Pansies in Black Urn The Prudent Homemaker

I spent all week working in the garden each day, tidying it for planting. I pulled out dead plants, pulled weeds, spread manure. and pruned.

I planted seeds in the garden for beets, green onions, snow peas, Armenian cucumbers, spinach, and lettuce in the garden.

I began my birthday gift list for 2018, starting with moving several items I didn’t make for Christmas to the birthday gifts list. I already have fabric for these.

My efforts to save energy and water resulted in my utility bills (water, power, and gas)  all coming in significantly lower than normal for this month. Our warmer winter should mean a lower heating bill too; it’s been 10 to 15 degrees warmer than usual, which means we’re rarely running the heater. It was so warm last week that I even opened the house for a few hours several days.

My daughter downloaded six free songs from the library.

I downloaded and read four e-books from the library.

What did you do to save money for the last part of 2017?

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  1. I regifted some nice new gifts I couldn’t use. After Christmas I got some new ornaments half off at Walmart. I also found out that my tree lights had a fuse and that could be why lights don’t work sometimes so I will try to fix that. I found some flower pots my neighbor had thrown out which I needed. I tried to use up some coupons about to expire at the end of the year. I’ve been using old bananas for shakes since I was given banana bread for a gift. I try to stay home so I won’t spend money.

  2. We, Mid-westerners, are in a deep freeze. We aren’t outside at all. We have saved on our heating bill by opening the blinds on the south side of the house during the day time and turning back the furnace. Baking has helped to keep the kitchen warm. Games, library books and movies have provided entrainment.
    I nearly spent money on a personal planner when I remembered the bank offers those free each year and wall calendars are available from our insurance agents.
    It is time to gather financial papers for taxes and review the family and business budgets as well as complete an inventory.
    An engagement was announced in the family during the Christmas season so a beautiful and financially responsible wedding is in the works. I would appreciate helpful hints. The wedding will take place in the fall of 2018.

  3. Happy New Year! Nice to hear you have your garden started, Brandy. We hope to get ours planted this month also.

    I had a pretty good week. I am more than ready to get back on the frugal wagon.

    • Used free tea, coffee and toiletries, washed ziplocs, etc.
    • Had leftover roast and gravy on Christmas, so I froze those.
    • Received a gift card for a brewery/restaurant here in town. I have a few gift cards that we haven’t used that we will use starting in January. I am determined to stick to our budget in 2018.
    • Found a spatula and 2 Christmas dish towels on clearance. I paid $2.18. I will put one of the dish towels and the spatula in my daughter’s stocking next year. I keep a plastic bin in my closet to store all of my gift finds all year. Also, each year I give my kids an ornament. Found all 4 I need for next year on clearance. Also on clearance I got 8 Glade candles (regularly $3.99 for 37 cents each after 75% off and having coupons) and stuffing for next year’s Thanksgiving at 75% off, so I only paid 50 cents per box. The expiration date is 2019. Also got assorted dented canned goods on clearance.
    • My niece LOVES Christmas. 12 months a year. Seriously. Her bridal shower was Christmas themed, even though it was in July. We travel to her part of the country regularly and stay with her and always give her a hostess gift. I decided to find stuff on clearance to use for her hostess gifts. I found a cute gift set of a pot holder, dish towel, spatula and Christmas ornament cookie cutter. Only cost me $3.24. She will love it! Also found a candle holder that was Christmas clearance, but will match my daughter’s décor for $3 and a Star Wars Hot Wheel for my grandson for next year for $1.50. It feels good getting a jump on next year’s Christmas already!
    • Safeway had a boneless NY strip roast on sale for $3.97/lb. I got one and we sliced it into steaks. We were able to get 16 – 2 serving steaks out of it, which worked out to less than $1.50 per serving.
    • My friend brought us back some chocolate covered macadamia nuts and a Hawaii calendar from her trip to Hawaii. She also took me to breakfast, as she stayed over during a layover. We both ordered off the senior menu, so it kept her costs down. We both just turned 55 this year and are getting a kick out of doing that!
    • Paid extra on our mortgage.
    • Had airline miles that were expiring so I got 3 subscriptions for me and 2 for each of my kids and a newspaper subscription. I will donate the rest of the miles to charity.
    • Got a free package of pasta from the store’s Free Download Friday.
    • Christmas Hershey Kisses were ½ off. I will use the red and silver ones for Valentine’s Day and the green ones for St. Patrick’s Day.
    • Kept the heater off as much as possible.
    • This may not sound frugal, but it will save us money. Each year for our anniversary, we go to Fleming’s steak house. It is what we love to do and we look forward to it all year. We bought $200 worth of Fleming’s gift cards at Costco and saved around $40. Plus when we went last year, we received a $25 gift card from the restaurant, so 2018’s $200 anniversary dinner will only cost us around $135.
    • Set up 2018 budget.
    • We received a large bottle of vodka as part of a white elephant gift exchange. I will give this to my Dad for his birthday this month. Also got some items that I will use in a different white elephant exchange next year.
    • Hubby didn’t go to work this week so we saved on his lunches out.
    • Made mincemeat tarts for Christmas. I almost bought small tart pans on line, but found I can use canning lids and rings in place of them. They worked perfectly!
    • Continued to get Ibotta rebates for things I would be buying anyway. I am going to save them all up and use next Christmas for gifts.
    • I’ve started saving all of our aluminum cans. With all the holiday events, we got quite a few. I will take them into recycling next week.
    • After Christmas morning, we saved all the gift bags and bows to use next year.
    • Refilled my dishwashing soap container and diluted it by 1/3.
    • Refilled my foaming soap dispensers in by bathrooms by using liquid soap I had gotten for free and diluting 5 parts water to 1 part soap.

    Have a wonderful week!

  4. We have been enjoying warmer than usual weather as well, Brandy — still much too cold for gardening, though.
    We had a lovely, quiet Christmas at home. One of my favorite things is being able to call family and friends and talk for free – I remember the days when all those calls would have entailed hefty long-distance charges.
    I cleaned out my closet and took a large bag of clothing to the local humane society thrift store – one last deduction for the year.
    I’ve made a meal plan and think I can get through January without buying much.
    I saved all the citrus peels from the fruit salad I made for Christmas dinner and put them to soak in vinegar to make a cleaning spray.
    I’m sprouting some seeds and plan to use them on sandwiches.
    I made homemade wool wash to launder my hand-knits.
    I covered a box with some scraps of suede to use to store my dog’s toys.
    Our dishwasher broke and my husband diagnosed the problem and ordered the part to fix it. He was able to make a temporary repair so that I can still use it.
    We stayed home all week, only making one trip to the post office.

  5. 1. Froze leftover Christmas goodies before my mom threw them out
    2. Scavenged broken off tree limbs at my parents house to use for kindling
    3. Found a nice winter coat for my son at the thrift store for $4.
    4. Renewed my Amazon Prime membership. It actually saves me money in the long run on free shipping alone and keeps my husband happy being able to still see his favorite tv shows/movies…much cheaper than cable:)
    5. Decided to try and not buy anything brand new this year (thanks to the Non Consumer Advocate for the wonderful idea) and listed it as one of my 2018 goals on my blog, so that I have to be accountable each month…here’s hoping for success!

  6. Happy New Year!

    Frugal accomplishments last week:
    -cooked all meals at home, updated my freezer inventory for use in meal planning.
    -made a dish to take to a New Year’s Eve party rather than buying pre-made food
    -used electricity on off peak hours to reduce costs
    -reviewed our 2017 spending and created our 2018 budget (I find it amazing that I was a bit lax in spending in December on small items but they really added up. It is truly amazing how easy it is to spend money once I decided I had a bit of extra to spend….another lesson, but our year overall was a okay so this extra spent won’t hurt us, just taught me a lesson I apparently needed to re-learn).
    -cleaned out a closet and took a batch of items to Goodwill before the end of the year

  7. I finished a Christmas gift for my 13 year old daughter by recycling some old jeans of my son’s into a tote bag for her to carry her music books to lesson in. So the denim was free, and I bought exactly enough music fabric using a coupon to line the inside of the bag. Scraps were turned into some flowers for decorating the font, and some flower buttons were bought also with a coupon and I now have some left for another project sometime. I have pictures of my project over at my blog at:

  8. Happy New Year! It is so hard to believe that flowers are blooming someplace in the USA. Your photo of the pansies made me smile. Such a sign of hope during this frigid winter.

