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This Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

Fall arrives in a day in Las Vegas. One day this week, my children were outside playing in the sprinklers and eating homemade popsicles. Then a wind storm came in overnight, with fast, cold winds, and the high temperature drops 19º from the day before. Usually the storm comes right around Halloween every year, which I find ironic, because October 31st is also the day that Nevada became a state, and is a state holiday. The wind came a little bit later this year. I fought off the urge to turn on the air conditioner earlier this week, even though it was 83º in the house (I did turn it back on in the garage pantry for a few days, though). Now it’s chilly; I went looking for coats and jackets today.

Here’s some of the ways we saved money this week:

We had to have a repair done on our vehicle. My husband noticed that the price was higher than what he had been told to do the work, so he said something. He waited for them to adjust the price, and saved us $30 in extra charges.

I cut the buttons off of a blouse that was worn and put them in my button jar.

I mended a jumper.

I made homemade French bread and pita bread.

I made salad dressing.

I harvested green onions and arugula from my garden.

I made turkey noodle soup using homemade turkey stock.

We had several meatless meals this week (as always!) including bean burritos and bean enchiladas.

I made several Christmas gifts.

I went shopping and filled my entire cart to overflowing for $55. Most of my cart was filled with potatoes, all bought at .15 a pound. I bought 220 pounds of potatoes this week for $32.78. We will eat 40-50 pounds a week until they’re gone, sometime around February. Here’s how we eat potatoes.

I used coupons to get 2 cans of olives for free.

I watched two shows for free on Hulu.

I threw a party for my daughter and her friends using items I had on hand. We used regular plates for the party. The food was white bean dip, homemade pita bread, fig jam and pomegranate jelly, with water to drink. We poured the water from a white pitcher that my brother sent me earlier this year when Ivory was born (it came as the vase for some flowers), and we used our everyday cloth napkins. The pita bread recipe was a new one for me, and I liked it better than the old one I had made. It was much simpler. It came from this book.

I decorated using items that we already had on hand (the things I keep on the top of the piano!),  zinnias and rosemary from the garden, and some cut olive branches from my mom’s tree (used with permission). (Just a note; there are just a handful of fruitless olive trees legally allowed here; you can get one if you ask at the nursery, but fruiting olives are sadly illegal here).

I am always so inspired by all of your ideas. My two favorites from last week were these:

Tina: “I compared my grocery budget for this year with the budget for 2011…and discovered that through eating from my pantry, using the envelope system, cooking from scratch, and couponing/buying on sale, I’ve saved $5000 this year over last! Since I only recently started some of these things, I’m confident I can increase this savings by another $1000-2000 next year…if not more!”

Libby: “In preparation for hurricane Sandy, I made ice blocks filling my largest saucepans with water and freezing them. I started three days in advance and put the blocks into plastics bags and then back into the freezer. After the hurricane came through, ice was “on sale” for $3.50 for 16 pounds.”

What did you do to save money this week?

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25 Comments

  1. Hi Brandy and all,This last week was rather upside-down around here, but frugality is slowly seeping into my way of life, instead of being the fall-back option. To that effect, I looked around our home when I needed a gift for a grandmother’s birthday instead of shopping. I pulled out a free pattern sheet from a local craft store, a ball of yarn and knitting needles, and tackled my insecurities (I’m still a relatively new knitter). She is now the happy owner of finger-less mittens (gauntlets) that are decorated with embroidered flowers.I received many things gifted from my mother-in-law when she visited this weekend: vintage linens, a curio cabinet, an heirloom afghan, vintage dishes, etc. I made bread all week, air-dried my laundry (new purpose for spare room during winter when not in use :), packed lunches, ate at home all week for all meals, listened to Pandora a lot, listened to other free online talk radio, watched hulu, started another Christmas gift, utilised the library, and walked to church instead of driving. It felt like an “off” week, but that’s because this is becoming a way of life that I love instead of a corner we have been forced into. Yay! All of those seemingly minor changes meant that my husband was able to re-fund our basic emergency fund and set aside some money for Christmas, which alleviated tension in him. So, win-win! Keep making those changes, lady, they pay off nicely down the road!Thanks for the encouragement, Brandy, and for having a place for us all to share and learn from each other. I always come away with new ideas from others. Have a frugal week, ladies!Blessings,Shani

