.
    I scheduled an appointment to have my hair cut at a beauty school. I’m not able to get it exactly even myself, and haven’t had a real haircut in about 3 years, other than occasional trims I give myself.
    We’ve been attending a lot of free Christmas events: a Polar Express movie night, a Christmas festival with petting and zoo, and one where they had a free bbq dinner for everyone! It’s fun to get out
    I will use a Bed Bath and Beyond giftcard to buy a gift for a cousin’s wedding.
    I made a new casserole using odds and ends, Tightwad Gazette style (Amy D’s old casserole wizardry recipe). It was good!
    Had to turn the AC back on; it will get moldy with our high humidity if our house gets above 80. We’ve had record high heat.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

  52. -We have also been battling illness at our house. I had managed to not get sick through the first several weeks but it’s finally caught up to me. Thankful to have a well stocked pantry. I made venison roast, zucchini lasagne, turkey and dumpling soup, pulled chicken and rice bowls, sourdough, banana date blondies and pumpkin muffins. Some nights we just ate cereal and went to bed.
    -I picked up 2 pumpkins off the street, roasted and puréed them and threw them in the freezer. Still enjoying fresh herbs and the last Swiss chard and kale from the garden.
    -Bought some loss leaders at Kroger and some staples at Aldi. We don’t often drink juice, but I was grateful to have some on hand for the sick kids.
    -I sold my sons toddler bed and did some extra work for a friend, which paid for my sons new big boy bed I found on FB. I also sold some other stuff on FB and eBay. Trying to use what we have to decorate the kids rooms.
    -We buy a real tree every year, as it’s something I really enjoy. The kind of tree I like were $80 and looked very Charlie Brown like. I bought a different kind that was $35 and looks great, and used a gift card to cover the cost.
    -Bought a running jacket, pajamas, a new puzzle, and my husband a dress shirt from thrift store. Did not buy anything Black Friday or cyber Monday. We did an opt outside hike on Black Friday at a local park.

  53. Brandy, I read about your concern about getting multifocals and using them with your camera.
    Some cameras have a diopter adjustment button so you can adjust the diopter and not have to wear your glasses.
    But if you don’t have that, don’t worry at all. I have used my camera with multifocals with no problem at all.
    I had not had my eyes checked for 4 years – how that happened I’m not really sure except the last 2 years of it was due to covid.
    One day I realized I couldn’t identify any of the nearby birds. Then I realized I couldn’t see a thing. I guess I had worked on the book on my computer and never noticed any problem closeup. Well, I have to admit that I panicked and went to see my ophthalmologist.
    Fortunately, I just need a huge change in my prescription. Normally, it takes 3-4 weeks to really adjust but this time it took me a lot longer. It is because the prescription change was so great. I think I don’t have any problems with the camera because the reading line/area is towards the bottom,, the mid range is towards the middle, long distance is towards the top. So most things are mid distance from you
    that you want to photograph. I think you’ll adjust when you’re using your camera. Good luck!

    1. It’s been okay! My husband said he couldn’t see the red focus square but I didn’t have any issues at all!

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