    • Made swag goal x 4
    • It has been -2 at night and highs of 14-20 during the day. Using a Styrofoam tray that held sugar snap peas from the grocery store, I taped the tray onto an outside wall that had exposed wires and was letting lots of cold air into the house. Not pretty, but the air leak is gone.
    • I open up the kitchen sink cabinet doors at night to make sure heat is getting to the pipes since the sink is on an outside wall.
    • Bought new eyeglasses and sunglasses to max out FSA account while money still available.
    • While I was in a neighboring county having a mammogram, it was the closest location that had an opening in 2017 while I still had work-provided health insurance, I stocked up on shampoo, cheese, lemons, and Dawn. During the same trip, I also went to an Asian market and bought sugar snap peas, curry mix, and rice noodles. Prices MUCH lower than my local grocery stores.
    • Made double batch of pizza dough and froze half, made cauliflower au gratin, made risotto with arugula and gorgonzola. Also made French toast from stale rolls, which were left over from Christmas dinner – yummy but not pretty
    • Visited friends and brought a bottle of homemade balsamic vinaigrette as a present
    • On New Year’s Eve I took a load to Goodwill – arriving 30 minutes before they closed – and itemized all the donations for taxes

  9. I’ve been sick for 4 weeks (since starting a new job at a preschool) which has kept me home a lot more than I would normally be. That is the BEST way for keeping money in your wallet. The other thing that has helped is that I have scaled way back the hours put in at my other job (every other weekend bakery) which has saved $$ because I am not there to be tempted to “enjoy” our employee priced meat. Both of our freezers are full so any of those purchases would have been unnecessary. The past few days I have been feeling quite a bit better. Today my husband and I met someone in a nearby city and bought a set of 6 copper clad pots and pans for $25. When I priced just one of the pans I saw that it sold for about $25! While I do not need them, I do have two young adult children that will be setting up their own households at some point and have stored them away for that time. I also cleaned out some of my linens and put them into that same tote. Future frugal win for one of them, ha ha!
    It’s been well below zero for, mmm, I want to say a week or two now. I have kept our thermostat at about 61 and creep it up to 65 for short times, like at meal times or bathing times. I did have to put in a request for a propane fill soon but we have already set aside the money to pay for this, thankfully. Your photo reminds me that we will again see the sun and feel its warmth here…

  10. Well, turkey leftovers in their many forms. So far a skillet dish with fresh broccoli (on sale) and rice is my favorite. Tonight I’ll try turkey tacos, with homemade tortillas. There are quite a few packages of turkey in the freezer still, along with the carcass for making soup. A 13 lb turkey goes a long way for one person.

    The flowers are beautiful, Brandy. No gardening here, I’m afraid. It was minus 31 F all week long. No wind though, if we want to be positive about it. 🙂 The cold spell is breaking today, though, and the forecast is a more manageable 16 F.

    I spent some of the week making phone calls cross-country related to my sister’s illness and preparing to arrange a power of attorney. for her. They’ll be more of that this week as it was difficult to get hold of people during the holidays.

    My car has a new starter now, along with a new motor for the heater fan. Not frugal at all, other than my saving enough money to be able to do this. It is a big relief to have a working vehicle now.

    Wishing everyone a happy new year.

  11. Oooh, flowers in the garden! Here in Canada we’re in a cold freeze, which I actually like, but it does mean no gardening, so it’s nice to see your beautiful flowers!

    My week was pretty productive, I think.
    – I made a batch of Cappuccino Cupcakes (espresso-flavoured chocolate or vanilla cupcakes, topped with cappuccino buttercream and chocolate-covered espresso beans), using some instant coffee granules I had leftover from several years ago. I had bought the choc-covered beans from a bulk store previously, and the cupcakes wrappers were purchased using giftcards earned on line. (
    – I fixed a scratch on a piece of wooden furniture by rubbing a walnut into it.
    – My mother and my younger sister only wanted donations to their charities of choice for Christmas, so in order to give them something to open up on Christmas day, I created very classy black and white certificates on my computer saying that a donation had been made in their name to [charity of choice], using some holly-themed black and white clipart. I cut them out and placed them inside Christmas cards that charities have sent to me. Something nice that can be pinned on a bulletin board, and a bit nicer than printing out an e-card.
    – I downloaded a free e-book using a promo code from
    – My husband and I were sick with my annual Christmas cold, so I made a variation of Brandy’s creamy potato soup. I microwaved the potatoes so that the soup would be ready faster, and added in bay leaves, veggie bouillon, and extra carrots. Frugal and just what we needed for our sore throats and sniffles.
    – I made mini quiche using odds and ends from my fridge, and the last of the fresh onions in my pantry. I caramelized the onions, added in some eggs, milk, some leftover herbed goat cheese, and mustard powder, poured it into a shortening crust and baked it until puffy and golden. I packed some away for lunches during the week.
    – I made caramel apple cinnamon buns for Christmas breakfast, using a jar of caramel apple jam gifted to me. I didn’t have any icing sugar, so I made some in my blender using regular white sugar, and added some leftover condensed milk and water to make icing.
    – I cat-sat for cash over the holidays. The owner also gave me some food gifts, some of which I will pass on to family friends.
    – My mum was given some gifts that she couldn’t use, and so passed them on to me, including some tea (I re-gifted that to some family friends), as well as some hand soap (perfect as it’s in a foaming dispenser so now I can make my own foaming hand soap once this is used up), and some body wash. She also passed on to me a ranunculus kit that she received. This will be my yearly growing-flowers-inside-in-the-winter attempt!
    – I learnt from my mother that tissue paper can be composted. Good to know!
    – Saved all possible gift bags and containers to re-use next year. I haven’t bought bags in many, many years.
    – I bought 3 packs of Christmas cards on sale and used a promo code for an additional 30% off and also received free shipping. I used gift cards for this so there was no OOP cost. And now I’m set for cards for the next few years!
    – I baked some potatoes in the microwave until almost done, sliced them into wedges, brushed them with oil and sprinkled on a parmesan and spice blend, and finished them in the oven. And easy and quick side dish, and I served it with Christmas dinner leftovers that my parents had sent home with us.
    – I disputed a credit card charge and had a $5 fee waived.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded a set of penmanship books that I didn’t want, for a set of hand creams and an additional hand cream. I’ve set them aside for gifts. I also traded a bottle of wine that had been gifted to me, for a set of pretty pineapple-themed napkin rings.
    – I used a coupon as well as a gift card to buy some face cream; I also applied the $3 I won via stocking stuffer scratch card.
    – I took some yoga classes at home via Youtube.
    – My husband had sent away for some free thyroid pills a few months ago, and we received them this week. If Ontario at least, if you live within a certain distance of a nuclear power station, you can ask for free thyroid pills to be taken in case of radioactivity exposure. Taken properly, it essentially blocks your thyroid from absorbing radioactivity and reduces your risk of cancer after exposure. We’ve added them to our emergency supplies and also plan to carry around a single dose with us in our everyday bags. It’s statistically extremely unlikely that we’d ever have to use them, but it didn’t cost us anything and now we’re prepared.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 giftcard to Old Navy
    – I had a bowlful of apples that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them soon, but I had plans to make a fresh Dutch apple pie for a family lunch next week and wanted to save them for that dish. I thought about how I could preserve the apples and found out that it is possible to freeze apples. So I peeled, sliced, and froze them all. I’ll be able to add them frozen right into the pie.