  2. Last week did not feel at all frugal at our house with the $2500 we had to pay out to remove a huge oak tree that was leaning toward the house. When tree service took it down they said that the roots were definitely dying and that it was very dangerous. They tried to sell us gutter cleaning service but my husband will do that himself as soon as the leaves are all down.I did rescue a turkey breast from my freezer that had been there for 11 months. We had 3 main meals from it and put broth and turkey in the freezer for 4 pots of our favorite soup.I mended some holes in the stroller seat with some scrap fabric and some anchor appliques that I found in my sewing supplies. I am all ready for the grandchildren to come for Christmas!I had been wanting some stuffed animals for the beds in the grandchildren’s bedroom. I found some nice ones at a thrift store for 50 cents each. I put them into zippered laundry bags and ran them through the washer and dryer with good success.Packed my husband’s lunch everyday for work.Stocked up on baking supplies with all the good sales. The store was out of the bread flour that was on sale so I got a raincheck for 6 bags that will be good into January. The same flour is on sale again this week so I will try again and if not get another raincheck. I still have 3 bags so I can wait on it and make my own sale with the rainchecks later on.Planned meals so that we eat at home.

  3. Heather, those are just sample menus. I don’t follow them exactly at all. I use them to plan my menus, based on what I have on hand. For example, I cook a turkey every month, but I only cook a ham every other month or less, depending on how many hams I have.I also don’t have eggs all the time, so I only make recipes that call for eggs when I have them.What is fresh in my garden determines a lot of meals. I can eat peaches and plums and apricots when I have them, but I don’t have apricots for 3 months at a time–just for a couple of weeks total.I can’t have salad unless it is growing in my garden, or if I have the money to go buy lettuce if it is not.I can’t have yogurt if I don’t have milk or the money to buy it (I’ve made yogurt with powdered milk but I don’t care for it).I use the menus to plan my meals. I find that it helps me to have sides planned with my meals; it saves a lot of time.There are also some meals I make that aren’t even on my menus. I made turkey noodle soup on Saturday, and then we had leftovers yesterday. We have leftovers a lot, but I don’t always know how much will be leftover, so I can’t always plan for that.It just depends on what I have. I redid my menus in January to reflect what we have and what we can afford to eat. I built in plenty of variety. I’m pretty flexible on my own meal planning; if I have to change dinner to be something faster because I’ve been gardening or sewing for longer that day and I don’t have as much time to make what I orginially planned, I’ll scrap that and make something fast, like spaghetti or stir fry.

  4. –Well, money has been extremely tight for us, so for the third week in a row we are eating out of pantry and freezer. I did have around $20.00 to spend at the grocery store this week but that was it.–Accepted a quart jar of ground vension from my homesteading, live off the land neighbors–Since there is no money, have been staying home as much as possible, it is kind of getting me down because money is not usually this tight for us but I am trying to count my blessings and tell myself that the problem is just that I’m spoiled, and plus I am getting lots done, of course lots and lots and lots of dishes from all the cooking and baking–Turned down going to a Mary Kay party, and turned down a “Nerf Night Out” at my son’s taekwondo studio–Ate great meals at home like Beef and Noodles with a roast from freezer and noodles made by me and other meals that made leftovers for lunches

  5. My husband is a public high school teacher. Students are required to take a piece of whole fruit (apple, orange, pear) with their hot lunch, whether they will eat it or not. He noticed that much of this fruit was going straight to the trash. One day he brought a box to the cafeteria and put it by the trash. He had student put their uneaten fruit there instead of in the garbage. After two lunch periods, he brought home about 20 pieces of fresh fruit for the family. He said some students took some fruit out of the box to eat later, which is great. It didn’t go to waste.He also is trying to work something out with a grocery store to bring home their discarded produce. We will use what we can and feed the rest to our chickens. This week he brought home one small box, and we were able to salvage 4 pears. After he talks to the manager and gets things set up, it should be much more.

