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Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

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My utility bills came (gas, water, and electric) and I found that everything I had been doing to use even less than I normally do paid off in a huge way. Compared to what my bills usually are for January, and what I paid for December, the savings was huge. I saved $110!

What I changed in January:

I kept the heat at 65º. In past years I have gone up to 66º or 67º F. When it became warm in the middle of the month, I turned both heaters off completely. January is normally my highest usage month for natural gas, and I can expect a bill between $90 to $110. My bill was $51!

I have been making it a point to use less electricity in my bathroom and bedroom (I mentioned previously that I was using less light while showering), and I have been unplugging the laptop and using the battery instead of having it plugged in. I think it uses a lot less than the desktop computer I had previously. I’ve always been diligent about turning off lights, but making some changes paid off with a bill that was $35 less than December’s bill.

I’ve been continuing to save water from the shower both while it heats up and while I’m in there (I keep a bucket in a place where I’m not standing) and I’ve been using that to water plants outdoors. I’ve also been making sure to have a child take shorter showers and I’ve been working on taking shorter showers myself. I also watched the needs in the garden very carefully, only watering when needful (we had no measurable precipitation for close to 50 days, but the cool weather would keep what I had watered wet for a few days). The water bill was $34 less than December’s bill. I will be continuing to watch to see exactly what the garden needs as the weather warms.

I did not plan to shop last week, but I decided to do so to use some store coupons. I was able to use $45 in store coupons. I purchased most items on sale and combined trips to save on gasoline. Among the items I purchased were a 25 pound bag of oats for $14.75 (the store had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon, which made that price–which was not a sale price–even lower) and a new anti-siphon valve to replace ours that had broke from the freeze we had in December (the valve was on sale and the store had a $20 of $60 coupon–the valve was $60 on sale).

We enjoyed a trip to the top of the Stratosphere for free on Friday. They were offering free weekends in January to locals. The normal price would be $100 for us to go up! We could see the entire valley from there, and enjoyed pointing out different places to the children. It was really neat to see the airplanes take off so close to us (we could see the runway and then the airplanes as they turned, quite near us).

I used my referral credit from One Kings Lane to order a pedestal-style bowl that was exactly what I wanted. I have been searching for one for years at garage sales after seeing one in Victoria magazine years ago. They had a free shipping offer going as well, so it cost me nothing out of pocket! I have found some great deals in their kitchen items sales; right now they have some great prices in their Kitchenware for the Happy Couple sale.

Because I need a place to put this bowl, I went through a couple of cabinets and decided to remove a few things that I am not using and add them to the growing garage sale pile that I have been making.

I organized a drawer and pulled out several items from it to add to my garage sale pile.

I dug a sucker from an apple tree (it is semi-dwarf stock) and took a bud cutting from my Asian pear tree. If the union grafts, I will be able to grow another tree from it, which I will espalier. I am going to make a few more of these in case this one doesn’t take, in the hopes to have 2 viable trees to espalier for the front yard, bringing my total to 10 fruit trees in the front yard.

We celebrated a son’s birthday at home. I made him some chocolate frogs, chocolate Lego men
(he wanted to decorate his cake with the latter, so he did), and a pair of pajama shorts from an old sheet that had belonged to my mom (it was his new favorite color so I used it). His siblings made him some things and did some of his chores for him as well. I made him a cake according to his specifications and let him decorate it as he wished.

My husband was given some matches and some heavy duty shelves from someone who is moving. He is going to put the shelves up in the garage. We had a few shelves there before but these are deeper and taller and will give him more shelf space.

What did you do to save money last week?

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25 Comments

  1. On further reflection, there were two years when I would occasionally eat out at the Museum Cafe (a $4-$5 meal). It was a rare thing, and in order to be able to afford to do so, two days that week I would only eat 2 pieces of toast for breakfast in order to have the money to go one time. Yes, I was hungry those days, but I did enjoy a particular pasta salad there (which I later replicated to make for my family!)

  2. Someone just made an interesting comment on Money Saving Mom’s Facebook page that I found really interesting.She said that by taking her lunch to work every day, she saves enough money to make her car payment!

  3. mdoe, cat food is higher in fat and protein than a dog needs, so an old dog with old kidneys probably does not handle that excess the best. My son in law is a large animal vet so I asked him. He said try and keep the dog from snitching the cat food on a regular basis.