  12. I love how you are making Fleming’s work! I too like nice things but rarely pay full price for anything

  13. That’s great that your seeing a great difference after watching everything with your utility bill. I’m afraid ours will be significantly higher this month with the extreme cold we are having. I have been checking out books at the library in order to have something to do when it’s cold. Here are the rest of my frugal accomplishments

  14. Becky, I hope you feel better soon. I drove school bus for many years and it seemed the first couple I was sicker than before. I think I had to build up my immune system being around sick children all the time. I seemed to get strong as the years went by.

  15. Happy New Year! We’re starting the new year off in frugal mode. Our lunch consisted of. Bowl of guacamole from items we had on hand instead of going out for something. Dinner will be black eyed peas and rice seasoned with our ham bone from Christmas. The leftover peas will be recycled into a soup later in the week.

    I returned some sausage I bought from Whole Foods. They were not as good as they should have been for the cost.

    I’ve changed my menu for the week to accomodate a turkey breast I bought for Christmas but didn’t prepare. My goal is to only buy perishables (milk and bread) we absolutely need until the weekend.

    Longer term, I want to use the items I have in the freezer befor I buy any more merat.

  16. Living frugally from urban Seattle:

    -We had a nice, frugal Christmas with family but had an unexpected huge car bill (a rat chewed some wires in our transmission). I had been spraying the car and yard down with some nontoxic rat spray, but ran out and had failed to buy more. Lesson learned – a little money spent on prevention can save a lot later on!

    -Besides the car bill and a few groceries, I did not spend any money this week. Before we left Portland, I did spend a Target gift card that I received for Christmas on house essentials that we were needing: a new shower curtain, hand and body soap, shampoo, wash clothes, etc. I used the Cartwheel app for additional savings and did not pay sales tax because Oregon is sales tax free.

    – For frugal winter break activities we’ve watched Christmas movies from the library and popped popcorn and ate from our stockings. We also played a new Monopoly game for several nights that was gifted to my son. We’ve done some nearby hikes, looked at Christmas lights. Yesterday, the city bus was free all day and the weather was clear so we walked around downtown and enjoyed the views out to Elliott Bay. My mom gifted her grandkids an afternoon of ice skating, which was a fun treat as well.

    – I gathered some yummy, healthy vegetarian recipes for the new year….mostly from the budget bytes website. Still working on reducing our grocery bill. Buying less meat will help.

    It would be easy to throw our hands up after that awful car bill that killed our budget this month and just spend, spend, spend. I’m thankful that our frugal habits allowed us to pay the bill without going into debt. And past experience with much bigger unexpected expenses has taught us that we can recover quickly if we continue to stay disciplined.

  17. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    -Made turkey stock with bones from Christmas turkey. Made turkey orzo and turkey rice soups(youngest can’t eat pasta). Froze half for later use. Froze a bunch of meat to make pot pies one day.
    -Got 3 hams on sale after Christmas. Aldi was cleaning them out. Made one when my sister came later in the week. Skin and fat got added to homemade dog food. Bone went into lentil and ham soup. Chopped up a bunch and made ham and cheese omelets Sunday for breakfast. Froze about 3 pounds for future meals.
    -Used gift bags, boxes, bows and tissue paper from many years of recycling. Used 1 roll of Christmas paper that I garbage picked last year(a neighbor was moving and threw out about 8 rolls of paper. I took them all.)Already packed away all of the wrapping supplies for next year and do not need to buy anymore.
    -Made all of our in house Christmas cards. Used a coupon and ECBs to pay for our picture cards that I mail out.
    -Cooked up a leftover pumpkin from Thanksgiving. Froze 5 containers. Baked a ton of muffins and sent some to work with my husband and some to work with me. My kids did manage to snag a few for themselves.
    -My daughter made chocolate spoons to give out to friends for coffee/hot chocolate. They came out so good I asked if she could make some more to add to some gifts. We had all the supplies on hand.
    -Watched my sister’s dog while she was away. When she came back she gave us an empty basket that she was given, some tea that she didn’t like and 2 magazines.
    -My son was asked to stay twice as long on a shift one day(4hrs turned into 8hrs). He called and asked if I could bring him lunch. I wasn’t feeling well(vertigo) so I told him to use my free meal I had earned. He brought lunch and dinner every other day that he worked long hours. He brought home bread several days.
    -My husband and I brought lunch every day we worked except for days that we knew we were being treated out(me 1, him 2).
    -Had a mandatory meeting one morning. They served bagels and muffins. When it was over(I was helping clean up) my manager told me to take some home. OK. Another manager had made little goodie bags for everyone for Christmas. She gave me 8 extra when I was leaving because some people didn’t take them and I always help her out.
    -My sister came over before Christmas and brought a ginger bread house kit that she got free from her bank. We also made cookies.
    -Squeezed in another doctor appointment before the year ended since my deductible was already met for 2017
    -Received many beautiful gift that are usable or consumables. No dust collectors!
    -Came in under our Christmas budget!
    -Best gift I received was my oldest was able to come home for 5 days. We haven’t seen her since July. We cooked the whole time and made all her favorites. We played lots of games and talked all night long.

    I hope everyone has a Healthy 2018!

  18. I had fun at my sons over Christmas. Everything for the holiday was paid in advance, gifts and food I brought. I did spend on trips to the discount grocer, Aldi’s, used bookstore and wallyworld. After being gone ten days, and seeing my husband for four of those days, I come home to have him tell me he’s been laid off, for all the days I’ve been gone. I was furious and extremely ticked. I spent money that I could have saved. Needless to say, I will be spending as little as possible for the foreseeable future.
    Since i’ve Only been home since yesterday, I washed out some baggies I used while gone and put away all the decorations. I pulled out some crafting supplies i’ve had forever to keep me busy for the next while. And, I ordered some books with gift cards that were a gift or ordered from CC points. I paid the CC bill online for the first time.
    Happy 2018 to everyone!

  19. *I am also separating out the colors from Hershey kisses to repurpose for Valentines and St. Patrick’s Day!

    *Right now I am “rescuing” curbside Christmas trees, in particular the short-needled firs, to place in my back perimeter beds, where the needles they drop will help keep the soil acidified. I have 2 thus far, but will gather more this evening when people place them at the curb. I also saved the peels from the clementines we ate, using scissors to cut the peels into slivers, which I then sprinkled over the soil for the same reason – to help acidify the beds.

    *Bought 12 one -pound packages of lean ground beef from the bargain basket for $1.99 each, along with three small hams (real hams, not turkey hams) for $2 each.

  20. Frugal Accomplishments at our house this week:

    I made Greek yogurt in my crock pot.

    I made ranch dressing from Greek yogurt and mayonnaise.

    I made chicken vegetable soup using green beans that I froze from the garden this past summer, frozen mixed vegetables, Swiss chard that a co-worker gave me and I froze, and cauliflower. I used homemade chicken broth too.

    I only went out once over the weekend to a potluck on New Year’s Eve. I brought olive cheese bread and a dessert.

    I made laundry soap.

    I washed baggies to reuse.

    I received 2 beautiful and sturdy gift boxes that I will reuse for next Christmas. I also saved boxes and gift bags for next Christmas.

    I received a couple of gift cards for grocery stores so I will be using those in the next weeks for our grocery needs.

    I rolled up an old towel and put it in front of the kitchen door to keep out drafts.

  21. Hi Brandy! I love the idea of gardening right now! It’s been so very cold. We did get our seed catalogs so I’ve been dreaming of warmer days and making big plans about what I’d like to plant. I’ve decided to try and hold onto as much of my paid time off as possible so that I can take most Fridays this summer off and work in the garden. It’s hard to picture with -15 degree mornings 😛 We’ve had an interesting Christmas with 2 kiddos getting sick on Christmas Eve, but it was still a nice day and we came out ahead this month! Joining in here: with our monthly wrap up and frugal accomplishments.

  22. Working in the garden sounds heavenly, especially since it’s supposed to be 8 here tonight. I know it’s far colder other places, and I feel for them. I managed a 1/2 mile walk with the pups, chicken chores, and picking collards for our New Years dinner today. Other than that, I’ve stayed indoors. I really enjoy time outdoors, so I’m missing it. I have enjoyed a little bit of daytime reading, something I can’t manage in the warm months, so there is that. Here’s to good things in 2018!