  6. One more thing! Hubby installed insulators behind the plug and switch plates on the inside walls. I had won them in a Facebook giveaway and since we already had them on the outside walls he put the freebies on the inside walls. He said that he could feel cold air coming from every plate he removed for installing the insulator. We had always thought they were only needed on exterior walls but our living room which has 3 outside walls is much warmer after the insulators were installed. Those things are really cheap and I wish we had known what a difference it would have made a long time ago. Our living room is like a freezer all winter.

  7. Wow I hear what your saying about the weather. Last Wednesday and Thursday it was high 60’s low 70’s here, friday to sunday it snowed and never stopped. When I woke up this morning I saw blue skies and no snowfall. Thursday it’s supposed to back up to 50’s, I’m hoping to finish cleaning out my garden then.Frugal things I did this week:Cleaned out my kitchen, matched up all the storage containers with lids and got rid of everything that didn’t have a match.Only shopped for a few items to put in the fridgeMade carrot cake jamWent to our local grocery store on saturday for free cake and ice cream, my 8 yo son loves when our local store does big events.Purchased some new clothing items for my daughter at 40% off, these are christmas gifts for her.Made Koolaid, this sounds funny but I purchased a bunch a year or so ago when it was less than 5 cents a pack. But I never made any until this week. Stocked up on low carb pasta for my husband, I wish we could eat regular pasta but he’s T2 Diabetic so I always buy the Dreamfields and it’s hardly ever on sale or has a coupon. I lucked out and found a $1 off coupon and matched it with a sale.Filled my emergency water containers, checked batteries in our lanterns and flashlights. Purchased some lantern oil from walmart for our one oil lantern that I made.Last year we had a storm that brought 100+ mph winds to my area and we lost power for 3 days. luckily because we had a well stocked pantry and a gas stove we were fine with food, water and cooking. The only thing that was hard was the cold, but the family bunkered down in one room with tons of blankets and played board games by lantern light. I’m making it a habit to check our emergency items at the beginning of the winter weather.

  8. The weather was so nice Friday, Saturday & Sunday we were able to leave the heat off for those 3 days!! I had to turn it back on this morning tho. We woke up to 40 degree wet, rainy weather.I printed 6 of the $1.00/1 Lindsay Olive coupons Friday morning. I went to CVS who had them on sale for $1.00 a can and I was able to get all 6 cans for FREE!Then I went to Meijer for some groceries. I bought a box of Cocoa Puffs cereal (on sale $1.99) and the nice lady in line in front of me left behind a $1.50 off any cereal coupon making the box .49¢. MPerks had 5% off all groceries so with that it brought it down to .40¢. (original price $3.59). My grandson was so excited to see that I bought that for him! I also picked up 2 free yogurts with MPerks. I made 2 new recipes from Pinterest. A pork chop one on Monday and a pasta/pizza casserole on Thursday. They both used things I had on hand so no running to the store for a special ingredient. I made a couple changes to the pork chop recipe and it’s a keeper!!I emailed ALL about their Mighty Packs leaving the plastic residue behind on some towels & blankets. They mailed me 2 coupons for FREE liquid or powder laundry detergent up to $6.50. They were really nice about it and handled my email with concern. I went to the thrift store down the street and found a Vera Bradley wallet, coin purse and a purse all for $4.50. I also found my daughter a pair of jeans, a winter coat (she just asked for one since she didn’t have a coat to wear) and my hubby a very nice winter coat (from Hollister), me a new shirt and Ryan a shirt too. I looked for .50¢ colored tags, 1/2 off another color tag and used a coupon and paid around $18. I went to the appliance/furniture room and found a brand new bread maker for $18.00. Since it was the 1/2 off color of the day I was able to buy it for $9.63 with tax. I looked online and Amazon sells it used for $49.99! I can’t wait to make some homemade bread & rolls in it!I signed up for the FREE Cascadian Farms granola cereal sample from Box Tops For Education I signed up for all 3 calenders from Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and Live Better America Sent for the FREE Samples from:- Seattles Best Coffee from Facebook- Nexcare trial pack waterproof bandages from Facebook- Aveeno shampoo & conditioner from Facebook- Airborne from FacebookSigned up to win a Folgers coffee holiday packSent a “We Support You” card to Thank our troops courtesy of ShutterflyI used samples of shampoo & conditioner to wash my hair, cleaned with homemade cleaners, cooked and ate all 3 meals at home all week except Friday night (McDonald’s used a coupon) and Saturday night used the Applebee’s giftcards we earned from Speedway.