  4. Utilities are really hitting everyone hard this winter. I have had family and friends talk about how propane has doubled in price since November. With all of the extremely cold weather they’ve had, many have had to refill their tanks and really paid a steep price! It’s so nice to see you point out what a difference a few degrees change on the thermostat makes on your bill.Since it’s been cold, even in Texas, we have struggled to keep our house warm. Our house has been averaging a temperature of 66 degrees inside and we are all electric here. I am home all day and have to work from the computer most of it. I have found that if I run my portable electric fireplace in my office with the door mostly shut, it is really comfortable in there. My parents do the same in Illinois by shutting off parts of the house they don’t use in the winter. They don’t have central heat/air so it doesn’t cause any issues. It is also good to keep closet doors shut to reduce heating bills. This week I went to the Dollar Tree and picked up a year’s supply of birthday cards. They have really nice cards for .50 each and nice American Greetings cards for $1.00. I stick with the .50 ones since they meet my needs. I like handpicking the cards knowing I get ones that match the personality of the recipient. It saves me time down the road when I assemble a birthday gift to mail off or give away.Also, I used the USPS website to print postage for a package I needed to mail. Doing it that way is cheaper. They took .50 off of my order. The thing I like about it is that every option is open for you to see costs, weight, size, speed of shipment, etc. I was able to package my own items for cheaper than the smallest flat-rate shipping that way. I spent 5.25 to send it. I used my Amazon credit for books traded-in and a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks to buy a ravioli press I’ve been wanting to go with my pasta maker. We’ve nearly eliminated ravioli from our diets because of the cost. I’m hoping to make a wide variety now from spinach, butternut squash, mushroom and more. I like to make huge batches of things and flash freeze, so I think this will work.I made a loaf of homemade bread and soup from vegetables in the freezer. That reminds me, we have found that bulk frozen vegetables from Costco (and possibly Sam’s) are way cheaper per ounce that canned vegetables. You aren’t paying for any of the liquid like you do in the can. We found when our kids were going through their hungry teenage years we could easily adjust portions without much effort or added expense. I like how good they are for stir fry over rice too.I made my own batch of Thieves essential oil blend. I found the recipe online. Since all of the flu, colds, and sickness is going around I have been diffusing it in my house. I had all of the essential oils on hand but the rosemary. I just went out and snipped a sprig of that and threw it in to be diffused.I found a pair of “brand new” leather boots at Goodwill for myself for 4.95. Surprisingly, there was a special sale on all items with yellow tags (new items donated by Target) and that is how I got them so cheap! They are brown leather with a buckle on the side. I rarely see that kind offered at Goodwill.I went to our local feed store for chicken feed. I am always happy to shop there because I get 50# laying pellets for 12.00. If I went to a big box store I would only be able to 25# for that price. Feed stores sell all kinds of stuff from gardening supplies, dog food, baby chicks, ducks, geese, mulch and more. The prices are worth checking out. Our feed stores are all locally owned and they appreciate the business too.I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s accomplishments this week. 🙂 Stay warm!

  5. It has been really cold here as well. Brrr.* had a $25 credit for a clothing store. Bought my son some jeans in the next size up. He is slim and pants are really hard to find second hand* trying to use up the misc items in the freezer ~ used up a few blueberries and some hamburger buns* planning my grocery shop for later in the week* was able to get a couple free lightbulbs at Rite Aid with sale, coupon, UPR’s* making good use of the library :). My 10 year old saw some books in the book fair flyer that I was able to request from the library!

  6. I found that cloth diapers didnt save money when I included the cost of water, electricity, propane to heat the hot water and detergent in the calculations.It is cheaper for me to buy diapers (taking advantage of sales and coupons) than to wash them.

  7. If there are deer, the fence will need to be 7 to 8 feet tall. It is worth doing a lot of research and talking to your neighbors and the garden club in your area.

  8. Thank you brandy…I wouldnt have thought to use chicken wire as a underground barrier. Andrea, i would love to speak to my neighbors who have the garden but they dont speak english. Lol. We use ALOT of hand movements. I will have to see if I can find a garden club. Adriana

  9. Hello. I listed my frugal accomplishments here on my blog: http://www.lifeasmrsemerson.blogspot.com/2014/02/frugal-things-i-did-last-week.html I started this new blog this week instead of paying to add more space to my wordpress blog. (I’ve written on here before as emersonfamily.) Now that our new baby is 3 months old we are back to almost all our frugal ways. This past week I added in making bread and dairy products. I made a batch of yogurt and a batch of kefir.