  23. An engagement is so exciting!
    I have opinions that might turn in to helpful hints.
    A wedding is one of the best parties you’ll ever have. The ceremony itself will be done in twenty minutes, so plan for simple and lovely. Ignore what is “supposed to be” at a reception, and plan with that in mind. Pick a few things that are most important to you, and minimize the rest.
    Be sensitive to the differing expectations of the couple and of the guests. Leaving the guests sitting for three hours while the bridal party takes photos between the ceremony and the reception is beyond annoying, especially for out-of-town guests. (Yes, I’ve been in that situation several times). Yet if the couple wants that not-see-each-other-ahead-glow, do what can be done to minimize the time.
    I support professional photographers and the time they have put in to learning their arts. Yet also be realistic: How often do people look at their wedding photos, which with digital photography might number in the thousands of shots? Do you really need an image of every fingernail being painted for the bride’s manicure?
    Welcome family and friends to help plan and prepare. You will run out of time in the weeks before the wedding.
    Welcome children, who will remember attending on your big day. The relationships between the couple and their family and friends will be remembered long after the event!

  24. I am never jealous of your weather in the summer, but I sure am envious now! The feels like temperature here is -31F right now. We have also been sick for a few days, so my husband and I haven’t really left the house. I did take a trip to prompt care and had to get a prescription. But I have been pretty frugal otherwise.
    – saved several bags, tissue paper, and boxes from Christmas to use next year
    – my dad gave me mittens and a warm hat for Christmas. I also received several kitchen utensils, new pillows, dress pants, new boots, pint canning jars – all things I needed.
    – my parents always put lottery tickets in our stockings. I won $17 on mine!
    – my husband’s uncle gave us a ham steak, a pound of bacon, and farm fresh eggs for Christmas
    – my dad picked me up some cough medicine and bread and wouldn’t let me pay him for them
    – I rode with my mom to the grocery store, saving some gas.
    – I spent the remainder of our Christmas budget on some clearance Christmas cards, tags, and wrapping paper. I found some wrapping paper on clearance at walmart that wasn’t really Christmas themed. It still rang up on clearance, but it will be great for my nieces and nephew’s birthday presents.
    – We ate most meals at home or with my parents. My dad got a smoker for Christmas, so he made some smoked brisket and shared some of it with us. Other meals included chili, chicken gnocchi soup, sausage and potato casserole, homemade pizza, etc. We haven’t really been too interested in eating since we’ve been feeling under the weather.
    – I added 4 containers of chili and 4 containers of chicken gnocchi to the freezer for future meals.
    – I went through all my Christmas supplies in storage to make sure they were neatly stacked and wouldn’t get ruined.
    – My husbands grandmother gave us some money for Christmas, which we decided to save.
    – We paid extra on our mortgage, bringing our total to 25.4% paid off in 8 months.
    – Saved chicken and vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer to make stock with.
    – I go back to work this week (assuming I feel better), which means we’ll be back to using gas. We were $92 under budget in that category this month, probably because I have been on Christmas break since December 15th.
    – Paid 2 bills online

    I went $9 over on my grocery budget this month, but my mom and I made several freezer meals for a recently widowed family friend and his children.

  25. Thank you! I was very glad that my daughter really liked it! And the width of the bag fits her music books perfectly!

  26. This week we had 11 of our kids/grandkids staying with us for 8 days- including 7 teenagers! I was able to feed them 3 meals a day plus snacks the whole time and only needed to buy a gallon of milk ($1.49) and a loaf of French bread. The rest of the food came from my food storage- muffins, breakfast burritos, pancakes, sausage strata,bananas, apples, oranges, juice, sandwiches, pizza, beef and bean burritos, lasagna,spaghetti! They inhaled food, it seemed!!! Lol! If I had to buy all that food at the last minute or taken them out for fast food, it would have cost a fortune!!
    I made 7 catering trays of sandwiches- chicken salad croissants,ham and cheese hoagies, roast beef on bun, PB&J for the 40 of us when we got together at our daughter’s house for our Christmas get together! Again, grateful that all I bought were the croissants- I had all the rest in my storage that I made up!
    When I got the gallon of milk at the store, I scoured the whole store and found 23 oz canisters of Sunmaid raisins for $1 and Craisins (24 oz) for $2.99! I bought 37 pounds of Craisins and 24 canisters of raisins! 4 of my daughters got some of them from me for their families. I had been almost out of Craisins so the timing was perfect!!
    I bought 25 pounds of green bell peppers for $3 so today I canned 18 pints of Sweet and Sour Sauce using them and home canned tomatoes and pineapple! I made 4 dozen banana coconut delight cookies to use up some ripe bananas and canned 6 pints of pineapple chunks to use some on sale pineapple I had.
    I made 5 soup cozies to give as a gift from scraps, 2 flannel pillowcases and a baby quilt for an upcoming shower – all using fabric/supplies on hand! No OOP!!
    Our chickens are still giving us about 3 dozen eggs/week even with this cold weather!!
    The snow and cold here have been unusually fierce but we are grateful for the home and food security that we have !
    We are truly blessed!!

  27. Congratulations to them!

    Years ago a friend of mine had a fall wedding – they decorated the cultural hall at the church with a fall harvest theme, putting piles of apples on the tables. When the reception was done, their family stored the apples at home for them. After the honeymoon they came home and processed pounds and pounds of apples into pie filling, applesauce, and apple butter – giving them shelves of canned food for their pantry. I’ve never forgotten her comment to me that they were decorating with apples, as she said “All the decorations will become food storage!” A year later they had a baby and guess what was in the pantry for when baby could eat solids! 😀 If they are really handy and focused on food storage, popcorn could be used as well – on the cob on the tables, surrounded by apples and other fall goodies, and then it could be shucked and kept for a nice treat on movie nights at home. Mason jar flower vases could be reused for canning applesauce etc. too.

    Another idea, if they are having a smallish reception and don’t have china, is to invest in some dollar store china or pick up pretty (matched or mismatched) china at thrift shops. The happy couple then has china for entertaining guests for years to come, and there are no paper plates and plastic cutlery creating waste. Really fun if the couple has a preference for eco-friendly ideas and frugal living.

  28. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia and Happy New Year to you all 🙂 .

    We have been concentrating on replacing household items that have been in service for around 10 years such as towels, sheets, tea towels and having a few for storage as well for the future. You know when you can see daylight through some of your towels it is time to buy some more 🙂 . In a couple of years we are purchasing our home so are concentrating on building up household supplies so we have nothing to purchase and then can concentrate on just paying the mortgage then.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made 1.908kg of chocolate fudge with chocolate purchased on special and homemade condensed milk for us and some for Christmas gifts for close friends saving $101.89 over purchasing the same amount in the shops.

    Gifts –
    – Managed to give all of our close friends a Christmas gift of free honey we get from having hives on our property which we packaged in a nice jar with material tied to the top and curly ribbon, some homemade chocolate fudge and homegrown garlic picked from the gardens. These were gratefully received and didn’t cost us a lot of money :D.

    Finances –
    – We rounded off our savings for our deposit for our home for last year and saved $3534.69 over our budget target for the year through being frugal.

    In the gardens –
    – Planted a 3 mt row of cucumber seeds and weeded one large garden bed.
    – Picked 800g of cherry tomatoes from the gardens saving $10 over purchasing them.

    Purchases –
    – For a Christmas treat for us as it was so hot here and we didn’t feel like cooking we purchased a chicken, 2 pkts of croissants and some bread rolls on special saving $7.91 on usual prices which we had over a couple of days.
    – Purchased 6 new Egyptian cotton bath towels, 6 hand towels and 6 bath mats on special saving $48. One set will go to replace a set that is worn out and the rest will be stored in the cupboards until the others wear out.
    – Bought 48 terry cotton tea towels on eBay using a 10% off voucher saving $82.60 over purchasing them here in the local shops. Some we will replace our present worn out ones with and others we will put away for spares for the future.
    – Purchased 5 x 500TC Egyptian cotton sheet sets on special and coupled that with a 10% off purchase eBay special saving $282 over what we can purchase here locally. One set we will put into use straight away the rest will be put away for spares as the others will wear out shortly too.
    – Purchased some on usual prices and or 30 – 50% off new year sales 2 eggs whisks, 1 lge and 1 sm Pyrex measuring jugs, 2 lge s/s mixing bowls, a set of s/s measuring cups, a years supply of cushioned work socks for me, and a pair of sandals saving $18.30.
    – Purchased a couple of years supply of underwear for me on special as well as a couple of years supply of cotton tips and makeup removal pads on 50% off special saving $26 on usual prices.

