I moved a rose bush that I never moved in the renovation but have been meaning to move to a new spot in the garden. When I went to take it out, there was still a root attached on one side that I hadn’t seen, so the rose stayed in place while a part of it came off in my hand–with the root still attached. I think this is from above the graft as we had added soil to the bed during the renovation and the rose was buried somewhat deeply. I planted the broken part with roots, so I may end up with a second rose bush for nothing!

I got lots of exercise in the garden as I worked outside. I painted part of the pergola, dug up a few things and moved them to new places, ran new drip lines, and planted seeds. I sowed seeds for poppies, nasturtiums, green onions, lettuce, spinach, and Bells of Ireland in the garden.

I planted bulblets from our daffodils that I dug before the renovation. They have spent a year and a half in buckets with soil. They are tiny and won’t produce flowers for a few years, but then I will have even more daffodils in my garden in spring. My daffodils had multiplied and were no longer producing flowers, and so needed to be dug and divided. While most of them were already planted, there were (and still are) some more I need to get in the ground.

I needed more manure, so I made sure to buy 10 bags at a time from the local nursery, as 10 or more results in 10% off.

My husband was looking for a tool. He found a used one on Craig’s List for $1450, a savings of about $5000 over buying new. He wanted his brother to go with him to look at it, but his brother missed his calls, and it was sold before they could go. He looked for some others and found another one for $600, but it was three to four hours away and would cost quite a bit in gas to go get. We discussed how he would use the tool (it was three tools in one–a drill press, a mill, and a lathe) and while he wants to use all three, he would primarily use the drill press. So, after talking about it, he decided to look for just a drill press to see what was available. He found one across town for $150. We went to go see it, and he was able to buy it for $120! I love that he researches what he needs and wants. He takes his time doing it, checks out YouTube videos on each model that he sees listed for sale to see what features it has (or doesn’t have!), and looks to see if replacement parts are available for used ones if need be. The time he spends researching saves us a lot of money.

When he brought it home, he took it apart and used a degreaser to clean it. He welded a stand for the drill press to sit on from steel scraps that we had left from our projects. He also welded attachments to the drill press for tools.

Since we would be passing Ikea on the way back from there, we stopped in to purchase a chair that I needed, saving gas and time.

I sold my mom’s old dryer on Facebook Marketplace that I did not sell at our garage sale in November. She bought a new set and gave me the old one to sell.

I used the warm up-water from my shower, cooking water and water leftover in drinking glasses at the end of the day to water all of the potted plants in the garden that don’t have drip irrigation to them.

I read five e-books from the library, four of which I would recommend: Mala’s Cat, The Choice, Just Haven’t Met You Yet, and The Butler.

I found cans of tomatoes on sale for $0.33 each at Winco (this appeared to be a manager’s special). I bought 36 cans. We’ll probably use 2 to 4 at a time in recipes. I don’t usually buy this size anyone with our large family, but sometimes I need just a few tomatoes in something (like my pasta e fagioli soup) and then I won’t need to open a large can.

I had my son bring home milk from work (he can bring home a gallon in a backpack) to save a trip to the store.

Natural gas rates went from $0.23 to $0.44 a therm–almost double. My January bill is always the highest one for the year–and it was lower than ever. My usual January bill is $75 to $100, so last year’s bill was a blessing as well (though last January we didn’t have a working oven and so did no baking; we could still cook on the stovetop).

My gas bill from the gas company’s website

We have kept the house at 65F most of the time, which means the heat rarely turns on. I have opened curtains on the south side of the house to let in light (no need to turn on the lights) and to warm the house during the day; some days it would warm up to 70F. I cooked rice until boiling and then turned it off and put a lid on top. I cooked multiple items in the oven at once, making sure it was full (something I have not done in past years). Sometimes the items would be a side dish and sometimes they were for a different meal. I did not preheat the oven unless I was baking, and then made sure to not preheat it longer than necessary. I made sure water for anything was covered on the stove while I waited for pans to boil. Members of the family took shorter showers. I talked to the children about this and thanked them; I know it’s easy to want to stand in the shower for a long time. I showed them the gas bill and what a difference it had made.

I made French bread, biscuits, salad dressing, and pizza, among other things.

A friend offered me two gallons of milk that were going to expire the next day. When I got to her house, she also had a bunch of canned goods and some barbeque sauce that she wasn’t going to use, and she gave me those too. I made crepes and pudding using the milk, and we drank the rest of the milk in two days. I made soups using the canned vegetables that she gave us.

I passed down several pullovers, a cardigan that I rarely wear, and t-shirts to three daughters. They are just a little shorter than I am and are a size smaller. The sweaters are cotton and had shrunk in length over the years, but should fit my daughters without a problem.

I pulled clothes out of the bin of hand-me-downs from my eldest that I have in the same size for a daughter who needed a few more shirts.

What did you do to save money last week?

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200 Comments

  1. It’s too bad we don’t live closer as my husband, who is almost 80, has been letting go a lifetime tool collection over the past couple of years. We really are pretty much at the age where physical things need to be hired out, and he abhors putting things up for sale and waiting for buyers. We have given a few things to a son but he lives in an apartment. Your husband is certainly to be applauded into getting a tool he needs from $1400 down to $120. Way to go.

    I also liked hearing that even though your garden plantings are pretty new, you are already moving some things around. I thought it was just me that always had something that needed moving in my three flower plots. A garden is always a work in progress, isn’t it? My usual modus operandi when I hit the garden center is to fall in love with a half a dozen plants, purchase them all, bring them home, and THEN try to figure a space for them. A bit wasteful, so this year I’m being more purposeful about the holes in my flowerbeds.

    1. Hi Anne,

      If there is a Trades school nearby, they might be willing to take some tools off your hands if money isn’t a concern. Our school has a bin where students can look for tools they might need and not be able to afford.
      Or there may be a group that helps people find jobs in the trades fields that could find the tools a good home or be able to put up a list of tools you are looking to part with.

    2. When it came time to clear out my parents house (in New Zealand) I gave many of my late dad’s tools, including his workbench, to a church program that provided training and support to young men to enable them to get work. I know he would have been very happy for them to be used in this way. I did keep some of the smaller tools that I could haul back – they always remind me of him.

    3. Hi Anne,
      There may be a high school or community college manufacturing/woodworking program that would be able to match tools with students.

  2. What a smart Hubs you have! Mine also researches things well and looks for alternatives. A real money saver!, We were able deposit another $35 in cc rewards into our savings account. We also got a $235. reimbursement for OOP prescription costs we had during the year! That was a nice surprise!

    As part of using only the food we have at home this month without shopping, I found a recipe for “Are You Kidding” cake https://pin.it/1vR2GK8. It uses only 3 ingredients: cake mix (which I have on my pantry shelves but don’t use often), eggs (from my chickens) and a can of pie filling (which I discovered is 2-1/3 cups). The irony is that I have several varieties of pie filling in quart jars even though I don’t bake pies! 🤪 The first one I made used peach pie filling and yellow cake mix. I thought Hubs was going to eat the whole cake! It was definitely a winner. On Saturday, I used strawberry pie filling and strawberry cake mix! Another big winner!! And a week later, I used blueberry pie filling and lemon cake mix!! A great way to rotate out some of our food storage!

    The reason I am so grateful to have the filled pantry that we do became evident last week. The 96 year old husband of a friend of ours went by squad to hospital and we were able to take dinner over to his wife that night on a moment’s notice (including some peach “Are you kidding” cake for dessert!)
    On Monday afternoon we called to check on two older single friends who live in the same apartment building and found out that they have both tested positive for Covid. They have been feeling unwell and hadn’t been able to do any shopping. We filled a homemade cloth tote bag (made years ago with scrap fabric) for each of them and put 5 cans of Progresso soup, a loaf of bread, breakfast pastries, strawberry “Are you kidding” cake and a dozen fresh eggs from our chickens. That should help them out for 5 days. Hubs delivered it to their apartments doors after calling them first.
    The week before, we took dinner to our across the alley neighbor whose partner had died.
    What a blessing to have enough and to share with others!!

    Just as our car needed gas, we found it for $2.69/gallon (It’s averaging around $2.98 and higher). Filled it up and were grateful because we were able to drive our 83 year old friend and her 96 year old husband from the hospital near us up to the hospital 2 hours away where their son (a doctor) lives and has privileges. This way, he can keep tabs on his dad through his rehab and his mom can stay with them. This past week, we have been picking her up every morning and evening to get her between her home and the hospital so she isn’t driving in our wintry weather and/or dark at night! It’s about 20 minutes each way to go between her house and hospital. Last Sunday night, Hubs drove her van and I followed in our car in the snowstorm 92 miles from hospital here to the other hospital he was transferred to. Our car needed gas the next morning after that trip, but again, how grateful we were to have been prepared to make that unexpected trip on a Sunday!

    I’m just finished quilting the king size quilt that came in last Friday. It is Lenni’s #226! https://pin.it/7A2wVUK and https://pin.it/7sHvzqd and https://pin.it/5T6SCqZ. It is 105” x 130”!
    I also found a free online pattern for hand warmers to put in your pockets when you go outside in the cold! Here’s the link: https://hellosewing.com/diy-hand-warmers/. I used more of my red wheat that I have so much of rather than rice the directions call for and it works just as well! https://pin.it/3MghSZH

    I pressure canned another 13 pints of chicken breast chunks to refill my shelf, plus 22 additional pints for my DIL and son with the new size baby. I like to keep restocking more as I get down about a dozen so that I usually have 54 pints of chicken on my pantry shelf. I need to take inventory of my canned beans and see if it’s time to get more canned. I like to keep a dozen of each variety on the shelf, ready to open and use. https://pin.it/6Amfzfr

    Libby- I didn’t see your question about the free forms for medical directives our county (Franklin) in Ohio offers. And btw, Maxine, our county allows us to fill these out and file them on our own without needing either an attorney or a PCP.
    https://probate.franklincountyohio.gov/PBCT-website/media/Documents/Forms/Advance%20Directives/State-of-Ohio-Living-Will-Declaration.pdf?ext=.pdf
    https://probate.franklincountyohio.gov/forms/advance-directives
    These are pretty straightforward and our attorney recommended them.

    Still no grocery store runs. No takeaway food. Pantry and freezers still have sufficient left in them. We have now gone for the whole month of January! I discovered 3 marinated turkey roasts I bought on markdown for $1.50 each that got lost in the freezer and cooked one up in oven. We sliced it and ate some with mashed potatoes and veg, but then we thin sliced some of the first one to use on top of lunch salads! The marinade on it was awesome! It’s been fun discovering some of the things that I forgot I had tucked away in the freezer and so our dinners have had a lot of variety! It’s really been a fun exercise and with our weather so frigid, we’ve been just as happy not to have needed to make a quick grocery run!

    We did buy an IKEA “Alex” cabinet of drawers to fit under Lenni. It has 6 identical drawers and I was able to organize my quilting pantographs in them alphabetically! So much easier and less cluttered! Hubs is repurposing a laminate bookcase from our parlour declutter when we got rid of piano and some other furniture to make a drawer unit that will hold my cones of quilting thread. We couldn’t find one we liked anywhere, so Hubs went to his stash of drawer slides (He harvests these from any cabinets that are beyond salvaging). He wanted one additional piece of laminated wood and found one at Home Depot that was in their 70% off bin. Since it had no price or label anywhere on it, the manager just gave it to Hubs free!! So this unit will have no OOP cost!! I will show photos next week when it’s in place. It also fits under Lenni, back to back with the “Alex” cabinet!! It feels energizing to organize and declutter and repurpose some things!

    This week has been long and I’ve gone to bed by 11 pm , rather than 2 AM, and awakened in the morning with more energy. I’ve also added treadmill walking at home twice a day this year. I started with 15 minute sessions and they are now up to 30 minutes each time. I’m taking it in baby steps so I don’t lose momentum and give up! For the month of January, I’ve lost 7.4 pounds! I’ve realized that taking care of myself physically is also a prudent and frugal thing.

    Hope everyone’s week has had something that has brought joy to them!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Aha! Pat, now we all know how you get so much done! You stay up until 2 a.m.!

      Interesting, the different laws different counties and states have regarding advance directives. I’m glad I used a PCP because I honestly would have done it incorrectly, plus we’re on Medicare and our co-pay was only $5. Worth it to me! I think the takeaway here is to assume different states have different laws and to go online and find out local rules…then act accordingly.

      1. Maxine- This new year I set a goal to become more healthy and fit and I’ve been trying hard not to stay up past 11 or 12 at night. So far, so good! I feel more rested and I suspect it may have helped in my weight loss goal as well!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      1. Libby- You’re very welcome! And while every locality has their own way to do things legally, my hope is that this will at least give you a starting-off point to have those conversations and get your wishes in writing. To those left behind, it can make all the difference to know what their loved one had considered and decided. It can lift a burden at a time that is already heart wrenching.

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    2. Gardenpat-how very kind of you to prepare so many food gifts for those in need. I hope your wee grandson is doing well and that his health is improving.

      1. I-
        It seems like Hubs and I have been blessed beyond measure with the security of home, food, family, etc and so we are grateful to share that with those around us!even if it’s just something as simple as a meal.
        We visited our Grandson this week and in the month he’s been home from the hospital, he’s become a little butterball! 😉🥰🥰 He will go back to hospital the beginning of April for “pull through” surgery on intestine and stay about 5 days. They will keep the ostomy bag in tact so the area operated on will have time to heal up. But everything is positive and he is a happy otherwise healthy little guy! Thanks for asking!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

        1. Gardenpat, that is great news on your grandson. I am guessing that he was born with his intestine outside of his body? My dear friend’s daughter is due with a baby boy with that in June, so this is very encouraging to me!

          1. Laura S- Actually, he was born with Down’s Syndrome and also Hirschsprung’s disease which is what the intestinal problem has been. A portion of his lower intestine does not have working nerves so he was not able to expel waste. Hence the G-tube for supplemental feeding and the ostomy bag so that the waste doesn’t remain inside him to cause infection. The “pull through” surgery will remove the part of his intestine that has no feeling and reattach the rest of it that does work. After it heals up, he should be able to have the bag and G tube removed. It’s amazing what medical science can do today compared to 50 years ago!
            Thanks for asking!

            Gardenpat in Ohio
            HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  3. Wow! Your list is inspiring ☺️

    A local pottery studio we love to go to for special occasions had a sample sale. All pieces were $5. I bought some beautiful stoneware mugs, bowls. and a platter to give as a gift.

    BN Group:
    2 new nail polishes, large gnome tin

    Ordered 4 free Covid tests.

    Was treated to a Starbucks latte and a gift card!

    Great clearance finds at grocery store! Huge name brand cereal boxes for $1 or less each (a few were free from digital coupons). Don’t normally buy so definitely a treat. Made some money on a Brick Oven pizza using Ibotta. Also found some good clearance and sale meat finds as well (maybe not what I’d pick but with rising prices I’m thankful for cheaper options).

    Rented more library books and signed up for some more free craft classes. Our county libraries have bags of 10 masks for patrons to take. Always pick one up when I stop by the library!

    Made my mom and I some more all purpose cleaner.

    Worked a few hours at my dad’s office.

    *Thanks to all for the ideas, inspiration, and motivation! Take care ❤️*

  4. From yours and others comments here, I have been putting things in the oven without waiting for it to preheat, and turning it off a little sooner. I opened many jars of our homegrown canned goods, and pulled things from the freezer to eat it down. Parsley and rosemary were harvested, and dried oregano used. I received the 5% senior discount at Harris Teeter, and was happy to find all of the produce that was out at Food Lion. Seeds are now in stock at our local Dollar General and Dollar Tree. I purchased quite a few for the sets I sell with soap, seeds and garden gloves, a best seller last year. I spent a lovely afternoon with my sister celebrating her birthday. Besides lunch and Big Lots (22% off coupon), we went thrifting. I found a large, heavy duty plant roller/dolly and two pottery dinner plates to add to my collection. I’ve got enough plates now that I can start donating some of the non-handmade plates. The last of our onions were used up over the weekend. My husband has been steadily working on our solar project, and got the first row of panels in place. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2022/01/more-wintry-weather-making-power.html

  5. Your husband did a great job with all his researching – what a difference in cost. I checked out a few of your Instagram photos and the garden arches look amazing! What a wonderful job the two of you have done!

    I have been trying to use up all food items on hand and not waste anything. I think the only things I’ve lost over the last couple of weeks is about 2 inches of cucumber and 2 cake mixes that had somehow burst. I’m not too upset as I didn’t really like the mixes and won’t buy them again – the only cake mix that I actually like is the basic Betty Crocker Yellow Cake so I’ll pick up a few of those to have on hand the next time they go on sale. I gave away another couple of fancy flours and a cornbread mix that I knew I wouldn’t use so at least someone will benefit. Since the restaurants were still closed, I cooked a nice birthday lunch for my friend who lives downstairs. Even with buying a small dessert and a small bottle of wine it was still a real savings and she did appreciate the effort. I bought her some flowers to cheer her up and found a lovely card in my stash.