  10. Did the usual of recycling, using up leftovers, hung laundry to dry (inside on racks), used wood stove to supplement heat, found .10 on ground and .25 in laundry. Youngest back at University this week so carpooled with her. Only went grocery shopping once used reusable bag so .05 credit to bill. Sold another batch of books/textbooks/CDs/DVDs at used book store and got $65.00. The children have down loaded most of their music leaving the CDs behind…they said go ahead and sell them. I also cleared out some cookbooks. I collect cookbooks and people know that so I am always being given them when people are trying to clear out their own collections. (I would not sell ones I have received as presents!) If they don’t interest me after awhile I decided it is OK to get rid of them. So far the book store took all cookbooks I took there.Cooked all from scratch. Made a pineapple upside down cake, 2 pumpkin pies from pulp I cooked, banana cake with cream cheese frosting. These were for husband’s birthday. He originally wanted whip cream on the banana cake but decided after ?? years he wants cream cheese frosting. Made spaghetti pie using leftovers of spaghetti noodles, cooked broccoli, the ends of 2 containers of cottage cheese, 3 eggs, dried parsley, diced shriveled grape tomatoes, shredded mozarella, spices. Served topped with leftover spaghetti sauce. Made bagels, poppy seed and sesame seed. Made biscuits to go with another meal of the pot roast made earlier. Then took the last of the pot roast and 2 pie crusts from freezer and added some corn and peas and made into a pot pie for the last meal of it. Made blueberry pancakes with berries I froze in summer (oh so long ago). Made one loaf of white bread and made the rest of the dough into bread sticks. Made lentil soup. Made baked beans in the crockpot. Never made bb that way before. I presoaked the beans but they still took about 18 hours to cook. Is that normal?? Made potato salad. Had the bb and potato salad at husband’s birthday party on Saturday. We had roast pig for the meat dish…one of his sister’s (he has 3 brothers and 4 sisters) lives in Iowa and raises pigs and they make sausage, bacon etc. They brought it all cooked and shredded and another sister brought all the buns. Nice party…he wanted picnic food so people brought things like jello salads, cole slaw, pickles, deviled eggs etc.

  11. When our first child was born, we calculated out the cost, too. Using cloth diapers, even with cost of water, electricity & detergent, plus the cost of new cloth diapers, was sufficient to pay for the washing machine & dryer, just the first year, & those diapers went thru 4 kids. Definitely run the numbers, because it depends a lot on your energy & water costs, but for us it saved money.

  12. Andrea, you’ve come to the same conclusion as I have! (I thought you were a die-hard cloth diaper user, too). I’ve seen the “average” out there on what people are supposed to be saving on diapers per year, and I added up what I have spent on diapers (I just ran last year’s numbers again recently) and it wasn’t even a little bit close to that amount! If that was clear as mud–the supposed savings are over $1800 a year by using cloth. However, I don’t spend $1800 a year on disposables! Not even close. I found that I spend around $240 a year on diapers on wipes for one child. That amount is often lower because of coupons and sales on top of the price of store-brand Target diapers. (I use Costco wipes; a box will last me around 9 months and can be bought on sale on occasion. That is the only thing I buy there so I have my mom, who has a membership, pick one up for me when I need it, or two if I have two in diapers, and I try to always get it when there is a sale.With our high water and electricity rates, I am grateful for disposable diapers. I already do a very large number of loads per week and I found that I really didn’t like cloth diapers. I tried hard to, but I didn’t. I am grateful to live in a day of disposable diapers and menstrual pads!

  13. I love that someone else marks the laundry cap. I put marks where I want my husband to pour to (he likes to do laundry) and it saves a LOT of detergent, compared to the full cup he’d been using. I also used red nail polish to mark my tube of moisturizer in the bath. I seldom have on my glasses in there and can’t tell the cleanser from the moisturizer which meant I wasted product. That dot of red polish is very visible even without my glasses! No more waste. Recently I put my shampoo in an old pump bottle which cut down on the ‘extra’ that would come out when I poured shampoo. One pump, shampoo hair, done.

  14. You’re getting a good dose of calcium from that water used to boil eggs. I don’t drink hot tea but do save my egg water for my plants. They love it! Especially the orchids, African violets and roses.

  15. Cecile, why do you find pho expensive to make at home? I have a Hmong coworker and she did a series of classes for the Home Ec students. They did pho, fresh rolls, spring rolls, Pad Thai, sticky rice with coconut milk. Pho uses a pretty cheap cut of meat and you can buy the spices in bulk. Plus it makes a lot!

  16. I just made cabbage soup with the cabbage harvested from the garden. My first time ever and it is delicious! I had all other ingredients on hand from the pantry.I received a big bag of children’s hand-me-down clothing and shoes. All in great shape.Hubs had a deer processed. His first deer ever. He did splurge and get some sausage made up but still, 50lbs at about $2.50lb. I’m guessing that sounds good, right? Deer chili coming up! All other ingredients are already found in the pantry.

  17. We found that commercial deer processing was way overpriced. My husband taught himself to clean and field dress deer to get it on ice right away. Quicker processing results in no gamely taste at all. We have a grinder to make hamburger and we cut the rest up in various ways. We are now learning to make our own sausage. Where there is a will there is a way.

  18. A little late to this party, but I wanted to thank you for all the tips. Also wanted to let you know you are actually doing something frugal but did not count it. If you keep your laptop plugged in all of the time when you are using it, the battery will stop being able to hold a full charge. Eventually it won’t hold a charge at all. Then you will have to replace the battery sooner rather than later on down the road. It is also good to every once in a while run it down almost all of the way-then give it a full charge before using. It increases the battery life. Hope this helps.

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