    Other general ways we saved were –
    – Watered household lawns with saved grey water from our showers and washing machine, missed one scheduled garden town watering session due to rain saving 83lts of water and only turned on our electric hot water system once for 3.5hrs as it was so hot the hot water stayed hot all week as we hardly used any hot water.

    Have a wonderful frugal week ahead everyone :).

  29. I also am still under the weather. I went to the doctor for antibiotics and steroids with my last day of medical insurance. I fell 10 days ago and my neck and back surgeries are quite angry with me. I am hoping I have not done permanent damage. It is really cold here and I am keeping my heat at 65. Hopefully this cold spell will have passed in a couple days.
    I signed up and actually used a 30 day free Kindle Unlimited membership. I have enjoyed several books and have been exploring Instapot recipes.
    I finally was offered a 30 day free trial to Directvnow and am enjoying several new shows.
    I have an old leather binder/planner that I use to use on the jobsites. I found several packets of organizer sets that are non dated tucked into it. I guess I just never got around to refilling it. I am creating a category for each area of my life and setting this up. I definitely have memory issues and I am hoping this is going to alieve many of my aggravating moments.
    I went out on a day out on the town. I bought myself a 1.50 lunch and stopped in my favorite thrift store. I added another cereal keeper to my collection for 40 cents. I also found two large square ones for 1.50.
    For some reason gasoline has shot up another 25 cents a gallon since Christmas. Being home sick has meant less driving and makes up for the added expense.

  30. We’ve stayed busy with family in town – and while it felt like we really bled money, when I stopped and looked, I realized we still found good deals and did our best. It’s just that I’m not used to all this shopping and travel all in one big chunk, and we’ve kind of been “going, going, going!” since Thanksgiving.

    Here’s what we were up to for the last week of the year:

    Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you all a year full of love, light, and laughter!

  31. Years ago I bought a couple of strings of Christmas lights on clearance and gave them as a shower gift in the spring to a cousin’s daughter.

    A friend, who tends to go overboard on things, bought 100 clear glass snack plates and cups (the kind that were popular 30-40 years ago) at thrift stores and yard sales. She bought them for her daughter’s wedding reception. Everyone thought she was nuts. At $1 per plate and cup, buying was about the same price as renting plates. But, here’s the deal…she has used them for 3 other of her kids’ receptions, and loaned them to everyone. I bought about 40 plates and cups in several different designs and have used some of them several times for company desserts. In September, I used all 40 at my son’s wedding reception! It’s true you have to wash them, but we took them home dirty and ran the dishwasher a couple of times. They pay for themselves at the first use, and are much classier than disposables. We bought the silver-colored plastic forks and they really do look real!

  32. Perfect! I wish I still had a machine. You’re still miles ahead of me even if I had one! So many talented people here.

  33. Happy New Year! We had a scaled back Christmas as far as gift giving and it was wonderful.

    I recapped my No Spend November. I also set some pretty challenging goals.

    Come by for a visit!


  34. I remembered the tip about the kisses, too, and got 2 or 3 bags on clearance. It’s one of the few things I got after Christmas. I was just too busy to shop, which may have ended up being a blessing in disguise:)

  35. We have had a very busy 2 weeks with the holidays. It was a different, fun kind of busy, though, and we managed to stay pretty frugal throughout.

    We had houseguests for 4 days over Christmas, from Saturday – Tuesday. Then, my nephew stayed with us all day Thursday until Friday night. Then, Saturday, house guests again until today, Monday. My niece took a sudden urge to sleep over Sunday night–unusual because she is autistic and likes to stay home, so we jumped all over it and had her over. She had a great time. We had several special things, like fondue on Christmas Eve, church on both Sundays, a huge family birthday party yesterday, and more. But, I put my food storage to good use, hit the sales at Fred Meyers (Kroger), made a Costco run, and picked up some things I needed from the Natural Grocery store. I got several free items, and used several coupons, some for high value. I got marked-down bread, dairy and produce. I made muffins, soup(s), and made Eritrean food with my friend, Harnet. The 2 things we made at my house were Coalwa (Not sure how to spell, but it’s basically beef, onions, and a jalapeño pepper kind of a stew) and lentils (red lentils, onions, beri-beri spice, tomatoes), so I had all the ingredients. We took those 2 things, plus rice, soda and gluten-free chocolate cake to the family birthday party. Others brought more food, and we had a great time. I probably saved $15-20 on the cake alone, as you can buy them around here, but they are very expensive. The one I made was SO good, everyone loved it that tried it, and claimed it didn’t taste gluten-free at all. I know I liked having cake for once:)

    There were incredible prices on soda this week, so I’m stocked up with both big bottles for family dinners and cans for home. One thing we’ve done over the past few months is cut off the soda and chip supply here at home for a few reasons. It has had a frugal result, as well as giving us better health. So, everyone was happy to see us haul in a new supply. So…. we immediately hauled a lot of it out to the (locked) shop where it will stay safe and sound until the day I need to use it:)

    We’ve been eating more produce from the store right now, as my garden is no longer productive. It’s too cold, with a heavy frost each morning. There is some chard standing, though, and some kale, and I hope to go check that out soon to see its it’s any good still. So, I was happy to see some marked down produce, and some sales on various things. We’ve also been pulling out the canned and frozen fruits and veggies, of course.

    We also had a very beautiful sunset right outside our door last evening, and it didn’t cost me a cent:). I put a picture of it on my blog:

    Today, I celebrated the new year by doing some chores around the house, and then having coffee with my friend from Africa. She makes special coffee by roasting the beans herself, grinding them, etc. She also made us popcorn on her stovetop, and then sprinkled a little sugar on it, making basically kettle corn. Then, she proceeded to toss some popcorn up in the air, declaring that in her country, they often tossed the popcorn they were having with coffee as part of the ceremony. And, it was a New Year, so it was time for popcorn tossing. I quickly announced that if we got to throw popcorn, I wanted to throw it, too! So, I did! What fun! Luckily, the kids that were with me were in the other room…so I got to have all the fun! That was an unexpected and enjoyable way to start the new year:). My autistic niece has fallen in love with this friend, and wanted to go to her house, so we took her and her daughter home together today, with one daughter along–all that could fit into the smaller car. We stayed a couple of hours, then I took my niece home, came home myself, and collapsed on the couch for a good rest. Because…tomorrow, the routine is starting again.

  36. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a good start into the new year!

    Christmas Day is also my birthday. My husband and I went for a nice drive to a cute little town and had a picnic lunch by the water. The food consisted of the cheap clearance treats we picked up last week. On our way home, we stopped at my in-laws house for some ice cream cake and also borrowed a DVD. My MIL kindly offered to fix a dress of mine that had ripped.

    On Boxing Day we visited some friends for brunch and brought along our leftover picnic food. Afterwards, we still had some dips and cheese left to take back home! Slight frugal fail: We had run out of crackers for all the dips we were bringing and had to buy a grossly overpriced packet at a service station as the shops were closed.

    We received a lemon, four eggplants and a bag of apricots.

    We saved all reusable gift wraps, bags and ribbons.

    The air-conditioner was on for just under ten hours total last week and we turned on the ceiling fan in the bedroom three nights.

    Except for the brunch and a cheap lunch out for me, all meals were prepared at home. We used up a lot of leftovers and free vegetables. One day, my husband had his dad over to play computer games. His mum sent drinks, snacks and fried rice for dinner.

    I made yoghurt in the slow cooker.