    I’ve had some good offers connected to my Loyalty Card over the past couple of weeks so I’ve been working to combine those with my grocery shopping to reap the most benefits. I’m back to my local grocery store tomorrow for one last top up and then it will be just some fruit & veg and dairy for February. I did manage to keep last month’s spend to less than half my normal amount and hope to do the same this month. I’ve deliberately visited a couple of different grocery stores over the last couple of weeks and haven’t seen any real shortages. My local store was a little low on milk and eggs one morning but apparently the delivery had just arrived and would be out on the shelves shortly. Other than that – no issues. There were some good offers on poultry last week so I bought two club packs of chicken thighs – $5 for 8 large thighs – a very good price for here. I batch cooked one pack and froze the others in two packs of 4 to use later. They also had a really good supply of turkey breasts, drumsticks & wings but I’ve already got some in the freezer and no room left! I also stocked up on my favourite tea bags as I was down to my last box in reserve. I have batch cooked chicken, bacon and lots of veggies so I am set for this week – I’ll just mix and match proteins and sides for the next few day’s main meal. It will be yogurt and fruit for my brunch and I have about half a loaf of ginger cake left that will do for a treat with my afternoon tea so not much cooking to be done until the end of the week. It certainly kept the apt. lovely and warm!

    Finally made a trip to the laundry room after about 6 weeks – I’ll do another few loads later this week and I’ll be all caught up. I only used the dryer for the sheets and towels and hung up everything else. I cancelled a number of streaming services – for at least the next 6 months – still have Netflix, Prime & Acorn so that is more than enough! I’ve read 3 library books this week – “A green and Pleasant Land” might be of interest to some of you. It’s a history of gardening during WWII in England – the truth and the myths – I found it quite fascinating – especially all the planning that went into keeping everyone fed and the importance of women – from the local Women’s Institutes to the Land Girls.

    Aside from a slice of pizza as a treat after a long walk one afternoon I’ve not spent any of my “allowance” money – too cold & snowy and nothing open! It does help to stop the money flowing out. Since I worked mainly from home I still have more than enough money on my transit pass to get through February but will still add about half my usual amount when I’m out later this week – that keeps me ahead of the game.

    I hope that everyone is well and I look forward to reading all your comments.

    1. I knew I’d forgotten something!
      My raise for my PT job came through in January (we get paid around the 25th) and it clears to about $30 per month. Then I discovered that the COLA amounts had come through on all my pension plans – one is about $25 more – another $10 increase – all small amounts but they will more than cover my increase to rent and extra health plan, so along with cancelling a few things I should end up about $50 ahead which will go towards increased food costs.

  6. Hello, everyone!
    *****I wanted to mention something that happened to me, that you may not be aware of. I purchase seeds from several different online suppliers. One of my orders was delivered by our mail carrier to a neighbor by mistake, according to the Post Office’s scan. Well, the neighbor said they didn’t get it. I am out the money for the order, because even though it was the mail service’s fault, the order wasn’t insured by the seed company. I can’t file a claim with the post office. I did some further checking, and it turns out that even though seed companies may charge you for the shipping (i.e. Territorial, $7.95), they are not insured! I found this to be the case on every company I checked. So if the order is lost, or damaged, etc. they are not responsible. I’m just thankful my order that was lost wasn’t one of my largest orders. Going forward, I will only order one packet at a time through Baker Creek, which is where my lost order came from, since they offer free shipping. Some of the companies offer priority shipping, so I will spend the extra money and place one large order next time.

    *****I painted the frames (black) on some existing artwork in my living room. I wish I would’ve done it a long time ago…..they really stand out now.

    *****I don’t like spending money on car washes, but had to do it last week. There are no diy locations in our area anymore, so I tried to get the cheapest option. Our hose is put away for the winter. I’m also a fan of setting the car out in the rain!

    *****I ordered some more solar lights at a great price for our backyard garden and pool area. We have a lot of landscape lighting (installed by the previous owner) but we prefer solar. I use stakes and disc lights.

    *****Meals included: pasta e fagioli, homemade bbq chicken pineapple pizza, chicken taco bowls, spinach mushroom risotto, fried rice and spring rolls, lentil tacos, potato corn chowder, and salmon patties. I found a good air fryer cookbook at the library that I’m looking forward to utilizing….trying to use my oven less.

    *****Like many of you, I keep a list of items that we need when shopping at thrift stores. I rarely stray from the list, but I found this cute tee-pee shaped sign that says: “If you need me, I will be in my tee-pee.” My youngest son has a tee-pee in his room that he heads straight to as soon as he gets home from school. We put the sign on his door. I love those unique thrift store finds!

    Have a great week!

    1. I have had great success with ordering from DollarSeed.com and MIgardener.com instead of Bakers Creek. The seed packets aren’t as pretty but you can find most of the same varieties for 1/4 of the cost.

      1. My credit card company doesn’t allow any disputes that aren’t monthly payments. A one time payment to a company or group that is under a certain dollar amount is just considered your loss. Definitely look into the credit card company policy!

        1. That’s really a shame. I have had any number of disputes, for various reasons, including non delivery and for various amounts of money. I have won every one of them. Our card is through Chase.

  7. I received a $10 Sonic card for a “Bright Idea” I had at my office. Went to the library and I have started reading a series called Yada its in the Christian fiction section. Did a stock up on canned goods and made vegetable soup. Crackers are hard to find here in West Tennessee. My ladies bible study group has started back meeting on Sunday afternoons. My sister gave me a plant she no longer wanted. My niece did a closet cleanout so “new” clothes for me, so now I need to do one. I have a friend I can pass on clothes to. My office gave us lunch one day. Bought some seeds at the dollar store, planning my container garden. My aunt took me to lunch when I took her to run errands.

    1. Crackers are scarce in south central Alabama also. I have no idea why. Chicken also disappears off the shelves fast and we are a major chicken producing state!

    2. O.k…..I thought it was just a fluke when my hubby went to the store 3 times and couldn’t find simple saltine crackers. Hmmmm. We only buy a box about every 3 months, so I’m not too worried, but our neighbor got Covid and I sent food, and I thought a sleeve of saltines would be a nice addition to the soup for a sick person, but no crackers…..he’s feeling much better now, so I’ll just buy a box when I finally see some! Maybe all the sick people ate up all the crackers in America? Sounds a little silly, when I put it like that:)

      1. That is so funny you said that because my oldest son has the stomach flu and I went to get him some things to drop off for him, and there were almost no oyster or saltine crackers. I ended paying 3.50 for one bag of oyster crackers because they were brand name, but all the store had in stock. And there were only a few bags of those. I normally wouldn’t pay that much for oyster crackers, but I didn’t want to run to different stores since we are in the middle of a winter storm.

        1. Matzoh crackers, in the international foods section, are similar to saltines.
          Just make sure to get the plain ones; “everything” spiced matzohs, like everything bagels, would not be soothing to me at all!

        2. I was able to get Winco’s store brand of oyster crackers the other day. It had been at least 3 months since they had any brand of oyster crackers, and their supply of regular saltines was either very low or nonexistent every time I checked. We like the store brands of oyster crackers better than Nabisco because they are crispier. Not to mention, $1.16 per bag!

  8. Gas is 2.97 college town to $3.31 work town. We are in for a bumpy financial ride I am afraid friends so just hang on. My middle son wanted lasagna so I used pasta sauce from Aldi, I think it cost me $1.09, cottage cheese, two kinds of cheese shredded, and ground beef because that is what I had. It would not be exactly authentic but he was happy. I made chili using ingredients I had on hand. He doesn’t like green peppers, I also didn’t have any peppers, and I used onion powder because I didn’t have any onions. Again, it would not win any awards but he was happy. I baked chicken and rice also.

  9. -I downloaded a excel spreadsheet to use our budget this year, to help keep track more. I spent a lot of time setting it up, but excited.
    -Cashed in Swagbucks for a $25 amazon gift card and purchased a book that I previously got and enjoyed from the library.
    -Created a meal plan to help – using a themed dinner night, and wrote out options for each category.
    -I will be freezer cooking in Feb, but I will stay in my normal, grocery budget. Baby #6 is coming soon.
    -Our youngest got “new shoes” – hand me downs from his brother!
    -We refused the meter from the utility company, from our research there is still a lot of health concerns. To avoid the additional $16/mo charge we will be sending in our own reading (the occasionally will come and check them).
    -the kids chose a wii u game from the library since it has been too cold to play outside.
    – my husband gave himself and 2 of the boys haircuts.
    -spending free time listening or reading books to keep motivated on our family goals for the year.
    -Once a month shopping with one mid month shopping trip has been going great! I don’t know why I stopped!

    1. Hi Faith,
      I was wondering how you found out about the option to read the meter yourself? I’d never heard of this and would like to see if we could do this here.
      We don’t use the EMF meters either and are charged about $13 dollars not to have one. (This is even though FPL used tax-payer stimulus money to get the meters and then fired their meter readers. Great way to help raise unemployment!)

      1. I contacted our utility company to find out how to dispute and was told there will be an option within the next couple months!

    2. Faith, I’m seriously considering going to a twice a month shopping for my family. I would love to do a monthly with just that mid month mini stock up but my house mates (son and husband do not cooperate too well). Being at the grocery store a few times a week though shopping for others makes it “too easy” to just grab that oh I forgot item (and I a really am good with making do, it is the special requests that come via text that usually get me). It got really out of hand during the height of Covid when if I saw something (while doing an order for someone) I did need to grab it because I didn’t know when I would see it again. Perhaps your post is just the nudge I need.

      1. I shop twice a month – one big shop and one small one – most of the time and it does save money. I do it because I live in a rural area and the cost of gas is a significant part of shopping so I save that way, too. Give it a try. I bet your family will get on board if you stick with it. Best of luck!

  10. Hello Everyone!
    You and your family have been busy Brandy! Great find on the equipment and savings for the drill press. We finally bought some equipment lady year so that we could do home improvements ourselves. The savings increase with every project!

    Last week we traveled for 4 days. We stayed in hotels that had free breakfast, Wi-fi and parking. The rooms also had a microwave and mini refrigerator. We got stuck in the airport due to weather. I had some Starbucks gift cards that we used for warm drinks. I packed snacks for the airplane. I brought along a library book to read. Gas was $1 less expensive per gallon there! It’s currently $4.25 at Costco gas station here, up a few cents.

    We harvested carrots, radishes, lettuce, broccoli, kale, yellow pear tomatoes, oranges and lemons this week. The oranges came in handy as we ran out of fresh fruit and it helped delay a shopping trip.

    I sterilized my grow trays and plan to start spring seeding this week. We had another “all hands in” this weekend to spruce up the yard. We weeded and pruned until the green bin was full. We probably have another 2 weekends until the yard is cleaned up and dead bushes are replaced. It has saved us a lot of money as gardeners here start at $40/ hour.

    I baked bread and cake in the bread machine as my oven is awaiting back ordered parts for repair. I made soups and used the crockpot for dinners. It’s extremely inconvenient to plan meals around what’s on hand AND not having an oven. 👎🏼

    I sold my daughter’s old writing desk on Craigslist. We tried to find another use for it, but found it would be better off at another home. My son’s textbook from his community college class was resold to an online textbook company who offered us the highest price. This semester he was able to rent a textbook through Amazon.

    I mailed another late Christmas package to a family member using a box we had and a 40% off UPS coupon.

    Kaiser Permanente sent an email saying that purchased Covid tests could be reimbursed. I bought 2 extra during the surge when the testing sites were overrun and ran out of tests. I’m going to look into that reimbursement process. 🤞🏼

    Have a blessed, beautiful and warm week everyone!

    1. Hi Julie,
      Starting today Kaiser Permanente members can get two free covid rapid tests per member from the pharmacy. Unfortunately only members can get them and they may be out of stock quickly.

  11. I think it is great that you include your kids in saving money and let them know they did a good job by showing them the bill. I’m happy my son turns off lights for me.
    Because prices have increased so much we are being very careful to eat what we have and not waste. I conditioned my hair using coconut oil and a couple drops of essential oil. I think I used lavender this week. I am growing out my natural hair. My natural hair looks so much healthier. I look forward to cutting off the colored hair. But I will do it slowly, as my husband likes my hair long. I’m glad I am doing it now. The new growth is blending in pretty well. My husband colored my hair a couple months ago. I’ve been debating as to whether I should grow it out or not. I have a few white strands. It actually looks like I’ve frosted my hair a bit! My grandma had beautiful white hair. I hope that someday my hair will look like that. But now I am glad that it is changing slowly so that growing it out won’t look too drastic. It will give me time to cut off all the colored hair. I need to buy some hair cutting scissors. I had a pair when my boys were little. But I have no idea where they are now. I’m going to have my husband trim my hair every month or two. This will save us so much money! And I know that not coloring my hair will be healthier for me.
    I cooked a curried lentil dish with coconut milk and spinach yesterday. My family loved it! It made me happy and I felt good after eating it. I googled diabetic recipes and found the recipe on the Mayo Clinic site. I really need to do more of this, because it makes such a difference in the way I feel. Also, we are bringing emergency snacks with us for when we go places in case we need something to eat. It makes such a difference in our budget as well as my health. Although most carbs are cheap, I find after I eat them, I have to sleep. Choosing the right foods is huge for me. I keep protein snacks on hand. I’m still learning. Getting my health in order will save so much money in the long run. I hope to lose weight as well. I need to research more books and online sites and learn more about diabetes. I need to find what really works and isn’t too expensive to follow.
    Unfortunately we made biscuits and gravy this week. It is a cheap, tasty meal that doesn’t work for me. Other meals included chicken and veggies, salad with eggs, quiche and salad. Snacks included cottage cheese, apples, oranges and veggies. We also had sandwiches and bagels. I’m finding that protein and veggies are the way to go. Bread products are not.
    I returned a book to the library that I had out forever. I rechecked it twice and never finished it. It wasn’t as good as I originally thought it was when I started it. I do a lot of reading online. Enjoyed playing the piano for entertainment and relaxation. When I play the piano I decompress. I’m concentrating entirely on something I enjoy and it is wonderful!
    We turned off lights, paid bills on time, fixed my husbands truck so he can continue to drive it. I’m happy to have a vehicle again. We hope to get more use out of both our vehicles.

    1. I forgot a couple things. I have been using an electric blanket to keep warm instead of turning up the heat. I bought a present at a thrift store and the recipient loved it! It looked brand new. I cleaned it before I gave it. When I saw it I new it was the perfect present.

    2. Just an idea, but you might try lifeandhealth.org for information about coping with diabetes. A member of my family reversed his Type II diabetes and doesn’t need medication anymore using similar ideas.
      Best wishes . . .

      1. Elizabeth H.,
        I just started exploring LifeandHealth.org. What an interesting site! I will be exploring it more for not only recipes but so much more! Thank-you!
        Tammy

    3. I was able to reverse my prediabeties following the information in the “Mastering Diabetes” book. You can learn a lot from the website here:
      https://www.masteringdiabetes.org/
      The two authors also have a lot of free talks on YouTube. I lost 55 pounds, dropped my A1C and cholesterol, and feel better now at age 56 than I did when I was 26! I only wish I had learned about this way of eating years ago! But it is NOT a diet that you go on and then off—it is a complete change. If you go back to eating as before, your former health problems will return as well. I did it on my own, though they do offer a paid coaching program. I did have some expenses, though, as I literally had to replace everything in my wardrobe except my shoes and socks! It was slow, it took me about three years, and I have now kept this lifestyle up for about three years. I hike daily with my teen daughter, and feel SO good every day that I can hardly believe I used to feel so sick! I used to be addicted to refined sugar, but no longer. And I don’t miss it at all! It was hard to stop it initially, as I craved sugar for about two weeks. But now I fill up on lots of fruit and veggies and whole grains. I love my food, and my food loves me! I will not go back to my former way of eating for ANYTHING! I like feeling good too much!
      I am not a doctor, just sharing my personal experience.

      1. Susan M.
        Thank-you so much for sharing the information and sharing your story. I am going to check out that site and take a look at the book as soon as I can. Thank-you for the link. I will use it today. I look forward to feeling good again.

      2. Susan,
        I love that site masteringdiabetes.org! I’m already using recipes. We went shopping to buy some veggies, but changed our minds when the store we went into wanted 12 dollars for one butternut squash! So we will go shopping at another store that we know is cheaper in another town. But I had some veggies on hand and chickpeas as well as hummus and lentils. I always thought that I couldn’t eat so many fruits! I was pleased to see that they encourage it. I felt so good after eating fruit and spinach this morning with a bit a chia seeds and cinnamon! I know that buying fruit and veggies and certainly legumes are cheaper than paying for medical care from poor nutrition. Besides the added benefit of feeling good. I’m just glad there is another store or two that charges much less for veggies and fruit! I also like to get legumes from a local ethnic store.

        1. Tammy, this makes my ❤️ so happy! The Forks Over Knives website (and books) is another good resource, but I especially liked Mastering Diabetes because it specializes in focusing on diabetes. I just feel so much better now, that I want that for everyone! I have to be careful not to overshare, because everyone is on their own journey with their own specific circumstances, and I don’t want to come across as pushy! I purchase most of my veggies and fruit from Aldi’s. Also, don’t forget frozen. Frozen fruits and veggies are often a great price, and no waste as you can just take out the amount you are going to eat. During the Spring and Summer, when Aldi’s has things such as strawberries and blueberries on very good sales, I sometimes purchase several trays full and will freeze them myself. I do have a separate upright freezer. Another product that has helped make my produce last longer is the Rubbermaid produce boxes. They are not cheap, but I did my own tests and they honestly DO make produce last longer in the fridge!

    4. Tammy,
      Just hang in there with all the diabetic eating issues. I’ve learned over the years that it sometimes becomes very tedious to have to monitor my eating all the time. I want to encourage you to keep plugging away at it. It sounds like you have some good ideas of ways to keep it fresh, and if you keep finding what foods are your “friends” and which aren’t, you are well on your way to good health. I have found, like you, that taking my own food keeps me on the straight and narrow, as well as saves me tons of money. When I do rarely eat out, I often have to take an expensive choice, such as baked salmon with steamed veggies, or something like that rather than the cheap carb-laden choice, so I guess you could say I save double eating with my own food most of the time. For that rare occasion, though, it’s amazing to know there are lots of low-carb options out there these days, with the popularity of low-carb eating. Hang in there and keep up the good work!

      1. Becky,
        Thank-you so much for the encouragement! We rarely eat out. But when we do, if I want to feel good, it has to be a low-carb option. I try to choose something with lots of veggies, such as a salad, or Indian food, or mediterranean. Also, when I go to someones house, it is important that I bring something that I can eat, like a veggie tray to share or an emergency snack in my purse. I try to cut up the vegetables myself to save money. But we have been in a hurry before and I have bought a tray. I appreciate your encouragement.

  12. Bravo to your husband who is a smart shopper like most of the readers of this blog!
    1. My sister gave me 2 pr of lightweight pajama pants. They will be good for mild weather here in TX.
    2. I gave my sister a queen size electric blanket. The blanket is now on its third owner. I bought it from a nurse friend of mine 10 years ago. (I pondered maybe my sister was cold due to lightweight pajama pants.) The blanket was the Biddeford brand in case anyone is shopping for an electric blanket. I have had poor luck w/ Sunbeam brand electric blankets as they do not last more than 2 or 3 years. I found a new king size Biddeford electric blanket at Walmart (in Florida) for 25$. I feel sure it will last a long time like my 2nd hand one did.
    3. Took my cat to a low cost vaccination clinic for his annual shots.
    4. Took home 7 or 8 enormous rolls from a funeral reception. No one wanted them & they will be good w/ homemade soup I was making.
    5. Substituted for 6 hrs for a faculty member who was out sick w/ COVID.

  13. January was a frugal month to balance the spending on our trip in December. I cut back hard on groceries. My husband has brought home about 30 oranges from someone at work and we’ve been enjoying those. I made a vegan/gluten free orange upside-down cake that I think is my favorite cake of all time (it was a new recipe). I will make one for my daughter for her birthday coming up. I received free Meyer lemons at the community garden. I made Meyer lemon marmalade and took a small jar as a hostess gift when we had dinner at a friend’s house.
    I took down Roman blinds that I had made and reconfigured them to look and work better. I received interfacing from Buy Nothing, so I didn’t have to purchase anything for this project! I have several more sewing projects in the queue, as well as 2 paid projects. My own projects always take second place to the paid projects, so it’s been nice to power through the Roman blind project for own house (overall not a fun project, the large size makes it unwieldy to work with. But it will be so nice to have done). I also received Insul bright (thick heat reflective interfacing) and used it under a new ironing board cover that I sewed from hand-me-down fabric. I’ve needed a new ironing board cover for about 10 years!
    I took part in a market research study and was paid $225. Sold a few things on FB marketplace. I had listed an end table last week, after freshening up the paint on the top. It did not sell, so I took new pictures in which I “staged” the table with a basket and a plant. It sold the same day.
    Yesterday I researched 330 gallon water storage tanks and found one on craigslist for under half the price of others. We negotiated on the delivery fee ( we would have had to rent a truck to pick it up) and it is being delivered today for half of what the seller originally wanted for delivery, and exactly the same cost as renting a truck ourselves-saving us time and the cost of gas. So a win all around. We will put this under a downspout to collect even more rainwater. We now can collect almost 900 gallons of water from our roof. Since climate change scientists are predicting heavier rain, but less frequently, we wanted to be able to catch and store more from each rain event. It will carry us longer through the dry spells.

    1. Kara, the vegan/gluten free orange upside-down cake sounds wonderful. Would you mind sharing where you found the recipe? I did a search, but saw lots of recipes, and would love to go with a tried and true one if at all possible.

  14. I’m so excited to see your post this week. All wonderful things that you are doing!
    I went back into your old posts last week, Brandy, and found one on eating beans at every meal which gave me a boost of motivation and inspiration. I’m cooking a batch of black beans today for beans and rice tomorrow and some to put in the freezer.* For grocery pick up today, most of it was restocking the pantry. It always feels good to have things up to my level of comfort again. I bought a 3 pound chub of hamburger and will divide that up into eight portions for our meals. We have found that is enough for us. I’ve learned that 3# hamburger and one tray of chicken breasts divided up feeds us all month. Eating less meat has really helped our food budget. *We love football and I got the idea to make a fabric football flag banner (like I have for holidays) so I was able to buy some fabric for that using a 20% off coupon. I did pick up on that so avoided shipping. It will be fun to have for our little family Super Bowl party and I can use it for other big games in the future. *I’ve been feeling claustrophobic in my little office/sewing/craft room so I have been going through everything trying to purge and reorganize. I came up with two big bags of yarn that I had to admit to myself I probably won’t ever use. I’m going to donate them to the thrift store, but had my daughter who lives close by come and go through them first. She took home about 1/3 for her own projects which was nice. I organized all my yarn and fabric in some clear plastic totes that we had empty in the basement. I like being able to see everything and I’m so glad I could organize without spending any money. *I finished crocheting two baby afghans for my gift closet, as well as knitting one child’s hat for donation. *I continue to menu plan, shop from a list, cook most meals at home, read library books and watch shows. Life is pretty simple here and I’m very content. Hope everyone has a great week!!!

  15. Brandy, Im glad your husband found a tool he needed. They can be crazy expensive! My husband inherited his dad’s entire tool collection. He was a carpenter by trade and his tools were the best. But for one saw, everything is still working and my FIL would’ve been 108 this year to tell you how old they are! He retired in 1980!! Stuff was made to last back then! The drill press and miter box probably get used the most. Oh, and the scroll saw! He cuts shapes for me, most recently a set of 3 gnomes I painted for a Christmas gift.

    Ack! January is almost over! Before I know it, yard season will be going crazy! Due to our warm winter, we’ve had to hand water trees and shrubs to make sure they survive. This is only the 2nd time we’ve done that. Every time we do, it’s another $15 ish to the water bill. Cheaper than replacing trees tho!
    *Still doing 2 soups and 1 pasta per week. Last week was pintos and a ham bone, chili, and vegetable loaded chicken fried rice.
    *Got a $2 off coupon on produce from the market pharmacy and got over 3lbs. Of bananas for free!
    *Hubs worked a breakfast fundraiser and came home with about 30 pancakes, a big Ziploc of cooked sausage, and about 2 dozen biscuits! We like to have a real breakfast on the weekends and this will cover it for months!
    *Eggs were 97¢ for 18 at Dillons. We got 4.
    *I made bread and saved the bread crumbs from slicing in my freezer container.
    *Hubs fixed washer for $10 after trouble shooting on YouTube. That has saved us so much money! He also fixed the toilet. I turned it off after hearing it run. He used a coupon for the part and ended up saving $2 on the part and getting 3 $5 HVAC filters for free because they weren’t priced correctly.
    *Made laundry soap and a double batch of toilet bombs.
    *Did the normal stuff like hanging laundry, catching water, opening curtains on sunny days for free heat, etc.
    *Our electric and gas bill level plans have dropped $10 each. I suspect it’s this warm weather.
    I’m reading 3 borrowed books currently. Murder at The Washington Tribune by Margaret Truman. The 20th Victim by James Patterson. And Death’s Half Acre by Margaret Marin. My current faith book is Created to be his Helpmeet by Debi Pearl.

    I look forward to reading about everyone’s finish of January!

  16. It was a great, frugal week in Houston!
    My oldest son turned 9, and for his $100 budget birthday party, I ordered 6 Costco pizzas ($64; asked for plenty of free paper plates when we picked up), spent $25 on drinks, chips, and homemade cookie cake, used candles from an estate sale (.25), and I gave him a new-in-box gift from Goodwill Outlet (~$5), and also used thank you notes I picked up at GWOutlet (maybe $1?) which we will hand deliver. This allowed me to invite all the boys in his class and include their siblings, and they ran around the playground at a nearby park while the parents visited. My son brought some balls from home, and younger kids played on the playground. Thank goodness for a 67 degree sunny afternoon!
    Otherwise, it’s been more of the same.
    I filled trash cans with raked leaves instead of trash bags.
    I shopped loss leaders and grocery store markdowns, which have been pretty good around here, lately.
    Joining some friends at their ranch for the day, we took dessert. A daughter made peanut butter bars (like Reese’s), and I cut up a pound of strawberries ($1.67 at Kroger), took a marked down tub of Cool Whip (.49), and found an angel food cake at Kroger, which I asked them to mark down for me, and they did ($1.49).
    I went inside the Walmart gas station to pay cash for a gift card, which allowed me to save .03/gallon on gas. However, I think they’re discontinuing this soon.
    We took snacks to the Pinewood Derby race at church. Our troop is boys only, but my daughters got to participate as siblings.
    I found a great condition pair of school shoes for one son at Goodwill, on 75% off day. They were with the adult shoes, evidently overlooked. It’s hard for me to get tennis shoes to last longer than 1 or 2 kids, even though mine run barefooted a lot.
    I continue to list items for sale, slowly but surely. Cash in, junk out!
    A friend gave me a partial package of diapers that her daughter outgrew.
    I continue to teach online and work from home.
    We’re starting to eat down the frozen berries, as I know they will be ripe again in a few months. Lots of brambles grow wild in vacant lots, and they make a delicious cobbler!
    King Arthur organic flour 2# bags were marked down to .50/each, short dated, which I realized is slightly less than my Aldi. So, I bought a bunch for the freezer. I used to pay .20/# or less, but .25/# isn’t too bad with the price increases.
    I haven’t run the heat or AC in quite a while; it’s currently 65 in the house, so comfortable (for me).
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  17. My mom sent over lunch ables, garlic bread, snack cakes, powdered milk, bread, nutri grain bars, and chips

    Our old stove was never picked up so hubby took it to the scrap yard and received almost $10 for it

    The teen made up muffins from one of my Christmas clearance mixes

    Received for free Sweet Magnolia Feels like Family from Starbucks as a book download

    Used McDonald’s reward points for free chicken nuggets

    School has been closed nearly two weeks because of covid, so I used the extra time to clean and declutter the house.

  18. I bought two five-pound bags of small russet potatoes for $1.50 each so ten pounds for $3.00. This is an unprecedented
    low price. While they are smaller, they are perfect for me. And of course ten pounds of small potatoes is the same amount as ten pounds of large potatoes. “I” was good enough to include me in her grocery expedition to the wholesale grocery store so I’ll let her write about her discoveries there. Let’s just say I’m several squashes ahead.

    The part for my camera was delivered by the seller to me outside as it was mild. I sent him an e transfer while he waited to receive it which he did in a couple of moments. It is in beautiful condition at a fraction of the cost. I’m looking forward to finishing the book, cleaning house, and taking photos in the spring and summer.

    I am also looking forward to seeing all of the crocuses that I bought on sale last fall blooming in the spring.

    Work continues on the book. Almost finished.

    1. As Ann said I did have another successful foray out to the wholesale produce market. I got a case of Anjou pears for.40 per lb( vs 2.99 lb at Safeway) and acorn and butternut squash( Ann’s request) for .99 lb vs 2.49 at Safeway. Other bargains were 3 lbs of sweet onions for $1, green beans .99 per lb and small yellow potatoes 5 lbs for $2.00-not as cheap as Ann but I am not a big fan of russets.

      We have been sharing pears with friends and family. One thing I learned with my 40 lb case of bananas purchase is it said to store them at 60-65 F so I put them in the basement. After 12 days I just brought up the last bunch and they are not over ripe which surprised me. This may help others if you spot a good deal on bananas and have a cooler place to store some.

      Today I did my Mum’s shopping at my local grocer and delivered them with a bowl of homemade soup which she appreciated-she is nearing 90 and has suffered with sciatica since Xmas which makes cooking and standing difficult. She is finally improving with some rest and medication.

      I told the 2.5 year old triplet boys I care for they could come for a sleepover once they were potty trained-2 sleepovers down, one to go. The weather has suddenly turned bitterly cold and windy after a lovely week-so I have some porcupine meatballs in the oven. I have not had them in years. My husband works outside so I had hot coffee and soup ready when he came home for lunch-he usually fends for himself but I nearly froze just checking the mail.

      I have been watching some you tube videos lately on budget shopping and food bank hauls-very interesting to see what people receive and how people can stretch a dollar-sure wish I had an Aldi or Lidl near me.

      Dear daughter called the other day and asked if I had any ideas for budget meals/shopping-so I gave her plenty. Now that she has just finished uni Bank of Mum and Dad does not automatically help out with things like rent and food. She has not been getting many work hrs but hopefully her previously PT job will become FT or she can find another position. Anyway we all have to learn the hard way how to make better choices when it comes to shopping, cooking and avoiding takeout to balance our budget. She was aware of an up to $300 per week govt benefit she can apply to for people whose hrs have been reduced due to the pandemic so she was going to do that today. So we are mostly sitting back waiting to see how her work situation will pan out.

        1. I’m surprised you haven’t heard that before. There have been t-shirts out for years with that saying on it. My 49 year old son decided he would quit his job some months back and start his own business. He had the skills, he had the intelligence, he had no safety net. There was no way this was going to work, but there was no talking him out of it. Results, colossal fail, and repo of vehicle. Bank of Mom and Dad had to step in with aid, stern words and a repayment schedule. Sigh.

          1. I really haven’t! My parents helped me with tuition (my total tuition was about $10,000 for all 5 years, because of the schools I attended) and books, but I had to work and pay for my own housing, food, clothing, etc. The minimum wage was $4.25 an hour.

      1. Hi “I”,
        The reason I love russets, of course, is that I can put them in the oven and forget them since my oven has a timer.
        I thought you got a great price on green beans! The lucky triplets – I assume you are having them one at a time.

    2. Oops Brandy I forgot to add that your garden is looking lovely-if I recall correctly you have been redoing it for the past year or so-a huge project that is really starting to come together and produce for you. Oh and great buy on the canned tomatoes-what a great price. I predict that once the children move out one by one those living close by will appreciate garden care packages whenever they stop by as you will have fewer to feed at home-but not for awhile.

      1. I imagine we will share with my parents next door more as my children move out, and perhaps others, if it gets to be too much for us. I now have 5 peach trees, so I will probably can enough peaches for us to eat all year!

        Seeing as my youngest is only 3, though, that’s a long way away! I will probably have to replace a few trees by then, as peaches only live 8 to 10 years here.

  19. Hi Brandy and everyone
    What a great saving on the tool your husband needed, sometimes when you miss buying something there’s a better deal just waiting for you. Great news on the gas bill too!
    My husband set out our seed potatoes to chit. He bought some bearded iris mail order, they are unusually supposed to flower twice a year and he’s planted them in the cutting garden.
    While we were ill with Covid we drank my homemade elderberry cordial to boost vitamin C. We picked kale, leeks and parsnips from the garden and while self isolating ate stored shallots, garlic, bottled fruit and tomatoes, frozen veg and fruit, pickled beetroot, pickles and apple jelly. We had plenty of eggs and meat in the freezer.
    I brought a pot of dwarf narcissi into the house so we could enjoy them.
    We had already bought Seville oranges and made marmalade, probably just about enough to last my husband all year.
    I finished my cross stitch and made it the front panel on a cushion, using a small cushion and fabric bought ages ago in a charity shop.
    We used a portable pump to put air in my car tyres, it isn’t expensive to use the air pump at a garage but it’s free at home, we bought the pump a long time ago.
    It was my birthday and I received two beautiful bouquets of flowers.
    I cooked once and we ate three times from the casserole. I made chicken stock from a carcass.
    I had a little bit of dried lavender left and used some fabric scraps and ribbon to make two more lavender bags.
    We are lighting the log fire earlier in the afternoon so the heating doesn’t come on. Wood is much cheaper than heating oil.
    We discussed putting a wardrobe in a guest bedroom but decided it wasn’t necessary really and my husband put up a shelf with several coat hooks and I put some pretty coat hangers on the hooks. Guests can hang up a couple of dresses, suit, coat etc and we didn’t spend lots of money or clutter up the room.
    Stay safe everyone.