    My husband’s parents passed on some DVDs they wouldn’t watch again.

    We had planned to buy a new frying pan and mixing bowls during Boxing Day sales. Turns out the store was shut so we saved 100% for now. 😀

    I bought some needed cosmetics and used a $5 birthday voucher that was emailed to me by the store. We got cat litter and cotton swabs for free using a gift card from doing online surveys. I bought a packet of Christmas cards at 50% off. Bacon was on sale and on top of that you could receive 10 free hash browns if you bought at least 1kg of bacon. Unfortunately, I only received three as the store was sold out. It was still a good deal as I paid with a gift card and received triple loyalty points.

    I sewed a button back on my skirt.

    We watered from our rainwater tank and got to skip one day thanks to enough rain.

    I found a recycling bottle and added it to our bag.

    We were invited to a New Year’s party and brought some leftover soft drink from a Christmas party and sparklers that were leftover from our wedding.

  37. We had a lovely Christmas here in Australia The ham I bought didn’t go to waste I have sliced ham for rolls in the freezer and cut up ham for Quiches and fried rice. I kept a lot or gift paper and bows and ribbons to add to my pile for recycling next year. I still have ample paper as 2 years ago in Coles the paper was reduced to 5 cents a roll I bought 30 rolls which also included basic block colors for all purpose wrapping. I went shopping this week and purchased a lot of gifts for next year and Mothers Day and a couple of Birthdays. I paid 50% or more off. Very Happy.
    The apricots are ripe in the garden so later I will make jam. The plums are still a week away from being ripe. I am picking tomatoes and herbs from the garden. I have cancelled a paper fee for one of my bills so saving $2.20 a month. Picked up my chemist prescriptions to avoid paying the price increase in 2018, While using the oven over Christmas I dried out herbs and breadcrumbs to save on gas. A workmate has driven me home saving 2 bus fares. It doesn’t seem much but I really want this to be the year when money goes into the bank if I can save a few cents well good because those cents have to end up being a dollar at some stage. God Bless and Happy New Year everyone!

  38. Thanks momsav for your encouragement we are over the moon about it to 🙂 . It is amazing what you can do to save a little more in your budget by looking for specials, are opened to doing things slightly differently and examining all of your household expenditure .

  39. I am sure you are very talented! My sewing skills are pretty limited to only a straight line. But it is a blessing that a tote bag only needed straight line sewing! If you enjoy sewing, I wonder if you might be able to find a used sewing machine at a good price somewhere. . .

  40. Because of the snow and extremely cold temperatures-one record was broken near here that was older than my 94-year-old mom, we have been hunkered down at home for the past thirteen days. I will be venturing out today at last to mail things and to buy water softener salt, some paper products, milk, orange juice, coffee, fresh fruit, and a few other groceries. Staying home is one sure way of saving. I had a frugal fail though. I bought an overpriced vintage pattern for wing back chair and recliner slipcovers, McCall’s 4069, from ebay hoping to simplify the project. I was so disappointed when it turned out that there were no tissue patterns in the envelope for those two covers, only printed instructions on how to drape, pin, cut, and sew. Ugh! I have since purchased a used book from amazon com for $5.75 on making slipcovers. All except 75 cents of that second purchase was covered by the $5 gift certificate I got for using Bing as my search engine. Around Thanksgiving, I had requested information from the manufacturer on missing parts for a classic game board my sister had left here when she moved to Arizona. I had sent photos so that they could tell me which pegs would fit given the age of the board. My email was overlooked during the pre-Christmas rush. I finally heard back from them. They will be sending the missing parts for free to make up for the delay, saving me about $10. We ate the last of our in-the-house grown tomatoes yesterday in a Thai-inspired soup I made for lunch. One packet of chili ramen, 1/4 t ground ginger, diced tomatoes, scallions (also grown on a windowsill), and two heaping teaspoonfuls of peanut butter. Mom is not a big fan of ramen, but she enjoyed the soup. One packet of ramen made two bowls of soup. Earlier in the week, I made a batch of the peanut butter cookies with just three ingredients: peanut butter, sugar, and eggs. They were surprisingly good. Stay warm! (And try to avoid the flu that has hit my family is Arizona.)

  41. Congrats on the engagement and pending wedding, TJ! Here are a few frugal wedding ideas that I have. First, if you know someone who sews, it is much cheaper to have your wedding gown made than to spend thousands on a designer, cookie cutter dress. I had a beautiful, historic insipred gown made for my wedding, with a blue velvet cape for my train, which only cost a couple hundred dollars. I still love how wonderfully different it looked to all the other typical wedding dresses!
    Second, take a hard look at the resources you have available to you and use them to the max! Do you know someone who can do the wedding party’s hair/makeup on the day for much cheaper, do you know someone who can help cater the meal for much less, do you or someone you know have the perfect place to host the venue that is cheaper, know someone who can DJ the reception, etc? All of these things will help keep costs down, so don’t be afraid to pull from all resources.
    Third, think and plan well in advance! You have all summer to grow little pots of flowers to use as center pieces on the tables. Design and print your own wedding invitations (people will just toss them afterwards anyways, so don’t waste the money!). Make as many things for the wedding as you can, such as the wedding favours, gifts for the wedding party or other helpers, build or create decorations, etc. Buy strings of white Christmas lights on serious discount RIGHT NOW to use for the reception. Watch for sales after Valentine’s day for chocolates or other items that can be used on the special day.
    Fourth, think about what you already have and how you can use it for the special day. This saves the biggest amount of money for sure! Why buy special cake servers when you already have a beautiful antique set that belonged to your great Grandmother? Or maybe you have an adorable antique hanky perfect for the bride or groom to use on the day. It will be far more precious than a new one anyways! Don’t forget to ask the “In-Laws” if they have something they can contribute as well. You will be amazed what people have tucked away that never gets used, but would be perfect for a wedding!
    Finally, keep your wedding party to a minimum! The more people involved, the harder it is to get everyone together and on page with the bride and grooms plans. That is one of the biggest stressers and frustration they will deal with. My husband and I had just the best man and maid of honour in our wedding party, which I have never, ever regretted! Keep it simple and save yourself the headaches!!!

  42. Maxine, thank you for the luncheon set idea. I have three sons and this is the first engagement. Those plates would pay for themselves.

  43. I hope you will share the gifts you make for birthdays when you make them, Brandy. I always get so inspired by your sewing projects! So interesting to read about your current gardening. We’re currently in a very frigate deep freeze here, so definitely no plans for gardening any time soon for us!