  20. You have been very busy! I am always inspired by your posts. Thank you for the book recommends, as well.
    I went out of town for half the first week and took food with me for lunches and dinners (breakfasts were provided.) Before I left I spent several hours putting together meals – I made enough to package meals for me, meals for my husband while I was away, and meals in the freezer for when I return. I knew I would be busy after I returned home and it was great having meals ready to pop into the oven.
    I mixed up a big batch of homemade laundry detergent.
    I made homemade sandwich bread and yogurt.
    The following week I canned 4 pints of stew beef and 2 pints of steak strips from meat in my freezer, to have on hand for quick meals. I also made 3 half-pints of rhubarb barbecue sauce after I unearthed a package of rhubarb from the freezer.
    We made it through 4 weeks of eating from our pantry/freezer. I was going to wait until after Feb. 1 to shop, but I realized this week I had a bunch of coupons for items on my shopping list that expired Jan. 29. City Market (Kroger affiliate) sent me a digital coupon for $20 off an $80 purchase, and they mailed a paper coupon for $6 off a $60 purchase, plus coupons for frozen vegetables, fresh produce, vitamins, and other items on my list. So we shopped Friday and I saved $35. These were all store coupons, not manufacturer’s coupons. I saved another $5 off of $10 at the Safeway nearby. I spent just under $90 and the groceries should last us two to three weeks. We are still eating largely from the pantry, but were out of fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy, and running low on some other items. I also stopped by the local Mennonite store and bought a 25 lb bag of all-purpose flour to replace the one from storage that I just opened.

    1. Brandy: we all need to see a copy of your vitamin list! You and your husband have the energy of ten people! Cannot wait to see the garden when it is finished!

      The weather here has been very cold for the past few weeks. I am dreading our power bill which will come shortly. May have to start a Go Fund Me page! 😊 Last month was shocking!

      Chicken and crackers are still in short supply in East TN. Also Olive Oil.

      I have ordered seeds. Have received my first order, but the second has been delayed for three weeks. Many seeds weren’t available. Wish you could plant chicken seeds!

      My husband has been trying to purchase a company car(SUV) for several months. Talk about shortages! He usually drives a police car as his company does work for law enforcement, Homeland Security, etc. No police cars to be had. Same for civilian SUV’S. Unbelievable! There are thousands of cars/SUVs sitting in compounds that can’t be sold due to missing computer chips. So, wonder what will happen to these 2-3 year old cars when those chips finally arrive? Will they have a fire sale? Strange times!

      Everyone stay frosty out there!

      1. CherylB, I heard the same thing about lots of new cars parked in off dealer lots waiting for computer chips. We are hoping car prices drop when all those cars get their chips and show up on dealer lots! I saw photos of a large race track here in the US that was completely filled with 6,000 new cars waiting for chips!

    2. We returned from vacation a week ago and I threw together some spaghetti with spaghetti squash and noddles for dinner with extended family. Made chili with leftover spaghetti sauce and cornbread muffins. We also had pulled pork from the freezer and mulberry oat bars. I made roast chicken from the freezer, followed by chicken and dumplings, with homemade bone broth. I’ve been overwintering herbs in our heated sun porch so I still have fresh rosemary and parsley.
      Sold a few items on eBay and marketplace.
      We cleaned up our basement to create a dedicated work out space. With little kids, it’s easier to workout at home than go to the gym. I’m researching treadmill options. We bought a used weight bench off marketplace. We do free exercise classes online from a local gym.
      We shoveled our driveway for exercise instead of paying to have it plowed. Also chopped some wood. Our fireplace is functional but doesn’t produce much heat. We’re debating options to have a blower and/or small cooktop insert but they’re quite expensive, and probably won’t cover their cost in gas savings, but it would give us a backup heat source.
      Using Duolingo to work on my Spanish. I’ve enjoyed a few used books off eBay and some ebooks from our library. Also having our employees use a new free app to streamline paychecks.
      Home Depot had extra 15% off clearance last weekend so we bought tons of items to use in our rental houses, like lights and nails.
      Our local museum just created a kids museum. We went for the first time and were pleasantly surprised. We’re planning on buying a membership so we can go more often, as it’s a perfect activity during our cold winters to get out of the house, plus it supports a great local organization.

      1. If you live in the US, the government is offering a tax credit for fireplace inserts. This year it is 26%. Credit amount will decrease in 2023.

  21. Brandy it is so nice to see your flowers. We got 2 feet of snow this weekend. Hubby used our snow blower that he was given years ago for free (used) from his boss. It cost him under a $100 to fix. Hubby plowed our driveway, a single lady’s across the street and a single mom down the block that we are friends with. My son cleared off all of the cars and shoveled their front stoops. They were both very grateful. The lady across the street sent us an Edible Arrangement of fruit, mini cheesecakes, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered Oreos and chocolate chip cookies. It was very nice of her.
    Before the storm I have been garbage picking with great success. I got 6 cases of old Ball jars with several boxes of rings and lids. I have spoken to the homeowner several times (he has been cleaning out his house the last month). He told me that several of the other bags and boxes had some home canned goods as well as unopened food. As I was on my way to work, I just threw everything into my car. That night after dinner the kids and I went through it all. We dumped the home canned goods but kept the jars and rings. They all went into the dishwasher. There were another 15 jars. We also keep 7 jars of recently (2021) expired peanut butter, 4 Costco sized containers of expired coffee(2020). They are going to my mom. A new box of foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap, 3 containers of Bay leaves, 6 Costco size containers of spices, 5 containers of salad dressing, 3 bottles of champagne, and a set of canasters. What a blessing !
    My youngest and I have been rearranging the pantry trying to make room for everything. My son put the jars on my chest freezer which will not work.
    I offered some of the jars to my oldest so next time we drive to visit her, I will bring 3 cases.
    I cooked my last turkey I got for 49¢ at Thanksgiving. Hubby sliced the breasts really thin so that is for sandwiches for lunch this week. I cooked the bones for stock. Last week I cooked a chicken. We had it for dinner 2 nights and then I cooked the bones. I made 3 quarts of chicken rice soup. I cooked my last pumpkin. Some went into the freezer, some went into the dogs food for the week and some got made into muffins that we shared. I made cupcakes too(before the storm).
    The lady I helped treated me to lunch twice in the last 2 weeks. I cooked us lunch the other days.
    My friend gave Hubby and I a gift card to our favorite restaurant for helping her clean out her dad’s house. Hubby’s birthday is coming up so I think we will use it for that.
    We got Chinese one night 2 weeks ago otherwise we ate everything from home. Hubby did bring some leftover pizza home from work.
    Bread prices have gone up and the kind we like has been hard to get. I have been making 2 doughs in the bread machine and cooking them in the oven the last few weeks. My son said that I don’t need to buy store bought bread again.
    The puppy had an accident on her bed one night. I took the cover off and washed it. While I was in the shower, Charlotte decide to rip open the inner part of her bed. I stuffed it back up and ducked tapped it back together. With the cover on no one can tell. Charlotte and I had a talk but I don’t think she got the message.
    My youngest helped our friends out a few days with their dog. The husband had to go to Florida for the week for work. They have an elderly dog that needs to go out mid day. My friend works 1/2 an hour away from her house. So my daughter went over to let him out. My girlfriend tried to pay her but she wouldn’t take the money.
    The heat is still set to 65 degrees even though I did catch Hubby up it one day to 67. I kept my mouth shut. I wear a sweater around the house and blankets are in every room easy to grab. I have been hanging most of our clothes on drying racks. Lights are only on if someone is in the room. All scraps go into a covered bowl by the kitchen sink and it gets dumped into the compost bin every morning. I cut open a lotion container and a toothpaste tube. I cut up a few paper bags to use for fried foods. I washed several baggies and 1 cereal bag that I will use when I make burgers. I cut up 3 worn out towels to use as rags.
    We put $1306 extra to our mortgage this month.
    Have a wonderful week everyone.

        1. I check his website occasionally – I’m always surprised at how much jewelry people in Montreal throw out!

  22. Brandy, your husband and mine are cut from the same cloth. I could tell many stories where his research has saved us so much money. I really value his tenacity when finding the best price for items as well as figuring out how he can barter/trade with a neighbor or just borrow something he needs infrequently. It takes patience and perseverance and I am so grateful he has an abundant amount of both in most cases. Your garden just gets more beautiful as time goes on. Thank you for sharing its progress.
    I took advantage of the Land’s End sale and bought 2 waterproof winter jackets in the next two sizes my oldest son will wear. He was just about too big for the one he was currently wearing so that one went to little brother and he got the next size. Now, for less than one jacket would have cost, he will have another to wear in a year or two and his younger brother should have his jacket needs met for possibly 3 years. These particular jackets also have extra length in the cuffs and the overall length so I can let them out for even more wear as they grow. Rare to find good quality and good sales together but LE seems to be continuing this tradition. I hope they don’t stop!
    Like many here, I ordered the 4 COVID tests through the USPS and ordered some for elderly neighbor who do not use the internet.
    I received a bag of canned food and pasta from a neighbor who had some things she was given but will not use. It is fun to make meals from these gifts and think how little it cost overall since many of the components were free.
    My children need to see an opth0malagist for the first time. A new practice moved into the town where we do much of our shopping. I discovered they are in the Plus program with our vision insurance which means there will be no co-pay. The practice where my husband and I typically go accepts our insurance but we have always had a co-pay so we will make the change, as well. This was a pleasant part of a job I dislike – arranging doctor visits.
    I made a real effort to plan meals and make food out of the pantry and freezer during January. It resulted in a 25% lower grocery bill than normal. I am encouraged to continue as prices increase.
    On the book front, I read “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah and loved it as it seems everyone does. I have read so many books (fiction and non-fiction) about WWII and learn something new or gain a new perspective with each one and this was no different. I also read “How To Stop Time” by Matt Haig. This is the second book of his and I loved it. He has a unique way of looking at the world and asks big questions. His stories bring up many things I have thought of myself and I enjoy where the stories end up going. Definitely books you can lose yourself in for a while. As always, I am so grateful for my little rural library branch where the librarians (all 2 of them) know my name and suggest other books I may enjoy and often walk my books out to me even when I do not ask. Libraries are definitely one of the greatest inventions of all time, in my opinion.
    I wish all of you well and give thanks for the regular encouragement and inspiration. Stay warm and cozy!

  23. I am counting down the minutes until the county nurse shows up with mom’s Pfizer booster (the reason for her visit), my Moderna booster and my flu shot. We have been waiting two months for this. They’ll be $0 out of pocket. And Wednesday/Thursday looks like there will be a lot of snow by Southeast Michigan standards so I doubt the county nurse will be making house calls those days.
    I almost gave $70+ of Instacarted groceries to a neighbor yesterday by accident. I use the Instacart website instead of the app and sometimes it is very slow. I had edited my sister’s directions in Arizona and then tried three times to select my address using a radio button but I could not get off the page. So I clicked the arrow that said use current address not noticing it was two doors to the east. I was distracted and placed my order. The groceries were delivered to the wrong door. Panic. I thought at first the photo was of the neighbor’s door to the west so I texted her. Then I realised it was to the east and called the next door neighbor and left a message asking for their next door neighbor’s name and phone number. I got in touch with Instacart who got in touch with the shopper who went to the house to retrieve the groceries but they were already inside and nobody answered her knocks. I found a phone number online for that house and left a message. Then I called back Instacart and while I was on the phone I heard a knock on my door. The immediate neighbor to the east had half my groceries and was going back to get the other half too. I was very thankful because I have a bad hip and was not looking forward to crossing three one-acre lots in the snow to ask for my groceries back. I increased my tip by $5 for the Instacarter because it was my inattention (and Instacart’s slow server) that caused her wasted time. I am missing three fancy ice cream bars so whether we’ll find them in the spring in one of the yards or the shopper finds them in her car, I don’t know. Moral of the story: Be very sure of where you are asking a delivery to be!

  24. Brandy,
    The very best thing that happened to me to save money was that when I went to pick up my normal monthly prescription the pharmacist asked if I had insurance and I said yes and then asked to see the card and did something on the computer for a while and came back and said my normal $20 + monthly subscription would now be $1.73!!! That is less than 10 percent of the original cost and this is a life long maintenance med for me so even if this deal only last a few years I will be thrilled!!! It is now my allergy season so I have dry, itchy eyes a lot. My preservative free eye drops are really expensive but I got a very good deal with discounts so I got a month supply for $7 which is much cheaper than normal.
    My daughter’s dryer broke. She asked to borrow my wonderful Amish made drying rack which can easily hold 2 loads of laundry. She has been air drying for over a month now and told me recently that she isn’t planning to purchase a dryer anytime soon. Air drying even with her 9 yr old son isn’t that much trouble. She pointed out it is better for the clothes and will save money on her electric bill. I am so happy she is learning to live smartly.

    1. A big plus for some of us is that air drying clothes adds moisture to the house. In the winter the air gets so dry from having to heat as much as we do in the cold climates.

      1. Yes! I want one of those Amish made racks. Before I order it, I want to see if our local Amish make one like it and save postage. Gotta make some phone calls around Yoder to the English and see if they can hook me up. I use the small racks now but they’re pretty wobbly when loaded.

  25. I worked an extra 2.5 hours on this coming paycheck, which isn’t a lot, as it was on a week where I had to take a sick day to test for Covid, so it will not be overtime, but just extra pay, but every little bit adds up. I received my check for working the polls for the extra election – because it was for a school levy, the school board paid us an extra $150! That was a lovely surprise. I bought 2 packs of 2 home Covid tests, which my insurance will reimburse me for the cost. My husband had it, but I did not. I bought some baby items for my nephew’s soon-to-be-born baby; I found some beautiful items on clearance on Old Navy; they apparently considered them Christmasy so they were deeply discounted. I always make it a policy to buy outfits in larger sizes so parents have new outfits for awhile, so I just bought wintry outfits in different sizes to take advantage of the sale prices. We were not able to attend the baby shower as it is about 3 hours away, and my niece did not feel comfortable driving there with the snow we have had. While my husband was home quarantining, he cooked almost every meal at home, which was nice and frugal! We either ate the leftovers ourselves or shared them with our son. I have also sent off for $22.50 in rebates – beer companies put out No Beer Purchase Required rebates in some states for things like meat, salty snacks, ice, etc. These are a great way for me to stretch my dollar – all that I earn this way goes directly into my Christmas Club. We don’t drink alcohol so any that requires an alcohol purchase is not for us. We also are done paying my mom back a loan that she gave us; I am so excited for the wriggle room not having that payment will give us!

  26. Lovely photos as always Brandy! Your productivity and money-saving prowess never cease to amaze me. Just wow!

    I don’t have time to read all of the comments at the moment, but I do have a question that I’m sure everyone here will be able to help out with. My son will be heading off to college this fall. (Yay for him, and boo-hoo for us; he’s our only kiddo.) He will be far enough away that he will have to live on campus, but we’re not yet sure whether it will be in a dorm or apartment-style setting. So my question is: What do we need to get him in terms of supplies (linens, laundry detergent, first aid kit/supplies, and … what else?), and what are your suggestions for sourcing them at rock-bottom prices? It’s been almost 35 years since I lived on campus (and Hubs commuted so never lived on a college campus), and I don’t remember what all I needed. ;}

    Thanks in advance!

    1. My children moved into apartments with roommates. I bought items at garage sales, thrift stores, Walmart, Ikea, and Home Goods. I gave them items we no longer needed but that they did, as did my mom. What he needs will definitely depend on where he lives. My children lived in furnished apartments and most included an ironing board, but they needed their own iron. We chose places that had washers and dryers in the building and sometimes in the apartment. They needed all of their own kitchen supplies; I chose place settings for four, so they could have guests if they want, but also so that if they hadn’t run the dishwasher, they would still have enough clean plates for four meals in a row.

    2. One of the best presents I got for graduation was a small tool box with basic tools – hammer, screwdriver, etc. Maybe not the most exciting gift for some but I was thrilled and still have some of those tools. It came in handy when small repairs were needed in my apartment and I could hang pictures and art making my first on-my-own space feel like home. Otherwise, my parents and I bought things at thrift stores and tag sales.

      1. Yes! I got 2 tool kits that I used constantly. The fix it tools and the office supplies tool box. It had staplers, clips, #2 pencils, typewriter (!!!!) correction fluid, tape, tacks, and all those little things that are forgettable but necessary. Even duct tape! Nowadays it might be a couple of flash drives or stuff like that. My grandma gave me McDonald’s GCs and that was a nice treat on e in awhile. Nowadays, a GC to Walgreens would also be great.

        So much has changed since I was in the dorms but some things remain highly valuable….an extra pack of toilet paper is one of them. We had no janitor to refill tp, paper towels, or seat covers over the weekend. After suffering through plugged toilets for a couple of weekends (some would use paper towels), I asked our janitor for a spare key to the supply closet and I took about 10 minutes per weekend to refill everything. A couple of the girls had the “I’d never do that” attitude but most were thrilled, including the janitor who had a much easier time on Monday with no real messes. I had the arrangement the whole time I was there. One set of roommates even gave me flowers for my side “job.”

    3. If your child is living in a more traditional dorm style accommodation here are some things they’ll need:
      a bathrobe and a tote of some kind (Target and Walmart both have mesh ones that are fabulous!) for heading down the hall to the shower and toilet
      long-length sheets and other bedding
      bath towels etc.
      a few hand towels if there’s a sink in the room (most have that)
      clothes hangers and potentially a small chest of drawers or other drawer-type containers (stacking drawers, under bed boxes, etc)
      hamper/laundry basket/bag, laundry detergent, etc.
      potentially a coffee pot/tea kettle, toaster, microwave.
      Many dorms rent microwaves and mini-refrigerators for the semester or year for a nominal fee or a deposit (at the University I teach at it’s a $40 deposit and $30 is returned when you return the microwave or $75 for the fridge with $60 returned).
      Basic dishes, silverware and drinking cups.
      Water bottle/travel mug (or 2!)
      Basic office supplies – pens, pencils, highlighters, tape, three-hole-punch, stapler and staples, paper clips, correction tape, etc.

      Usually roommates arrange with each other on the larger items – microwave, fridge, tea kettle etc. Garage sales and thrift stores are great for many items and back to school sales usually include items like laundry baskets, dorm bedding (single bed sheets, blankets, etc.). I got a really funny snail-shaped tape dispenser at a thrift store that I still use 20+ years later at a thrift store and my daughter just found a strawberry-shaped one that she just loves!

      We’re heading toward this stage too – we have about 1 1/2 years until ours move to university. It’s exciting!
      Lea

    4. I have one in college now. A few more ideas for living on campus: flip flops if they share a shower, a shower caddy and an area rug. The floors are hard and cold and it’s nice to step onto after getting out of bed.

    5. See what the college recommends for furnishing a residence hall room, or a mini-apartment room if the campus has those. They are likely to have a list on their website or in information they send you.
      If furniture is provided, students might not be allowed to take it out, as the school wouldn’t have storage space if everyone put in their own stuff. The school might provide appliance rental or approved bunk-bed rental, as Lea mentioned.
      In particular, check for what is NOT allowed on campus– Aside from what might be obvious, like firearms, weapons, and alcohol, the school I worked at had some very strict rules regarding things that could catch on fire: No candles, (not even unlit ones for decoration), no open-heating element appliances, (crock pots, toasters, etc.). I suspect insurance drove a lot of it, as one of the residence halls had had a fire some years before.
      Residence hall furnishings can make good birthday, holiday, and graduation gifts, and you might encourage relatives to think in those terms. Women’s rooms are much more likely to be decorated and coordinated than men’s.

    6. Forgot to add– I saw some parents very smartly go shopping for residence hall supplies at the local WalMart when they came for a summer visit. They put everything on layaway. When they moved their child in in the fall, they just had to pick it up from the store.
      So even if you only do this for things like detergent or hygiene or snack foods, you might find a WalMart/Target/etc. store in the college town and place an online order from home to pick up when you are there, thus saving you the packing and hauling fuss.

        1. Thanks everyone! I knew that Brandy and the readers here would have great suggestions. Now I’m off to make a list! 😉

          1. I would also suggest a basic printer (we found one with a scanning option as well), paper and ink. I know a lot of stuff is done online these days, but it helps to print out articles or papers sometimes. Running to the library and feeding the coin machine there can be a pain, especially at night,

              1. If your son’s school has a Facebook page for parents, you should join it. The seasoned parents on there will be a wealth of information about what is needed and what is not. It really can be so school specific. For example, at my daughter’s school, almost all of the parents were in agreement that a printer was unnecessary, as the school had printers in multiple places throughout the school and printing was free. We found that to be completely true! In her first year, my daughter was in a suite with a bathroom for just her and one other girl, so she didn’t need a bathroom caddy, but she did need a shower curtain, bath mat, etc. Most schools use twin x-long mattresses, but double check to make sure. We got ours at Walmart, as they were pretty cheap there. A mattress topper was a must-buy as the dorm mattresses are not comfortable. The twin x-longs sell out close to school starting, so it is wise to buy early (although if you are too early they may not have a good selection). In early summer the stores should come out with all of their dorm and back-to-school items. Again, we found Walmart to be the best place for a nice thick mattress topper. Our daughter’s school does not rent refrigerators, and we went with a good one with the separate freezer door. It was worth paying the extra money, as her school did not require a meal plan and she was able to store more food that way. Although we didn’t do this, I have heard that if you live near a college that you should go over there when their school lets out as many students just stack their giveaways near the dumpsters. That would not surprise me! We found that we had a pretty large outlay for supplies the first year, we hardly bought anything for the second year. Good luck!

  27. Brandy, great to see your updated blog, I kept checking each day to see if you had posted 🙂 Clearly I have a lot of time on my hands LOL. This month I was doing Frugalwoods challenge but last week decided to do a top up of my pantry and freezer so that I could get food at current prices and save some money from restocking in the spring. My husband and I just did a Winco and Sams Club trip so we are done! Interestingly, we didn’t notice any empty shelves at Winco and the prices were good, as always. For anyone who shops at Sams Club here in the US, when I went online to see if the stores had what I wanted in stock, I noticed quite a few items that were available for shipping, but not available in store. And three items (TP, Paper Towels and Paper Napkins) offered free or very minimal cost shipping…for those three items, total shipping charges were less than $2.00. So that is what I did. When I went through our local Kroger store, I was appalled at many of prices and decided to shift my shopping to Winco and go less often. We have been working on using less electricity, and happily our bill (we use average monthly billing) dropped 10% for the next quarter. In addition, I have changed my water sprinkling and laundry habits and our water usage is down 40% this fall and winter. All it takes is a bit of focus and it really helps! By the way, for anyone who can get YouTube, we have really enjoyed watching episodes of the TV series Mayday (airline disasters) and Mentour Pilot (pilot who explains how planes work and why crashes happened). Really interesting and free!

  28. Keeping my fingers crossed that your rose root grows! Nice deal on the drill press, too.

    I finished decluttering! Didn’t get rid of as much stuff as I expected, but I’m happy with the result. I donated about 8 boxes of stuff and doubled the usual amount of trash and recycling for 4 weeks. The big accomplishment, besides a mountain of paper, was going through all of the drugs and other healthcare items, throwing away the expired stuff, consolidating packaging and organizing it all in the available space. We have a ton of this stuff because of ongoing issues with my husband’s amputee stump. Every trip to the wound clinic results in more stuff…which we appreciate, but it’s more to store. Like a whole drawer full! In addition, I went through my clothes–not a big job because my wardrobe is lean and mean–and finished the dining and guest rooms.

    We installed an additional shelf in 3 closets, which helped a lot with the organizing. It gave us an additional 13 linear feet of storage. We used prefinished white shelving and basic white L brackets.

    Our TV and washer have been giving us fits. The washer is only 3-1/2 y o and the TV came from our former vacation home, where it hadn’t been used much. The jury is still out on the washer, but I’ve reset it a couple of times and we are limping along (wait and see). The sound on the TV went garbled and we couldn’t change HDMI plugs because we were using the only one that still worked. My husband did not immediately reset it, although I thought he did. We looked at TVs and a comparable set would be around $500-$700…although he would probably want something with more bells and whistles (that we wouldn’t even know how to use, LOL). I reminded him again about the reset (only involves unplugging the TV from the wall for 60 seconds), he did it, and guess what–ALL of the HDMI slots now work!

    I used my United Healthcare OTC debit card at Rite-Aid for $22.77 worth of OTC products. I wasn’t sure it would work at Rite-Aid (Walgreens and CVS are shown on the card), but it did!

    I made a jar of dry breadcrumbs in the blender.

    Fox Business News network reports that the intermountain states have an inflation rate of over 8%–the highest in the nation. In Idaho, where I live, it’s 8.6%. This isn’t going to make a huge difference in my lifestyle, but there are plenty of folks that are suffering where I live.

    1. Does your washer have an inside filter? Every time my washer acts up, we have to open it up and clean the filter. It seems to need to be done twice a year. They make it very hard to change them; I think this is something that could be improved in the design! Once it is changed, it works fine again! We learned this after having a repairman out for it once. Now we just take care of it each time. A sign that it is time to change it for me is that the clothes aren’t coming out as dry as before.

      1. How do you “open it up” to get to the filter? I’m wondering where the filter is on ours. It’s a new High Efficiency top loader with NO agitator.

        1. Mine is a front loader. It has to have the front lower panel taken off with those special screwdrivers (the star-shaped ones). We have found it helpful to have towels ready to go under it, as when we open the filter, water always comes out. I would check your model on YouTube.

      2. Not that I know of, Brandy. It’s a HE top loader. It is either the motherboard or transmission. Since resetting gets it going again, I’m inclined to think it is the motherboard.

        I think you will all get a kick out of how to reset this machine (learned this on the internet). Unplug the washer. Open and close the lid 6 times in 12 seconds. Plug in the machine and pray! The first time I did it, I washed 2 loads and it quit again. I have washed about 20 loads on the second reset.

  29. I love that you are teaching your kids to be mindful of resources! Showing them the difference their actions make is much more likely to make the lesson stick!

    My frugal accomplishments:
    I pulled out some muffins from the freezer for a quick breakfast (http://approachingfood.com/healthy-carrot-muffins-with-blood-orange-marmalade-filling/), and made smoothies with leftover cranberry sauce as a sweetener.
    – I put sliced cucumber in pickle brine to make new pickles
    – I made banana, egg, and oatmeal pancakes, and froze the leftovers for future quick meals.
    – I plumped up some limp carrots by placing them in ice water.
    – I made my weekly chocolate cake for snacks and desserts. I never get tired of it, and it keeps well (actually improves) for an entire week. So much cheaper than buying desserts!
    – I made my weekly pizza dough. I ended up giving it to my sister as a thank you for some childcare. An inexpensive thank you! The following week I made and froze two pizzas for my husband to pop into the oven for quick meals. Much cheaper than purchasing frozen pizza!
    – I redeemed SB for $20 to my paypal account, and used some of the monies in there to buy a particular book for my daughter.
    – I sent away for coupons for my mother for products that she uses
    – my mother picked up some items from Shoppers Drug Mart for me using her senior’s discount.
    – I made green onion and cheddar baking soda biscuits for a quick lunch side
    – another inexpensive lunch was egg salad. Eggs are easy to feed both my kids nutritiously and frugally.
    – I borrowed lots of ebooks and paperbooks from the library, for both my daughter and I.
    – I made a bacon, corn, and potato chowder, which served for several meals for my husband as well as my sister when she came over to help out.
    – my daughter enjoyed a YouTube channel called Cosmic Yoga, which is yoga for toddlers. Free, healthy, and she kept asking to “do more exercise!”
    – using the FlashFood app, I spent $8 and got a fancy cheese dish, a bag of fancy crackers, a bag of cheese buns, a loaf of sourdough bread, and a bag of mini blueberry bagels. The crackers and cheese were used for a date night/anniversary celebration, the cheese buns were popped into the freezer for a quick lunch one day. The bread I turned into a ham and spinach strata, and the bagels were frozen to be toasted with cream cheese as snacks for my toddler.
    – I redeemed points from Leo (legeropinion.com) for $20 to my paypal account.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

    1. Well, I hope it works! They said they took shorter showers because they didn’t want to be cold; I don’t know if it will work as well in summer! I am still in shock that our bills have been lower than the summer bills with the rate increase.

        1. We’ve run the numbers with people who sell solar, and so far, it’s not going to save us any money. We have some of the lowest electric bills for our size house (and that’s even with an extra fridge and freezer!) We consistently have lower bills than others with the same size and year house, according to the electric company (they send out comparisons) and when we did the math, it would cost us more to install solar than to continue using the electric company.

          We’re interested in it, but unless technology changes to cost less (and there are some types of panels in the works that would cost much less to make than what’s widely available now), it won’t pay for itself for us.

  30. -I spent $22 on 2 gallons of milk, sandwich bags, 2 cans chili pinto beans ($0.29 each/limit 2), eggroll wrappers, creamer, bananas, and half and half. Also picked up the next week, milk, eggs, OJ, and chips at Costco. Total is $72 for the month. I’ve opened 42 jars of home canned food.

    -A can of sweetened condensed milk that I opened by accident at Christmas thinking it was evaporated milk was frozen. I took it out of freezer as well as the last of the coconut. I made miracle 7 layer bars.

    -I used the eggroll wrappers to make egg rolls. I had half a package of coleslaw mix in the freezer (put there before it went bad). I thawed it out and the squeezed out the excess fluid and cooked it in my mixture as normal. I also made some cream cheese wontons with the remainder of the eggroll wrappers. I froze 3 egg rolls for another meal, besides the ones we ate.

    -I used a jar of pear sauce and a package of shredded zucchini from the freezer and made some pear zucchini bread. I made it in small loaves (4). I gave 2 away and we are eating the other 2.

    -I am doing a pantry challenge this month trying to only spend $50 and use 50 jars. I am starting to see some room in my freezers. I have 3 of them, an upright, small chest and an even smaller chest. It won’t be long and I will be able to shut the smallest chest freezer down.

    -We paid off our house!! So nice to have that done. We now will work on my car and then we will be out of debt.

    -it was my dad’s 88th Bday. I made ice cream cupcakes with ice cream both chocolate and vanilla and crushed Oreos. I put them in clear drink cups. I made a dozen of these for $8. I checked with Dairy Queen these were $2.99 each to buy them. That would have cost me $36. So $28 savings.

    -The cold continues here, many nights below zero but we stay warm and cozy with our wood heat. It also keeps the electric bill very low when we aren’t using our baseboard heat.

    Have a great week!

    1. Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! We paid ours off 4 years ago and it is the BEST feeling. Good for you!

    2. Julie T- What a wonderful accomplishment to have the house paid off! So happy for you!! 🎉🎉🎉

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    3. That is terrific news about paying off your house Julie T. Congrats! (and hello again from GCE 😉

  31. Great going this month, Brandy! Your husband had a great savings just by thinking, “What do I really use, here?” I need to keep that in mind when I shop.

    I got a $10 gift card from a survey through Accelerant, and a $5 gift card from Rakutan surveys.

    One of the local farmers that I use offers big handfuls of herb cuttings for $2. I asked if I could get a live cutting of an herb (in water) instead, for $2. She brought me an entire plant with plenty of dirt on the roots! She said she had too much of it growing and just dug up an entire mound of it, almost 8″ across. Price – $2. It’s organic. She lives 20 minutes from me, so I know our climate is the same and our soils are similar. Here’s hoping I can keep it growing.

    I am finishing up my no-spend month. I had a couple of emergencies – my heater went out (with freezing temps forecast) and my dog got sick, but other than that, I bought only necessities. If it hadn’t been for the emergencies, I would have had a much bigger chunk of money to transfer to my savings, but I did end the month with cash in the bank and no hitting of the emergency fund was needed.

    I used a chicken up completely – roasted, then chicken salad after several meals with roasted, then chicken vegetable soup using the carcass.

    I look forward to reading everyone else’s money savings.

  32. My son recently mentioned that he really liked the cream of mushroom in recipes over a can of chicken soup. I found Campbell’s on sale this week for 50 cents and bought 24 cans. Sadly no other varieties were that low. I stayed with my daughter for three days after she had oral surgery. As I prepared meals for her ,I put servings in zip lock baggies and froze them for her. We used an uber eats coupon and a gift card to order food in. Sugar cookie was impressed with this. Living in a rural area, we don’t have this option. My biggest savings this year was on a cart of random items. One day a week, the local returned box store sells a cart load of goods for $20.00. You can pick anything left in the store, fill your cart full for the one price. I arrived early. Immediately went to the shelf w household, health and beauty items and swiftly pushed them all in my cart. I found an assortment of items on the many tables of goods. My daughters picked through my items and had a field day. Pink kitchen cleaners , 10 boxes of command hooks and a $40.00 bottle of lotion were the highlights. I’ve eliminated all trips to the thrift store. Our grocery bill is minimal from dumpster diving. I’m hoping to have the best savings this year ever. We still have not used our heat and my bill is still holding at about $130.00. That’s less than half of our regular winter bill. Sugar cookie has a birthday coming up . She has requested Chinese food. Our local grocery has these items bogo this week. I’m going to buy pot stickers and eggrolls. I’ll make the fried rice at home. I’ll pick up an order of Sesame chicken with an uber eats promotion and spend $20.00 for her special dinner. I bought her a Barbie for half price at Target. Being able to end the shopping addiction is something I have struggled with for a long time. Painful but the truth.

  33. *I got eggs for 97c for a dozen and 5 dozen eggs for $4.99.

    *We celebrated our January birthdays with steaks/chicken from our freezer, discounted rolls that I covered with the hawaiian roll sauce. My kids were in heaven with the rolls. Mashed potatoes, frozen veggies and grapes. My daughter made cupcakes for our dessert to share. We give the birthday person $25 and a small gift. The gift was purchased from clearance/sale items. Usually gum, deodorant, or even laundry detergent or cleaning stuff. We make a homemade card with a personal note from all of us.

    *We went to a discount shop store and were able to buy iceberg lettuce 2/$1, cucumbers 2/$1, grape tomatoes for 99c. They had discounted roasts and rib eyes that we tucked into our freezer. We had been looking for beef for our freezer and just kept checking discount meat sections.

    Have a wonderful week!

    *For exercise, I’ve been using Walk at Home and housecleaning. For strength training, I use the sheets my doctor gave me as reference. My hips have weakened because of my feet issues. I thought I would have to get a shot but the doctor gave me exercises I could do easily and not have to go to the physical therapist. They also gave me an exercise band. I’ve increased my stretching and also icing the area.