    Our holiday frugal accomplishments this week included:
    *Meals made at home included Christmas turkey dinner with all the trimmings and choice of homemade peach or apple for dessert, spaghetti with choice of meat, red or white sauce and cheese optional, chicken noodle soup with optional sandwich, ham steaks with mashed potatoes, corn and coleslaw, roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, leftover mixed veggies, coleslaw and leftover stuffing, and a delicious selection of party “finger foods” for our New Years Eve dinner (cheese & crackers, deviled eggs, potato skins, veggie spring rolls, baked mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, chips & dip, etc.).
    *We snacked on and enjoyed lots of homemade baked treats as well as goodies from our Christmas stockings all week.
    *Packaged up 5 meal portions of cooked turkey and put them in the freezer for future meals. Some are larger portions for hot turkey sandwiches and some are smaller portions for soups or casseroles…all of them are the perfect starting point for 5 very frugal meals for my family! The turkey carcass was also frozen to make soup stock later.
    *The children from the school Christmas program were nice enough to give me one doozie of a cold for Christmas. Even Buckley’s got it’s but kicked with this one. Sure glad I’m not working right now. Unfortunately DD came down with the cold, too. She is unable to take any type of cold medications, due to the prescription meds she takes. The only thing she can take to help is tylenol. Pour kid really suffered with this one! Up side was that we didn’t have much of an appetite most of the week. Thankfully by this past weekend we were both starting to feel better.
    *We were invited to a Christmas Eve get together with my ex-SILs last minute and were asked to bring a gift each, $10 max., unlabled and suitable for male or female, to use in a gift exchange game. Determined to avoid a last minute shopping trip, I checked my gift stash and found my last 2 gifts were suitable. I then put together a third gift of homemade peach jelly, a can of candied peanuts and a baggie of treats. We had fun and all gifts we brought were well received. DD got a $10 gift card for the mall with a bag of skittles and hubby & I both received $10 gift cards to subway!
    *I stuck to my guns this year and did not buy for the nieces and nephews, as it was not reciprocated with my daughter last year. Surprisingly, this year they did decide to buy her a gift and a few even commented on how much they liked their gifts they got last year. Undecided what I will do next year, but I can always decide later.
    *Received lots of gift cards this year, which is nice. They will come in handy as I plan to cut back on my spending for January. My mom also bought all of us an ice cream attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. Everyone in the family, but me, goes loopy over ice cream. However, it is my Kitchenaid mixer…thus why it was for everyone. I’ve been doing some research on ice cream recipes (I LOVE Pinterest!) as the booklet recipes that came with the attachment call for 8 egg yokes, plus cream and other ingredients! I can watch for cream on sale, but egg prices have risen to $2.29/dozen here. That’s pretty expensive ice cream to make!
    *I went shopping on Boxing day with the intent of restocking my gift and candy stash, as it was completely depleted from Christmas. I found some amazing gifts, too. My favourite finds were 2 Christmas cookie jars for $5 each (50% off), and 4 small jar candle holder for $1.80 each plus 2 pint sized canning jar candle holders for $2.80 each (75% off). The candle holders hand up or sit on a table, can be used any time of year and hold inexpensive tea light candles which we have lots of around the house already! I bought some chocolates that can easily be used for other holidays (e.g. Easter baskets) and a few other various gift items that will be perfect for men, all $10 or under (I have a lot of men in my family that I’m always trying to find gifts for).
    *Hubby ended up being scheduled to work quite a bit over the holidays (he wasn’t happy about it either). Not the greatest way to get extra pay, but it is what it is.
    *We stayed home and watched free movies as a family on our android box for New Years Eve. We even convinced DD to watch Dunkirk! DD is not a big movie fan, and this type of movie is not her favourite, but I’m glad she watched this well done movie with us. It’s much easier to understand history when you can really visualize what happened.

    Overall we had a good holiday. Looking forward to reading through everyone’s comments. Happy New Year to you all!!!!

  44. I typically shop for for most of my work clothes for the year after Christmas and before New Years. I was down to one pair of work pants. I fine skirt suits at consignment shops very easily but the pants do not usually fit me. So, I took a $10 off $25 J.C. Penny Coupon, and buy one pair get the other pair free, and combined both deals to get two pair of pants, that fit. I usually buy a pair of Dansko clogs for work during this week, but I was fortunate to get a pair worn only once earlier in the year (for $40), so I did not buy any shoes this year. We are in a deep freeze in the deep South and I did not leave my outside faucet dripping fast enough. It formed an icicle and froze. Luckily, I found a hint in one of my thrifted books and used it and it worked! I put a towel over the faucet and poured a pot of boiling hot water over it. It worked immediately. Whew! I left it running as a little stream. I may have a high water bill, but at least I do not have a busted pipe! I am trying to not spend any in the month of January on groceries. We shall see.

  45. Since we had reached our $60,000 out of pocket max, we had arranged to have our daughters port removed last week, rather than in the new year. That saved us quite a bit of money. I’ve been trying to increase the amount of casseroles, stews and soups, since getting the instant pot in November. Its been working. I made turkey soup using the bones from the turkey soup on Christmas, and we had chicken corn chilli for a few days too. Tonight is regular chilli. No corn muffins. (the last time I made them, they came out to I think 8 weight watchers points each and I was over hungry and ate 6 throughout the day). I’ve also been trying to increase the amount of vegetables and beans we eat and decrease the meat. Well its been working for meals, but when the meat is in the freezer, my husband will just go in there and get it and eat it. It drives me nuts that I can use an 8 ounce package of smithfield ham for 15 meals and he can take that same package and eat it with his eggs for breakfast!!! My next idea is as the freezer gets emptied (we’re just there), to simply not buy anything untill I absolutely need it. I dont mean per meal, but to buy pork roast and cut that up and use it over 6 meals and then when its gone buy something else. I had my veggie & bean hating husband snacking on dry edamame beans the passed few days. Earlier I cooked a pound of garbanzo beans and now I have some roasting in the oven with cajun seasoning. If I can get him to eat these as a snack, that will save us some money instead of buying potato chips. The passed few months we’ve been able to turn the ac off, and that saved us some money. Unfortunately, I had to turn the heat on last night. At least that wont cost us as much as the ac.

  46. What beautiful photos! I love reading everyone’s post. How fun to have an engagement and wedding!

    Our last week was frugal mostly because I was sick! I didn’t want to go anywhere. We did a family dinner at a restaurant that we do every year. But all other meals were made at home. We watched movies, played games and had fun talking together. I love when my college kids are home. Everyone was happy with their gifts and the time together. Christmas is such a peaceful, nice day. I love having all my family around and just enjoying being together, hearing their voices and laughing.

    I love your blog, Brandi. I check it all week long. Thank you again for such a wonderful site to learn and be inspired. Best of luck to you and your family in this new year.

  47. Happy New Year to Everyone!
    Thank you Brandy for a year full of wonderfully encouraging posts. Your blog is truly a wonderful gift.
    I too, will be trying to do more with less in 2018. Costs are rising in almost every area…gas, utilities, groceries, insurance, property taxes and on and on it goes. I am trying to find a way to cut enough costs to cover the utility bill. This will be a challenge as I have our budget down to the very basics already.
    I made a pot roast for seven people over the holidays. I used carrots and garlic from our garden. I found potatoes on sale. This isn’t something I normally serve so I wasn’t sure if my family would like it or not but they loved it and ate every bite. The pot roast itself was kind of pricey but I think I will incorporate this into the menu about once a month.
    I shared earlier that Christmas shopping was a very stressful experience for me this year so I plan to work much harder at buying gifts throughout the year. I did buy both my adult children nice vaccum cleaners for Christmas this year which were expensive but both kids are very grateful and can’t believe how much easier cleaning is now. It was nice to be able to buy them something they can use for years to come. This was the first time I have ever been in a position to buy them something that expensive and it felt very good. One year my parents were able to buy me a freezer for Christmas and that really helped my family for years so I was happy to do something like that for my kids.
    I will be sharing all the ways I can think to stretch every dollar in 2018 and look forward to reading everyone’s efforts to do the same.

  48. Being frugal at Christmas is a balancing act for me. My husband loves it when I am frugal with the things in the budget that I am responsible for; like groceries, homeschool supplies & kid stuff, but he doesn’t like to be frugal with the things that are for him or that he thinks reflect on him like gifts. I shop all year for gifts for the kids, but when we get to December he wants to buy more so the kids can have “tons” of presents under the tree. He also loves his traditions, so I have to modify what I can and budget for the rest.

    For example he loves to have fresh raviolis from the Italian Delicatessen in our town. This has been the “family dinner” in his family since his grandparents time. He wants them for all special occasion dinners, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving Eve (which I can’t convince him is not real) anniversaries, birthdays & graduations; the problem is they are really expensive, and you have to wait in line for 90+ minutes to pick them up. I have convinced him down to only Christmas Eve and we only buy the ravioli & I make the sauce for about 1/4 of what they sell theirs for (and mine is better)

    Another example is he wanted to wait until all of our college kids were home & take everyone to the new Star Wars movie. We live in a big city so weekend/ evening movies are $13 for regular and just go up from there. So I convinced him that it would be super fun to go on the day after Christmas which is “cheap Tuesday” and all movie tickets were $6.50 and that it would be fun to go to the fancy part of town to the theater with the heated, reclining leather seats. I also watched the thrift shop all year and managed to get everyone a Star Wars t-shirt for between $1-$5. Even me & I never wear t-shirts, but it will work to sleep in.