    *My husband has been cleaning out another relatives home which is completely trashed and ruined. Holes in the walls, floors, bad plumbing and electrical. Even graffiti on the back of the home. They found mice and way too many questionable leaks. In the garage rafters, there was not any damage. He found 2 chicken figurines that had been his grandmothers, a very sturdy and nice wind chime, a 6 foot ladder in good condition, drywall tools, 6 cases old fashioned milk bottles from 1935 (the relatives owned a dairy) and 6 solid wood doors also from 1935. He brought home clean rags and towels and washed them in hot water then cut up the towels to use for more rags. He’s brought home the items. Some will be sold and others used by us or our children. My husband is good at finding things we can use – but others just toss in the trash because they don’t see any value in it. He has no problem going through stuff and cleaning it up.

    *My husband wanted a fan in our trailer for our summer trips. The motor didn’t work right so he returned it at no charge and replaced it with a new one. He installed the new one – which works correctly. He also sanded the top of a night stand we got for free and then re-stained and sealed it with supplies he already had at home. He scraped the grease off the top of our kitchen cabinets – we don’t have ventilation that sends it outside. He then applied sealant and cut paper to fit on top of the cabinets to make it easier to keep clean. We can just replace the paper when needed. The paper is from our supply of scrap paper.

    *I purchased ribbon from Walmart that I can use for wreaths and gifts. It was on clearance – 4 rolls for $3. I also bought my daughter a cardigan on clearance for $4. I will put that away for next Christmas. I also bought emergency multi-purpose bracelets for $2/2 that I will use for next Christmas. From my Buy Nothing group, I received free Easter baskets that I cleaned and then put together for neighbors for Easter. I used my pictures from calendar of last year and framed a few to use as decoration. The frames were also from the Buy Nothing group.

    *My youngest loved a dog calendar but it was from last year. I used white outs on the dates and then wrote the correct dates in with sharpie. She was thrilled.

    1. I LOVE old milk bottles! I only have four that don’t match. Are you selling yours online anywhere?

      1. I love old milk bottles, too. But then, my dad delivered milk for a living, starting in the late1920s. I have an old round bottle from the dairy where he worked for 23 years…all the time I was growing up. Although I didn’t pay anywhere near this much for it, they are about $35 plus $20 shipping on eBay! However, I only remember the square-sided bottles, and I’m looking for one. I use milk bottles as vases for casual bouquets. My dad worked for one of the smaller outfits in Portland that has since gone out of business. The family my daughter lives with for half the week had one of their milk boxes! They bought it at a garage sale and the actual dairy didn’t mean anything to them–I traded a Darigold Seattle box for it! I use it on my patio to store gardening hand tools.

      2. I love old milk bottles too! What is it about them that’s so lovely? I’ve been searching eBay (unsuccessfully) for one from the local dairy I used to visit as a child. (We could watch the cows being milked, pet the calves, and if I was very good and didn’t ask, I sometimes got a cherry popsicle. 😉 )

    2. Love your calendar fix! I always receive my favorite calendar for Christmas, but also need one for the office. I keep the old calendars to frame the nature prints (changing them out with the seasons), so I looked online and discovered that the days this year are the same as 2011, and I had that calendar intact, so that went up on the wall in the office. It’s funny looking at the birthdays marked on there; my one daughter was 16 in 2011 and she is now 27. Makes me think back and realize how much she has changed and how much time has passed.

  34. Purchased a different laundry washing powder that said we could get a refund if we didn’t like it. Turned out to be as good as the one we currently buy. This will be a 48% saving.

    My children were invited to swim in the neighbours pool, which was great for them to cool off during our hot and humid summer days. I enjoyed chatting with my neighbour while keeping an eye on my children in the pool.

    I made a large batch of vegetable based coconut chettinad curry, using sweet potatoes I got for 49 cents a kilogram (1 kilogram is about 2.2 pounds).

    I did not go grocery shopping this week, using what we had on hand. I did go to the grocery store to get more milk though.

    I researched and put a book on hold at the library that Brandy mentioned she had read (The Christmas Bookshop). It sounds lovely.

    I reorganised my pantry.

    I made pizza’s, vegetable and lentil soup, sweet potato curry, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs on toast, taco’s, sandwiches, fruit platters, pumpkin muffins and wraps.

    My children received much needed items from family members for their birthday. I am grateful for their generosity.

  35. You got so much done, Brandy!
    I hope you’ll post some pictures here on the blog. I won’t use anything FaceBook (Instagram is owned by them) because of their anti-privacy policies and I’d love to see the new garden.
    It’s been cold here since Friday and we’ve had the electric oil heater on in the living room where we can keep the heat in using pocket doors. We turn it off at night, but the bill will be significantly higher, I think.
    I chuckled when I read Maxine’s post mentioning she doesn’t stock up on capers– our renter/neighbor belongs to Costco so I took him there a couple of weeks ago (he rides a bike and that would be impractical for his shopping) and one of the things I stocked up on was capers. I figure they make anything taste better and if there’s an econopocalypse, I’ll need them. I also stocked up on organic plantain chips which are difficult to find and these were a great bargain. They also had Frank’s Hot Sauce that we use to make broccoli and cauliflower “wings.” Since he’s here for a few months, I’m sure I’ll be taking him back
    Like everyone else, I’m trying not to let any food go to waste. I was given a lot of going-off onions and sliced them up, sauted them in coconut oil and froze them for future use. I also had a LOT of celery from our volunteering and made vegan cream of celery soup. I don’t love it, but it;s healthful and used up the celery. We also had many bunches of organic scallions and sauteed them with most of their greens until they’re slightly brown. They’re delicious.
    If anyone likes Jane Austen era mysteries, I read a couple by Anna Dean– Bellfield and A Gentleman of Fortune and found them enjoyable. I got them from the library. There’s an actual Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron which is very good. I tend not to read disturbing books and particularly avoid ones about the Holocaust because of my heritage; you’re tougher than I am, Brandy! HAve you read The Mitford Books by Jan Karon? They are sweet and uplifting. My apology if I already posted about them here.
    We picked up an Apples to Apples game at the thrift store as well as a pretty jigsaw puzzle. Our neighbor’s been telling us Apples to Apples is fun so we’ll see!
    I hope everyone’s surviving the winter storms and thank you, Brandy for your work on this blog.

    1. Cara, if you scroll down to the bottom on my website (easier on a page that isn’t the blog page) you can see my Instagram photos here on the website! You can click on any of them without having an account.

      I have read the Mitford books; they were okay, but as the series continued, they became less interesting to me, and I didn’t finish the series.

  36. My teen daughter had a pile of clothes in great condition that she had outgrown or didn’t work for her. I put them in a big, durable IKEA bag, and added a tag to the bag, labeling it the “pass along bag” with instructions. It will go around the girls’ youth group from church, and each girl that is interested can take what works for her, and add items that she doesn’t need anymore (if she wants) and then pass it on to the next interested person. I think it will be a fun way for them to get some new clothing and connect with each other. Our church group used to do an annual event in October called “Swaptober” where everyone brought things they didn’t need, and took what they wanted. Sort of the same idea, but in a traveling bag.

  37. My teen daughter had a pile of clothes in great condition that she had outgrown or didn’t work for her. I put them in a big, durable IKEA bag, and added a tag to the bag, labeling it the “pass along bag” with instructions. It will go around the girls’ youth group from church, and each girl that is interested can take what works for her, and add items that she doesn’t need anymore (if she wants) and then pass it on to the next interested person. I think it will be a fun way for them to get some new clothing and connect with each other. Our church group used to do an annual event in October called “Swaptober” where everyone brought things they didn’t need, and took what they wanted. Sort of the same idea, but in a traveling bag.

  38. Hello everyone-

    Thank you for the encouragement and swagbuck referral link the week before last Brandy! And you were missed last week, but such a good example to put family first always!

    Frugal accomplishments:

    Celebrated my son’s birthday with a homemade cake and decorations we created or already owned.

    The day after my son’s birthday we found out that we were exposed to covid and my husband wasn’t feeling well. We decided to stay home and quarantine to be safe (the infection rates in our county are really high and we didn’t want to contribute to it). Thankfully we work and school at home so it was an easy decision. It also helped us save money! We saved on gas and ate at home all week.

    I made beef broth using soup bones from the 1/4 cow my family split with my parents. The bones were quite meaty and I made beef stew the following day. The parts that weren’t ones I wanted to eat made great dog food along with the mushy carrots from making the broth!

    I have been careful to save all veggie scraps either for the compost or to supplement our rabbit feed.

    Batch cooked some bean burgers for my vegetarian daughter. The store bought ones are about $1 per patty so this is a big savings.

    Baked for entertainment with my daughter using ingredients on hand. We made a flour-less chocolate torte, donuts, and lemon bars.

    Thankfully prior to quarantining we had gone to the library. Books provided a lot of entertainment this week! I am reading the Beverly Cleary book, A Girl from Yamhill, that was recommended here. It’s a bit of a slow read for me but I am really enjoying it.

    Found an app called sell back your book that buys used books. I scanned in about 18 books that were going to be donated and made $26. I will mail them this week. Most of the books didn’t get more than 20 cents but $26 for decluttering isn’t bad!

    Sold some home school curriculum I no longer needed for $175! I only paid $75 and used it for a couple years. On ebay the price for this curriculum was about $250 but I wanted to sell it locally. I am VERY happy with this sale.

    Canceled two streaming services that we no longer needed. We had a list of movies we wanted to watch from one streaming service so we are enjoying those while being home on quarantine.

    Cleaned our Berkey filter. I have been cleaning the same one since purchasing it 4 years ago. We have really hard water and even a Brita didn’t make it drinkable. The Berkey works wonders but the filters are really expensive but I just keep cleaning mine and it still works great!

    Decided to skip the next two sessions of indoor soccer for my daughter. They are $90 for 8 games and we aren’t impressed with the league. She’ll play again in a few months but this saves us $180 and the cost of new indoor soccer shoes.

    I am giving Swagbucks a try. Not sure it’s for me but so far I have made $8. I am hoping to make enough on Swagbucks and Ibotta for Easter basket treats this year.

    Received a free frozen pizza via Ibotta. This made a nice lunch one day for the family.

    Knowing I will have to reduce my grocery budget the next few months has made me evaluate my food storage. I clearly see the holes now which is a blessing for the future. One place I did quite well is the baking section which my kids will enjoy the next few months lol.

    Have an amazingly frugal week everyone!

      1. I’m not Corey, but we’ve had a Berkey for at least 12 years. My husband just cleans the outside with a scrubbie, then puts the faucet up to the water intake, and flushes it from the inside with water. He cleans them whenever we notice the filtering starting to slow. The carbon filters should never need replacing, but the arsenic and heavy metal filters eventually need replacing when they become stopped up. It just depends on the type filters that are in yours.

  39. Excellent idea having your son bring the milk home in his bag, my two son’s work at a meat/fruit market and I have in the past had them pick up a few items here and there. It saves me from making an extra trip before I would pick them up from work. I don’t buy much from where they work, it is expensive.

    *still need to have my sewing machine repaired and have had no luck finding a draft dodger at the thrift store, I did though find some at Aldi for $5.99. I only bought one and am using it in my bedroom. The towel that was there moved to another and into a window sill.

    *stocked up on my puppies dog food. The Meijer I shop at is often out of it and most other pet food.

    *requested more books from my library, we are back to in person holds :). A few of the books were on creative mending, I am looking forward to reading through and hoping to get a few ideas.

    *patched my puppies dog bed, it was not possible to properly stitch the new hole he added. He has a second bed for his crate, he broke the zipper unzipping it to get to the stuffing (he loves stuffing…). I am not handy enough to put in a new zipper, especially without my machine. I think I’m going to get a pillow cover (hopefully from the thrift store), put the stuff in there and then put that into the bed cover.

    *my youngest son was looking for something sweet yesterday, we are out of baked goods but I did suggest he could grab some of the frozen cupcakes leftover from Christmas (he forgets I squirrel odds and ends of food away). He ended up making a sundae with toppings from his brothers graduation party (we had too much) and some ice-cream that a customer did not want (nothing wrong with it, just changed their mind) once I got to their home (they received a credit on their account and the store was going to throw it away). He was very pleased with his ice cream sundae, lol.

    *dropped off a load of items at the Salvation Army. My oldest son moved out and it was things he did not want and I was not able to rehome.

    *removed said son fully from our auto insurance. He has his own now. That did not save money this month but will for all the following.

    I know I have more but am drawing a blank. I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful week. We are expecting substantial snow Wednesday/Thursday though not like the east coast, I’m hoping my youngest has a snow or zoom day or that my husband drives him in to school. I don’t like driving in snow.

    1. Mara, check at Wal-Mart or discount store and see if they still have some pool noodles or maybe getting them in for this year. Cut them the width of the door and slice into the noodle and slide on bottom of door. It really helps, it’s cheap and easy to do.

  40. Id like to know how to go about researching refurbished hot water heaters.i keep ending up at big box stores.im not having much luck.the big box stores charge too much.any ideas wou be great

    1. In reading your comment about hot water heaters, I wonder if any of our readers have ever swapped out the anode rod in their hot water heaters.
      What it does is attract ions of the minerals in the water. Eventually, they don’t work as they become calcified. Once that happens the minerals end up on the inside of the wall of the tank. An anode rod is a fairly inexpensive part and it will keep the tank going longer. Does anyone have any experience doing this? We have very hard water here so I’m thinking of doing it.

    2. We’ve done this several times. It’s a pretty easy fix. Pull out the old one and pop in the new. Much cheaper than replacing the water heater…which I would only do if it sprung a leak. Note that electric water heaters (at least the ones I have had) have two of these. If your hot water cools off but still heats, probably one of the elements (but not the other) has burned out. I’m sure there are hundreds of You Tubes on this!

      1. thanks Maxine. Mine is a gas powered tank. There’s nothing wrong with my hot water heater
        but I thought I might extend its life by doing this.

    3. Check around for demolition companies in your area. THey often sell used equipment from houses being torn down/remodeled. Too m any down here, unfortunately. Peiple will buy a million dollar new home, tear it down and start over. Luckily there are several good demolition companies that will sell the pieces!

  41. Loved seeing the pics on your IG page! I so enjoy looking at pictures of other people’s gardens. It makes me especially happy during the winter months when mine looks so desolate.
    –Like others, we’ve been eating from the freezer and pantry often this month. Gardenpat inspired me to bake a beef pot pie using storebought pie crust and the leftover roast beef/stew that has been taking up space in my freezer since the summer. I added fresh potato cubes and some butter. My husband LOVED it. He ate it several times and told me he thought about it all day after it was gone. LOL Guess I need to do that again. The few times we ate out, I used coupons and saved any to-go cups for seed starting.
    –Through an app, I sold several books that were lingering on my shelf. I’m saving up for a girlfriend trip this summer, so this is going to be extra $$ for me to take along. Then at an estate sale this weekend, I purchased 2 books that I was also able to sell, which also paid for my entire (small) purchase for the day. That was fun!
    –I accidentally got plain yogurt from the store instead of flavored. No one in my family will eat it. Then I dropped the unopened container on the floor, busting the lid. I froze it in 1/2 cup portions in muffin tin liners to use for baked goods later. Before reading this blog, I would have grumbled and thrown it away.

      1. It’s called Sell Back Your Book. You use your phone to scan the ISBN on a book, and the app tells you what they will pay. Some books are not accepted, and on some they only offer pennies (like 12 or 26 cents). However, other books that I had just sitting around were around $5. When your “cart” total is $7.50, you can request a free shipping label — they pay for shipping. Just pack up your books in a box and take it to a FedEx drop spot, or the USPS. It’s really easy! Someone on Paperbackswap told me about it. I also heard of another one called Pangobooks, but I haven’t tried it.

        1. Sell Back Your Books was very efficient for me, and it is kind of fun to see what they will or will not take, (ooh– twelve cents!). Newer books are more likely to get an offer, but not exclusively so.
          Decluttr is another source, which accepts electronic media, CDs, DVDs, and equipment as well.
          Not sure if the sales cycle works with the academic year, meaning selling in November or December before students are buying for the January semester, and ditto for late summer, so higher offers are made when academic books might be needed.

    1. Dianna- So glad you liked the pot pies! Yesterday, I was tired after a long day and considered suggesting takeout food since January was over and we had only eaten from the pantry and freezer all month! But suddenly, I remembered that when I made the mini beef pot pies a week or two ago, I froze 5 of the 6 I made! I even wrote the reheating from frozen instructions on the foil I had covering each one! So fast to reheat, so delicious!
      Then this afternoon, our neighbor across the alley whose partner died a couple weeks ago stopped by to return my tray that we used to carry dinner over to him. The house will be up for sale in the Spring so he will be moving. His partner died without a will and although they had never married during their 20 years together, our neighbor had never been listed as a beneficiary. So the son of the deceased will pay the mortgage through until the house sells in Spring and son and our friend will split the proceeds. Moral of the story: It’s SO important to have a will no matter how healthy, young you are,

      He told me how much he loved the chicken pot pie and apple crisp we took over meant to him and how delicious they were! My heart melted for his sad situation and I sent him back across the alley with 2 of those mini beef pot pies from my freezer! Reminded me again of how blessed we are to have enough and to share!

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  42. I post in paragraphs as I change subjects. Sometimes the posts are correct–sometimes not. Tonight is a not. Not sure what the problem is. 🤷‍♀️

  43. I am enjoying your pictures of spring flowers. We usually get 1 or 2 bouts of snow around 1-3 inches. In January it snowed 4 times getting anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow. It sure has been fun for the kids!
    That is wonderful news and interesting with your natural gas price. Our natural gas price increased 5%. Well, the utility company made an error and sent out a bill for the old rate. Almost two weeks later I got a bill for the new rate. Our gas price increased by an additional $5. Everyone I know in my area that has electric heat pay a lot more than we do. We keep our house at 60 degrees. We have a house with old windows that are drafty. Our office room has a few computers that keeps the room warmer so we shut the door and all hang out in there while doing school.
    I was thrilled to find some homeschool curriculum to fill in the gaps. Everything I purchased was used or low cost.
    I have been busy researching how to store popcorn kernels. For a decade we have purchase bulk popcorn and stored it in Rubbermaid containers. Not shocked, but surprised when I went to get more popcorn out of storage and there are dust like bugs in the bottom of the container. It is not weevils. The current batch of popcorn we have was purchased 2ish years ago. So far I have came up with buying smaller amounts (not 50 pound bag) and storing in glass jars. I was also surprised how much popcorn price has raised!
    This past year is the first year I started making broth. Now I am making it multiple times a month. Mostly chicken broth. I have also made turkey broth and ham broth when we got those meats on sale. My oldest son likes to use it as the liquid when cooking brown rice.

  44. Hello all – happy February!

    That’s such an amazing savings on the tools, Brandy. So smart of your husband to really parse out what he needed the most so he got the best bargain and HOORAY for finding such a deal!

    So many things seem like “same old, same old” here that I’ve not bothered commenting. We are prepping for our final military move as my husband is retiring this year, and doing it ourselves again as we did in 2020. (Due to labor and truck driver shortages, plus exposure, it just makes things easier and they will pay us back for our labor what they’d have paid a moving company.) A neighbor gave us a number of U-Haul boxes they used for their move and I collect boxes from dog food shipments. We’ve had to buy some boxes, but we learned to save our receipts; a) if we somehow have boxes we don’t use, we can return them and b) the ones we do use, we can submit the receipts for boxes/packing materials for reimbursement. We don’t expect to “make” money on the move, since we’ll have storage fees while we try to find a house, but we won’t lose money and everything will be stored in “PODS” not shifted around, stored with other people’s items, and potentially lost as has happened often in the military community. So the savings is the free boxes from the neighbor and using our own labor, which I count as a workout as I’m packing and lifting boxes of books lately. 😉

    Our dog is a senior and on a specific food, which has been out of stock frequently the past few months. I can get it through a couple of websites along with manufacturer direct, so every few days I check each of them for stock and order a box when I can as she finishes a box twice a month. Whenever I can find them, I put them on autoship, which is a few dollars off, and then adjust the dates as needed (which isn’t an issue right now as they are skipping the orders due to no stock anyway). This keeps things topped up just like our human food storage, especially as they had a price increase as well due to limited availability of ingredients. At least that is absorbed ahead a little bit too, again just like with human food prices going up. I did look into alternatives for her but those were out too!

    Husband redeemed credit card points – we haven’t done that for several years and realized there was a balance of them; he checked and it was $900, because we had been building points since the last move! That went to pay for the bulk of some certification fees he and our son have for vocational training. “Found money”, as my grandmother used to call it.

    I’ve been working on building business options for after his retirement, doing as much free or discounted as possible. Set up a website through a company that works specifically with wellness professionals and got a 20% coupon off their annual plan plus it still included their usual two weeks free trial. I have been working on additional training to add to my prior certifications, and late January a training organization had to change an in-person event to virtual; they extended their early bird discount and offered a code to take a bit more off. I was able to schedule two trainings virtually (they take place this week) for the price of one in-person and I’ll save the gas and parking. (It was local to me but I wasn’t going, due to DC being a “hot spot”, hence why they had to cancel the venue.) Both of these are things that were on my “bucket list” for 2023, so I’m excited we could squeeze them in prior to our move, allowing me to offer the classes as soon as I get established in our new town again. A friend who is also a small business owner has provided insights and kept mentioning I should go back to Instagram, so I finally caved and rejoined yesterday. I used to do PR and marketing so I know how useful it can be, but also found it incredibly intrusive; being away for a year helped me decide how to make it work best for me this time around. Grateful for the option of a free service to use as I do know that my current clients are there and like to connect/feel community there.

    Last other noticeable savings: a family member sent us an Amazon card for Christmas. I realized I had “bits and pieces” Visa gift cards in my wallet for odd amounts, like $3.12, $8.28, that sort of thing. I’ve been letting them sit as asking a cashier to do a split tender sale to use them up doesn’t seem fair when lines are long, which they usually are at the base stores due to staff shortages. I tested whether Amazon would let me reload onto the gift card with those odd dollar amounts, and it did! It took me a little while as I had to enter each gift card’s information in for payment, as one would add a new credit card, and then make an Azon “reload” purchase, but it amounted to $40+ and was time well spent to have it consolidated to one place now. Probably old news for those who shop on Amazon more, but I rarely do so I felt quite tech-savvy to figure that out. Haha

    Grocery bill is lowered down to only perishables as we are eating from the pantry and freezer for the move. The saved grocery money is going into picking up camping meals (like Mountain House) that we can eat during the move and while in hotel trying to find a house. Saves us from paying for fast food all the way across the country and upon arrival and as they are shelf-stable, they’ll just sit in a tote until we hit the road in summer.

  45. Brandy, I am so inspired by your gas bill! I have really been focusing on our water and electric bill. I am down to doing four loads one week and five the following. This is from seven loads a week. This will not only impact my water bill, but also gas for the dryer (I am combining the dark and light loads in one dryer load because I have so few lights) and electric for the washer. Now that it is only the two of us, our dishwasher runs about twice a week . I do a lot of hand washing because of vintage bowls and utensils, and 40-70 year old pots and pans. I have always washed under running water because I couldn’t stand putting my hands in a sink full of floaties, but I am working on overcoming that and fill up a third of the sink after breakfast for the breakfast and lunch dishes, and a small sink after dinner. That way I don’t have to deal with the floaties and grease of it sitting all day.
    Gardenpat and others have inspired me to pressure can more meat and I have done spaghetti sauce and am doing sloppy joes today. I canned carrots last week because my daughter left behind a large bag of organic baby carrots and I had the Costco bag of big carrots. I also canned cranberry sauce with cranberries I bought at Thanksgiving, and then got sick. We brought back a bag of navel oranges from Florida after Thanksgiving that were terrible for eating, and then I got sick. We don’t like marmalade, so I hand juiced them (with the old-fashioned glass dish juicer) and we had fresh squeezed orange juice for a couple of days. 😋 We are diligently using up everything in the refrigerators and tackling the freezers. It is so satisfying!
    Your husband’s research and patience definitely paid off on the tool! My husband is like that as well, while I tend to be a bit more impulsive😩, but I am working on it. He has been patiently removing the rust from all the tools and hardware we brought back from his parents’ home (it’s a non-toxic solution which works really well, not cheap but lasts a long time and saved hundreds of dollars of tools). He is now putting together nine toolboxes with every tool imaginable (yes, that is just the tip of the tool collection we have) for each of the kids. What a great gift this will make!
    I love this community and am grateful for all the ideas and inspiration I get here; I know it’s a lot of work for you, Brandy, and I think I can speak for many in saying it is so much appreciated and an incredible use of the gifts you have been given. Thank you!

    1. Laura S- That made my day to hear you say that I helped motivate you to pressure can meats, etc! ❤️ It has become something that I do often enough that we made space on a laundry room shelving unit (at about waist level for me) to keep the pressure canner when it’s not in use! It had been in the basement tucked away and so I could talk myself out of using it! But when it is just a room away from kitchen on the same level, I find that I use it much more frequently! Funny how I can make a simple change like that and it changes my productivity! 🥴

      Sounds like your husband is a great “team mate” in your frugal journey! Mine is too and I am so grateful because that’s not the case for everyone and it just makes the journey more enjoyable!

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  46. Hello, frugal friends! In the past two weeks we have had two snow events. The first gave us a nice 6″ of snow and, unfortunately, ice. The second storm was just an inch or so, but, boy, the wind and temperatures were miserable. One morning it was -5 F. Even our dog did not want to go out. Fortunately, there was no reason to go out before, during or after the storms as we had everything we needed in the way of food and heat. We used our propane fireplace to supplement the geothermal radiant floor heat. It made the days nice and cozy without much cost. We only run the fireplace about 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening to take the chill off. I have used the oven only once in the past month. I put breadcrumbs in while it preheated and cooked multiple items once it was hot. I made a casserole which fed us multiple times and then a double batch of cookies. We used our T-Mobile Tuesday app to get .15 off per gallon to fill up our two vehicles. I do not go out much so it will last quite a while for my car. I had a $3 Food Lion reward so I was able to buy milk, bananas and 1 tomato for .48 total. Kroger overcharged me on multiple items last week so I called Customer Service and received a $3 credit. I was able to use that credit this week on my small grocery purchase. I bought a food saver and jar sealer attachment from Amazon a few weeks ago. When I went to use the jar attachment I realized I had the wrong cord. I bought what Amazon recommended for the machine I purchased. I called the FoodSaver customer service to see what could be done. They were excellent! They explained everything to me and are sending me a free handheld sealer attachment which I can use with the jar sealer as the cord I need is out of stock. I priced the handheld sealer at Walmart and they go for $15. I thought this was very nice of the company to do as I feel the problem was my mistake. I said this to the representative and offered to pay for what they were going to send me but she insisted it was their pleasure to help me solve the problem. I love my new vacuum sealer and can’t wait to be able to use the jar sealer and handheld attachment…We continue to eat mostly from the freezer and pantry. I did very little grocery shopping in January. When I went in to the store last week to purchase a few items there were many empty shelves and my total was 60% higher than a month ago. I about fainted. I did not buy any meat, personal products, or paper products…just fresh produce (most of which was marked down) and dairy. I plan on doing another very low spend month this month. I am reading books from the library. My husband works across the street from the library so he always returns my books saving us gas and time. I attended a free nutrition workshop at the library which included a free Panera Bread lunch. I saved half the lunch for my husband to take to work the next day. We received a $17 CVS coupon which I used to buy a 2 pack of toothpaste, a party pack of playdough which I will use at Easter for the grandkids, and a Valentine for my husband. It cost me .58 and gave me another $4 coupon which my husband will use to buy some special, costly lotion for his eczema. I would like to share a Youtube channel called Rose Red Homestead. She demonstrates all things canning, freezing, food storage and emergency prep in a very practical, helpful way. One thing I learned from her is that I can use the water from garbanzo beans to replace eggs. If it is from the can I can use 1 T for an egg yolk, 2T for an egg white and 3T for a whole egg. If I use water from home cooked beans I need to cook the water until it reduces by about half. This is very exciting for me to learn. She showed how it whips up just like egg whites do and can be used for meringue. I love meringue and I can make it with less sugar which gives me a nice lower sugar treat. Next time I use my oven I am going to make some meringue cookies using bean water. I also have been using the air fryer I received at Christmas. I have to say I did not think I would use it much but I am using it A LOT. As it is just my husband and I at home now this allows me to cook up chicken and fish quickly and nutritiously. It hardly uses any electricity and is so easy to clean afterwards. I continue to do the usual frugal things like exercising by walking the dog and/or Youtube videos, turning off lights, conserving water, etc. Wishing everyone a safe and frugal week from the beautiful Appalachian mountains of southwest Virginia.

    1. Hey (sort-of) neighbor! I’m in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of Northwest North Carolina. 🙂

      1. We are in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. We are so blessed. I love looking out into the field next door and seeing the deer wandering around. Don’t really appreciate when they come wandering into my garden though:) Went to Lake Lanier last summer. Sure is pretty in that part of NC.

    2. That is really interesting about the garbanzo beans! I just used up two cans last night making a curry. I plan on baking today and wish I would have seen this post sooner. Oh well.

    3. Thank you, Marley. I’m a first time responder, but needed to say that I so appreciate the idea that meringue can be made without eggs! Raw eggs are on the n0-no list for my husband who has a heart transplant so perhaps I can make that old Betty Crocker Lemon Meringue pie for him again.
      Shirley in S. Oregon

  47. Brandy,
    I got interrupted while posting my main message. I wanted to say I checked your instagram photos (and I appreciate not having to sign up to do so). The garden is looking great – you must be feeling good that it’s all coming together. I love the trellises – what are you planning on growing there? They look so tall! Are your parents right next door? That is so convenient!

    I relocated a small wood trellis so that it is now between two other matching trellises. Each has a clematis growing on it so they will grow towards the new trellis in the middle but I am also seriously thinking of planting a grape vine there or perhaps a climbing rose. My small collection of roses (non-climbing) has to be relocated due to being shaded out by the peony jungle!

    Anyway I just wanted to say how beautiful everything is!

    1. I have seen a few trellises with clematis and roses together; it is quite pretty.

      I am growing grapes and blackberries on that side of the pergola. I will grow snow peas and cucumbers on the other side when it is done, and perhaps pole beans.

      Yes, my parents live next door, but not on that side; we have a gate connecting our backyards. THEIR neighbors had their grandchildren move in next door and they did the same thing!

      1. Brandy, I had a garden arch at my last house and I planted New Dawn (pale blush pink) climbing roses and dark purple Jackmanii clematis vines on either side. I saw this in an English gardening book, and it was delicious. (I am a sucker for pictures of English gardens). The plants were all supposed to climb up and over the arch, with the clematis twining up through the roses. In about 15 years, they never did. The clematis grew over the roses and completely obscured them. I still think this is a lovely idea, but if anyone is contemplating it, be sure to get specific info. I planted the clematis directly behind the rose bush and it clearly wasn’t the right location.

        The arch was wood. I spray-painted 4 ft. T-posts white to match the arch, snugged the arch up to them and wired them together (zip ties would also work). The supports then were invisible. I lived on a windy prairie, did all 4 posts and never had a problem with the arch blowing over. I think 2 posts would have been sufficient. In that case, doing them on the diagonal would probably work best.

    2. I love clematis! When I was a child we had a dark purple one growing up on a trellis by our front door. I always thought we had the most beautiful house just because of the flowers. As I child the flowers are what I noticed the most.

      1. Hi Tammy,

        One of mine is a dark purple clematis. I love clematis because they don’t require a lot of care.
        A pale pink rose would be nice in front of it. The other is a fuschia coloured one with the same colour of monarda
        in front of it. Interestingly the hummingbirds never go to them — I think they lack nectar.

        1. My dad had both blue and purple clematis growing on a couple of trellis’ and I always thought they looked so beautiful. I used to work at York University and while I was there they redid the front garden and entrance and put in a number of metal trellis’ – they were planted with Roses that always bloomed in time for the June graduation ceremonies – just gorgeous for all the photos!

          1. the roses sound beautiful! Unfortunately, few climbing roses do well here.
            Now you have me curious — what did you do at York?

        2. Hi Anne,
          Your garden sounds beautiful! I love the color fuschia as well! I know my husband’s family were selling them last year. I would like to get a plant and put it somewhere near our house. I love flowers!

          1. When you plant a clematis here it is recommended to put a flat rock at/near its base.
            Perhaps that is only done in the north. I love clematis as they are relatively low maintenance.

      2. I meant to mention that I also have a massive bluish clematis that I trained to climb up a tree.
        It is really spectacular now.

        1. We planted clematis Montana and rose Paul’s Scarlet Pillar together on a pergola which was a mistake.Clematis Montana is a thug and my husband has to cut some back hard every winter to allow the rose to flourish. If we were starting over we would plant a Group 3 clematis that is pruned nearly to the ground each year. I dont want to teach grandma to suck eggs but don’t forget that roses and clematis are both greedy feeders and will compete for food and water.

          1. My clematis are supposed to be pruned close to the ground but they grow very quickly.One is called a Margot Koster
            clematis — it’s supposed to be pruned like that but often it has started growing all the way up the old vines. Last year, I pruned it
            but regretted it as it did not grow nearly like it usually did. I think I’ll not plant a rose in between because of the need for water.

  48. Beautiful pictures as always and thank you for the book recommendations. Since I enjoyed Patti Callahan’s last book on CS Lewis, I am currently reading, from the library, “Surviving Savannah”. The Pulaski steamboat explosion ( true event-think mini Titanic) when steamboats became a means of transportation, in the early 1800s. Thrifty actions this week: pantry meals, including more “free” entertainment such as joining a book circle, volunteering at a church youth dinner and attending a free senior luncheon, and cleaning out bathroom cabinets.

  49. Way to go on the low natural gas bill, Brandy! That is impressive. Could you give more details on how you cook rice by covering and turning it off after it comes to a boil? Like, how long do you let it sit until it’s done? I’ve been trying to get more into thermal cooking, but I haven’t had success with rice yet. I think I’m either not leaving it to sit long enough or I’m making too little, which causes the pan to lose heat too quickly.