    And finally there is a movie coming out in 2018 about the history of a local landmark (Winchester Mystery House,) and the kids have been begging to go to take the tour, but it is expensive. My older kids each went once when they were brownie scouts and my younger kids haven’t ever been, so we waited until there was a Groupon and paid for the much less expensive Monday-Thursday tickets. I printed a picture of the place on a piece of heavy paper and then cut it into puzzle pieces so they all had to put it together on Christmas morning to figure out what the present was.

    Other than that I feel like I cooked and cleaned solid for a week so that everyone could eat all their favorites and enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t get a ton of rest but I love it when my kids all play games together & have fun particularly now that 1/2 of them are in college and the rest are all teenagers.

    My Food Maxx had turkeys for $.29/lb and Safeway had bone-in hams for $.79/ lb. I was actually glad when I saw that Safeway was out of the hams, so I got a rain check for up to 6 that is good for 90 days. I should have room for a few in next to the 4 turkeys that I bought by the end of the month.

    I hope that 2018 is bright & happy for everyone & I am so thankful for all the tips & encouragement I find here.

  49. Oh I forgot one! Our Safeway had 2lb bags of shredded cheese for $3.88. Any kind of shredded cheese, but you could only get 2 bags/ Safeway loyalty account/ day. This is even lower than the $5 price that I watch for or the $11.99 for 5lbs that I can get at Costco. So yes, I went in and bought 2 bags of shredded cheese every day for the 3 day sale. I took exact change so I wouldn’t buy other things I saw. I now have cheese for pizza and tacos/ burritos all packaged up in the freezer, and I didn’t have to shred it myself. 🙂

  50. Congratulations Lorna on exceeding your savings goal for your house in 2017! Can’t wait to continue to follow your house buying journey this year!

  51. Has been a busy month of December and then poof gone!

    Very cold here in the Midwest. 30 degrees below zero. Glad we heat mainly with wood. Helps keep the cost down as we get wood for free or very cheap. Dreaming about garden in the spring and eating out of the freezer.

    Made turkey noodle soup, fried walleye ( hubby went ice fishing) and hash browns, chocolate applesauce muffins, Stromboli, sloppy joes, Asian coleslaw, five grain bread, sauerkraut noodle hot dish, and quiche. No money spent on groceries this week. Will need to get milk and some lettuce this next week. Last week got butter for $1.98/lb. limit 4 so bought 4.

    Stopped at Hobby Lobby today and shopped Christmas clearance-90% off. Spent $20, got 8 containers for treats for next Christmas, a snowman decorating set and hat for the grandkids for when they make a snowman, several dish towels, a crystal bowl shaped like an ornament, gift tags, stickers ( again for grandkids), bows, crystal angel, Merry Christmas banner, several Christmas stockings, and a set of netting lights. Will use ornament bowl, Christmas banner, and crystal angel for Christmas gifts for next year.

    Hope to do some canning in the next couple of weeks, I have food in freezer that needs canning. Raspberries for jam, tomatoes for salsa and spaghetti sauce, and kraut in a crock that is almost done working.

    Happy New Year and stay warm!

  52. What beautiful pansies!

    I haven’t been good at writing things down (was busy w/ holiday activities and then came down with a cold). I’ll enjoy reading everyone else’s comments and then get back into the swing of things next week.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  53. Thank you also for your encouragement Lynn it is greatly appreciated 😀 . We are hoping to try and outdo that accomplishment this year but we won’t count our chickens before they hatch and will just maintain our being frugal and checking prices on everything we need to purchase and buy at the lowest prices we can find.

  54. Congratulations on the new baby Brandy & family!

    The week before Christmas, my husband and I went to do our Christmas shopping. I had a coupon for Bath and Body Works which included a free full-sized item from their regular line. I got myself a bottle of lotion which retails for 12.50 and didn’t buy anything else in the store. Then I gave the clerk the 20% off coupon I wasn’t going to use to give to another shopper.

    My mom cut my hair.

    Got several free magazines in the mail thanks to Recyclebank.

    I’m in Grad School online to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. For Christmas, my parents gave me a $200 Amazon gift card with which I bought books for school.

    Stayed home on NYE and saved a LOT of money!

    Watched Netflix and Hulu shows–still cheaper than a movie or cable TV.

  55. A girl in our church just got married in December. To keep costs down, she asked several people to help, drawing on their talents. For example, for favors, she asked me to write the quote she was using on the tags with a calligraphy pen instead of having them printed. (I have a pretty decent handwriting). For her favors, she did the following: She cut out the shape of Mississippi, (where she is from) and the shape of Ohio, (where he is from) from scrapbooking paper in her theme, that she bought whenever it was on sale. She had me write a quote on them and then, for Mississippi, she hole punched and threaded a honey filled straw through it. (She loves honey and her quote said “Tis so sweet of you to join my honey and I” with their wedding date and names.) For Ohio, she tied a “buckeye” peanut butter ball to it that she had made herself. She had about 25.00 in 300 wedding favors.

    She handmade all of her corsages, flowers, arrangements, etc. and it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen.

    Don’t be afraid to call on your talented friends for help. It was a pleasure helping her make her day special on a very small budget, as she had to pay for the wedding herself.

  56. A couple tips from my own wedding- 26 years ago! You dont have to feed a bunch of people a meal, the guests are coming to eat, they are coming. to celebrate your big day! We had a 2:00 pm saturday wedding, and served cake, punch, and coffee. We had one attendant each. My SIL took the pictures. We had ONE alter arrangment, and I carried a singe stem rose with babys breath and ribbons. We only invited family, to reduce the number of people. I bought a “once used” dress- with craigslist, FB sale groups, thrift stores, these should be easier to find these days. You only wear it once, theres no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a custom fitted dress, especially if theres a sewer in the famiy who can do minor alterations if needed. My husband wore a suit he already had, as did the best man. My maid of honor wore a foral she already had. We didn’t have a “color scheme”, or a bunch of table center pieces. The cake reception was in the church basement, we rented the china and punch bowl. I think the only new thing we purchased besides the flowers and food was a cake knife set. We ended up just as married as people who spend thousands of dollars and countless hours planning every minute detail.

  57. I “found” Brandy’s FB page this past November & started reading this blog. Not much in the way of frugalness last month.
    I did go thru my pantry so now I know what I have & will need and not overbuy as I usually do.
    i also plan to go to the supermarket only once a week instead of twice as I currently do.
    In the short time I’ve read all your posts, have learned so many new things. Thank you.
    Happy New Year to everyone.

  58. I completely understand trying to balance the budget and the hubby’s desire to spend in certain areas! For my family, I am frugal and stretch our resources where I can, talk with my husband about our goals, and remind myself that a happy marriage is worth more than money in the bank. It sounds like you’re doing a great job finding a balance for your family, and I love your Star Wars outing! Between the fancy theatre and the t-shirts, it sounds super-fun.

  59. Thank you so much for the recipe, Margaret! I have pinned it to my Pinterest board. So cheap and easy. I like that I can easily substitute any of my homemade jams for different flavour!

  60. Amy, I sliver the peels from most of the citrus fruit we eat, year round, and scatter them in the beds to acidity the soil. It works great. I have been able to snag 5 curb side Christmas trees thus far – all short needled firs – and those are positioned to drop their needles in the same beds, that need the soil acidified. Doing these 2 things works FAR better for me than adding soil sulfur, does not destroy the beneficial soil microbes, and both are free!

  61. Ahh… I’d love to be a recipient of those gifts! I have started growing some garlic the past couple of years, just enough for our use and to replant again. I’m intending to nearly double it this summer, assuming they don’t “disappear” from where they were planted. Not sure if they rotted or if a varmint got to them. Anyway, yum on all three of your goodies that you gifted!

  62. Thanks for your encouragement Becky and I hope that your garlic stays put where you planted them. Sometimes if they get too wet the bulbs rot in the ground so just watch you don’t overwater them.

  63. Discipline is the key. I had some frugal fails including eating out a lot and spending on things that are not “needs”. But I feel because I had been frugal for Christmas I can make a come back in January on my budget and goals.

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