    1. Bring the water to a boil and let it boil a minute or two. Then turn off the pan and put the lid on. I then work on making the rest of the meal. I haven’t actually timed it because I’m busy making everything else, but I am going to guess possibly 20 minutes? Rice will just continue to absorb water until it is all soaked up.

        1. Re Rice cooking: And always open the lid sneakily, because if it isn’t done cooking, you need the steam to stay in the kettle. (As well as not burning your face with a big blast of steam; open the kettle away from you if you can).
          I use the times on the package as a guideline, boiling and then turning off the burner. I also have the kettle on the back right burner if the oven is on, because the oven heat vents out there.

  50. We are having a cold winter in Fairbanks. At Christmas we had 3 major snowstorms totalling 3 feet of snow. Our tiny front yard is filled with snow and it is hard to see past it. Normally, our snow is later in the winter.
    The 3 of us were all sick. I don’t think it was covid, but we discovered it was hard to find a test. My husband finally took a rapid test so he was not exposing the congregation. I was very sick for 2 weeks. This is my 3rd week of staying in. Thankfully we have stocks of everything we needed. I would like to go to church in person but the roads have been bad with 2 inches of ice and I don’t want to slow my husband up. Last Saturday the Council had a retreat. He came home with some ziti that we all loved. It was a nice treat after being sick.
    We are still enjoying garden carrots and potatoes! We also have frozen celery and other vegetables. It is hard to feel deprived when we have these vegetables to enjoy, although it is tempting when I read of those of you harvesting garden items now. We have a short growing season in Alaska, but as we learn to preserve foods, we try to maximize our harvests. We also enjoy sharing what we have.
    Please take are of yourselves. Brandy, we miss the weeks you do not post so you are appreciated! We all need to take advantage of what is available and be gtateful for what we have. Alaska Gram

  51. I am enjoying your garden updates, Brandy, especially since we are in another snow storm today here in Indiana. I am looking forward to the Spring when I can get out in the garden again!
    I have been wanting some new throw pillows for our new couch and just couldn’t bring myself to pay the ridiculous amount for store bought ones. So, I went to Walmart and found some beautiful pre-cut fabric (2 yards for $10) to sew my own pillow covers and used a sleeping pillow that I cut in half for the stuffing. They turned out perfectly.
    We ate all our meals at home, going to the store only when we needed to. I made soups, baked potatoes with chili, roast chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and tuna salad. We found whole chickens, which have been scarce, for 99 cents per pound so we bought 2. I also found a pork tenderloin for half price.
    I went to a thrift store and they had a clearance section. I found a winter coat, a spring jacket, and a blouse that I can wear to work.
    Have a wonderful week!

  52. I wrote a post and haven’t seen it posted so I hope I don’t end up with a duplicate, I probably didn’t submit the first one.

    * I have continued to eat from the pantry. I did go to Aldi and get grapes, strawberries, potatoes, and my husband loves their cheese popcorn so I picked up a bag of it. I have multiple meals I grilled or baked and froze that I am trying to eat first before cooking. We have had: grilled chicken, Italian pork chops, fried venison steak, venison stew meat with mushroom gravy, muffin meatloaves, roast sandwiches, turkey pot pie, turkey salad, tacos from leftover meat, frozen lasagna I froze in individual servings, turkey tetrizinni, frozen cooked turnip greens, frozen breakfast casserole, frozen pancakes. I made red beans and rice for sons birthday and froze 3 meals for later.

    * I finished a heart quilt top made from fabric I had. I am working on crocheting a scarf. Yarn and hook given by a friend and she is teaching me.

    * I cleaned and organized my pantry and found a platter and two decorative plates I decided to sell. I thought I might hang them, but am using Transferware dishes and these just don’t go as well with them. I also pulled some toys I have for grandson that he has outgrown and listed to sell. Books next!

    * I had my haircut. First since September. I only go about 3 times a year, keeping a style that doesnt require monthly cuts saves money.I also only wash it about every 4th day. I cut husband’s hair.

    *Since I have been eating precooked meals most days I am not using the oven or stove long to heat dinner. I take things out the day before and thaw in refrigerator and then just have to heat up. If I make rice I make enough for two meals.
    *Gas has been $3.09 as cheapest price. I usually only let my cat get just below half a tank, but let it get almost empty hoping the price would go down. I was heading to the station that is always the cheapest and it was $3.09, and happened to see the Exxon next door was $2.99 and it is usually the most expensive. I filled up.

    * We ordered our 4 free tests. We had 4 family members ( not in our home) test positive so husband grabbed two at home tests when he saw them at the drugstore. I thought iwas positive, I was exposed and the. had symptoms. I tested negative but the doctor said they are seeing negative if tested within 24 hours,, but since I was exposed and had symptoms she thought I was positive. So we all stayed in and I retested negative a week later. It is a 30 minute drive to the doctor. They came to my car to test, but I made two trips. It is nice to have a home test for next time. And it is nice to have medicine and food here.
    * We found out CVS will deliver our prescriptions for free. The store is 7 miles, but not the direction we go, and if husband is working from home totally out of the way. It will save so much time to get them delivered.

    * Watched Around the World in 80 Days, All Creatures Big and Small, Call the Midwife, This is Us, Home Town, and we have started watching Bull. Oh, I watched the 2nd season of Emily in Paris while I was sick.

  53. I agree Dawn. I do a big monthly shop usually and then a fill in sort of shop about two weeks later. And then I just stay away from stores altogether if I can possibly manage it. Or I let my husband go in to pick up items and I stay OUT because I can’t see the impulses and he rarely picks up impulse items, lol.

  54. 1.24- 1.30
    – Invited a friend for lunch. I made chicken salad from items on hand. She thanked me three times. It was so fun.
    – Had our porch columns’ wood rot replaced, caulked and painted. Paid cash that we budgeted. Knocking small projects off our list helps our momentum to save money toward the next chore.
    – Continued to work on cleaning and sorting our linens. The closet looks much better and I can see everything! I donated or gifted the items that we don’t need
    – Potted some pothos cuttings in an adorable pot that I had. Paired it with a note for a housewarming gift.
    – Sewed a bottle bag from scraps to decorate a bottle of champagne(clearance for $4) for a friend who deserves to be toasted. Wrote her a note as well. She loved it!
    – Picked up two bins of pecans to sell. Used the money to replace broken fence boards
    – Rented out brass collection to a June bride
    – Booked two stays in our Airbnb
    – Contracted to teach three short lectures for a little extra cash
    – Used couch/car change to buy postage for an international letter
    – Scored several Ibotta freebies thanks to my sister’s tutelage 🙂
    – Sold a thrifted item for a large profit. I don’t need a second punch bowl, rght? 🙂
    – Husband did our taxes for free
    – My husband cut his hair and I shaved his neck
    – Ordered the free covid tests from the government
    – Picked a curbside pile for a queen headboard, long wall shelf and a side table to resell
    – Cut pothos to root- so easy!
    – Shopped around for a medical test that I need to have done. My doctor referred me to a place that charges $1200. I found one that offers the same service for $350. What the heck?!
    – A friend gave me a box of vintage linens to make into baby dresses(I sell these). The linens are in GREAT shape and swoon- worthy.
    – Had our 4th budget meeting- we’re making progress, but are still fighting some old habits. Consistent communication between us is encouraging!
    – Bought 9 lbs of ground turkey on clearance for $1.20 a pound(pretty sure it was mismarked!)
    – Hosted a cast party for 57 high school students. Hot cocoa bar & thrifted mugs. Students chose a mug to take home- this is always a HUGE hit and a great convo starter(“show me the mug you chose”). Cost for the party was $25.

      1. Margie, I keep a Google doc open on my computer and add to it as I go. It’s like a little journal that keeps me plugging away!

  55. I have continued with my pantry/freezer challenge to use up items I already have on hand. I have bought a few grocery items, such as eggs for 97c/18 at Kroger. I bought 5 cartons with the digital coupon. I also got 8 pounds of lovely navel oranges for 74c a pound which I thought was a great bargain. I love oranges and citrus and was more than happy to find such a good buy on these beauties.
    Outages in our stores are not chicken products but continues to be sausage and bacon, both turkey and pork items. I haven’t seen Hillshire Farm sausages at all. Juice products are still low and scarce. I’d heard that there was an apple shortage but not in our markets. Cream cheese has been in short supply in many markets as well. A local store was selling Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese for $3.99/8 ounces and that was their sale!
    Prices continue creeping upwards but not in all things. Oranges and apples have been well priced. Zucchini and squash are a bit higher than they have been in the past. I expect we’ll see a further increase in that and strawberries since upper Florida received frost in the past week. Florida is our main source of produce here in Georgia.
    I have focused hard on food of late in my home. I refuse to throw anything out and so far, I haven’t. Yes, children’s food scraps go out but the dogs eat those, so I don’t count that as waste. I’m focusing on using all that we have and not letting any portion go to waste. I am always looking to learn something new in this area.
    Because we’ve been sick with flu and then a cold, we’ve spent January at home. There’s a huge savings in that, lol. We had all we needed here at home, so we didn’t have to leave to go get anything. Praises for keeping a pantry and deep freezer and knowing how to use what we have to the maximum.

  56. The last week passed in a whirlwind of cooking and babysitting!
    After not taking a meal out to anyone for quite some time, there were several meals taken to people over the past 2 weeks. One was our neighbor, a truck driver who lives alone, who contacted Covid, had to complete his 857-mile journey, stop and sleep in his very cold truck because he was so sick, then crawled home, got into bed, and called Rob (my husband) to see if we had any broth or anything. Poor guy! Of course we fixed him up over the next couple of days. I was very grateful to my extensive pantry.
    While cooking for him, the soup got way too big as I poured in a jar of this and a jar of that–so I shared with some other friends and relatives who needed a boost. Other than the pound of hamburger in the very large pot, the rest was broth and veggies I’d canned, plus some celery and cooked dried beans and a little pasta, so it was practically free since most was from the garden.
    We babysat a lot. Our daughter got extra shifts at her new job, as different employees dropped from Covid symptoms. Not sure if they had Covid, or just felt ill, but they stayed home. At various times, I ended up cooking for my grandsons, both daughters, some other relatives who popped in to help me with the boys, and my family. It wasn’t uncommon for me to feed 6-10 people some days. My daughter said, “Hey, Mom, when I dropped the boys off you were cooking all this food (cornbread, brownies, etc.) and now it’s gone (as she takes a huge bite of cornbread)–thank you for keeping me so well-fed.” It felt good to know it was appreciated! We didn’t have to increase our food budget in January, in fact, we were able to buy some bulk foods from Azure Standard. We just dug deep into our extensive food storage. I’m so blessed to have it.
    My daughter and I worked together to do my grandson’s hair. Unless you have an African-American child with very curly hair, you may not know that this is a very extensive process. He didn’t enjoy it, but we got through it and he looks so cute now with his little braids. With both of us working, lots of snacks and distractions, we finished it twice as fast, easing the process for him, and we saved quite a bundle over having someone do it in a salon. Pictures on my blog: http://beckyathome.com
    We celebrated my husband’s birthday with a simple meal at home, a huge chocolate cake and some simple gifts. I gave him a gift certificate to a local Mexican restaurant. Hint. Hint. A friend came by and dropped balloons, fishing gear and chocolate on our doorstep for him. He loved it. Our nephew is now asking to help uncle eat his chocolate almost daily, so he loved it, too.
    I cleaned out a couple of boxes/baskets here and there. Little by little, and I found a few fabric scraps that I put to immediate use.
    I sorted the garage sale/thrift store clothes Rob found last summer and put out the ones that fit the boys now. They often come here in pajamas and go home in clothes, so it’s a constant rotation.
    I had help with all my craziness. My mom came one day. My sister came another. My aunt offered to come another day. There’s Rob. And Patsy, who is now 17. It takes all of us to keep up with those 2 babies, but I’m super blessed to be able to be so involved in their lives.
    Patsy was accepted to work at a camp this coming summer. We will miss her, but are so excited for her to be able to start realizing some of her dreams.

  57. What lovely Photos wow
    Finished knitting a pair of socks and started another.
    Read e books from the library.
    I Spring Cleaned the House. I get an urge to clean the house at this time of year
    Dusted all the windows to let in more light and cleaned the light bulbs and shades. We have doors with a glass panel in downstairs so you don’t need to turn extra lights on to move about.
    I have cooked all meals from scratch. Used a chicken carcass to make stock. I used the Remoska and instant pot where I could.
    Havested Brussels, carrots and parsnips from the garden. I have cut the lawn.
    Sown pepper seeds from seeds I saved last year. Filled pots with compost left over from last year.
    Replaces some curtain hooks for some broken ones I already had. Closed all curtains as it gets dusk, tucking them behind radiators to keep the warmth in.
    The beer bottled and put under the spare bed.
    I bought a years washing powder at 25% off at Waitrose
    I bought some more Kilner Jars [60P off] and a new door mat in the sales.
    We did our yearly accounts. Veg has remained about the same price as last year. Grocery bills showed a large increase in meat and bread .Insurance for the car has gone up about £20. Petrol was £1.47.7 this week, thank goodness we are not going far.
    Our gas and electric are fixed until April so that will get us through the winter. Next winter we will have to go back to the1950’s and only heat one room.We will not use the government new loan scheme.

    1. A friend of mine in Hull says everyone’s gas bills are double so far. She hasn’t received hers yet but decided to turn off the gas for now. I don’t know how she’ll manage to stay warm, but the whole world is dealing with everything going up double except for income. It’s definitely going to change things very quickly.

    2. I grew up in North Yorkshire in the 80’s. I remember my best friend’s house. They only heated the lounge. When you opened the door to go into the hall and upstairs, it was like an Arctic blast. It was a tiny semi, and her dad was a laborer, so money was tight.

      1. I think it is common to only heat the rooms you primarily use in Britain-we were there 5 years ago tracing some ancestors and I was having tea with a local historian down the road. She mentioned that during the day she mostly hung out in and just heated the kitchen which had a large Aga range that warmed things up. She said when her husband came home at night she heated the lounge so they could sit there. I was surprised as she was a lawyer and he was an accountant perhaps around 60 ish so I presume they had adequate funds. They must have made a practice of frugal habits.

        Which actually brings me to my next point-lots of people think that those who are frugal are short of money and have to. In many cases the exact opposite is true and they have enough-likely because they have practiced frugality for many years and don’t like to waste money. Few of us are born into wealth so we have to create our own.

        Another thing that I have learned in life and was passing onto my daughter today is that we usually have enough time OR money but rarely both together!

        1. Most people in the UK have central heating now but we only use it 2 hours in the morning and from around 4pm in the afternoon. We are using the heating more now we are both home all day. We got central heating put in around 1973. I do remember the ice on the inside of the bedroom windows in the morning and going out to my grandma’s outside toilet. I fear the with the high gas prices we will have to go back to heating just one room. We did it before we can do it again.

  58. Our natural gas prices went from 35 cents a therm last year to $1.07 a therm this year. We just had to replace our furnace two years ago (it was original to the house from 1955!), which was a blessing because it is a much more efficient one. We have a programmable thermostat that keeps the temp at 68 degrees when we are home, 62 degrees when we are at work, and 65 degrees when we are sleeping. We do the budget billing, which helps, but I can see that amount steadily climbing. Just holding out for the warmer weather to come (we live in South Dakota and the past couple of days have been 10 degrees as a high and -8 as a low)!

  59. Both our gas and electric bill for December were less than the than for October or November, and the electric was 1/2 of what we pay in the summer! This is typical- we have a wood stove, and propane wall heaters. It’s not feasible to use the wood stove until it below freezing; so our utility costs in the coldest months are often less than normal because we aren’t using either the propane to heat, or the electricity to cool. I purchased electric blankets for all the beds on an after Christmas clearance sale, and used my kohls charge to get an additional 20%, making them each $85.00 instead of over $300! I’m hoping this will reduce the electricity cost even more, as we don’t have to use space heaters to take the chill off the bedrooms at night- we just pre heat the bed with the blanket. Electric blankets use about 1/4 the power of space heaters.

    I earned between the Kohls cash I earned, and another coupon for 20% off, I was able to get a winter coat for next year for 2 of the grandsons, for less than $30.00 for both! Their coats will be passed down to the younger 2 eventually.

    We have been eating down the freezer, making room for the feeder steer that is going to the butcher the end of March.

  60. I will be curious to see what our gas bill is for January, we had a very cold month in contrast to December. Our water heater and one furnace are gas. We have been setting the thermostat around 59, day or night. But now my daughter and two grandkids are here for two weeks from South America and our balmy 60 degree day today was cold for them. The thermostat will get turned up, but putting up with running it colder means we can do that without worrying.
    I found some clothes for these grandkids at Goodwill on senior day!
    I have been line drying all our clothes, using up all leftovers and buying marked down produce.I have been reading a nice bit of library books and so enjoyed that time. A neighbor had a sketchbook in the top of their trash, I salvaged it for a granddaughter. Some one I work for threw out a perfectly good kids vest, I salvaged that too.
    Blessings to each of you, dear ladies and Brandy!

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