  9. As usual, I really enjoy reading everyone’s posts on their frugal activities. I should start a list, so that I can remember all the things I do. From memory, here is my list:1. My husband fixed the master bath shower, which was leaking badly! Only cost was the $5.14 part. 2. Air dried most of my laundry. The ones I did dry, I remembered to put a large dry towel in with them, so they dried faster.3. Purchased 4 5lb bags of all purpose flour for .89 per bag, 30 cans of assorted veggies for .39 a can, 10 cans evaporated milk for .50 a can, 2 (96 oz) bleach for .28 ea, 20 cans Swanson beef broth for .49 a can and 4lbs of bacon for .98/lb. I love being able to stock up for very little money!4. I had to place an order with Amazon, so I added 5 boxes of 36ct tampons to it at $1.76 per box (U by Kotex). These are an add on item so they limit you to 5 boxes. That is a huge savings for us – 3 chicks in this family :o))5. Purchased 40lbs of potatoes for .22/lb.6. Turned the heat off for 48 hours! Yay, for a minor heat wave.7. Inventoried my large freezer, so that I can be more efficient in planning my meals this month.8. No eating out this week!9. Called the cable company to see if I could find a way to lower our bill and managed to get $12.50 a month knocked off!10. Took advantage of some free print offers to print 150 photos for only $5.99 shipping.Thanks for all the inspiration!!~Pattie

  10. This week has been very rough- I am 5 days away from baby’s due date, and my oldest son has been back and forth to the dr’s office battling an infection in his lymph nodes/tonsils. We have had several co-payments, along with having to purchase a new tire for my husband’s truck, which was pretty expensive. But we did do a few frugal things– my mom cut our children’s hair this week- found several grocery items on clearance: brown rice, barley,couscous, pasta sauce, and a pack of ribs for my husband. I was also able to stock up on some supplies for the pantry, like coffee, chocolate chips and cream soup, with coupons, that were very inexpensive. – we thought we were going to have to call a repair man to fix the thermostat on our refrigerator, but my husband was able to reset it and it seems to be working fine.- fixed a pair of my son’s shoes that had started to come apart near the toes, and now he will be able to continue to wear them for a little longer(there was no problem with the soles of the shoes or anything)-Used a gift card to purchase some last minute baby items that were needed- working on eating all leftovers and eating from pantry- my mom had some extra canned goods that she did not want to keep, so she gave them to us for the pantry

  11. Do any of you have a Food Town near you? I’m not sure if it’s only a local chain around the Houston area or not. But they have great prices. The only bad thing for me is they are a bit out of my way so I hit them up when I’m in the area and am ALWAYS pleasantly surprised! When you speak of Winco (which we don’t have) Food Town always comes to mind (: !

  12. Ooops…my last comment was a bit OT. I always list my “Frugal Five” on my blog, lol! http://www.TJsSweetHome.blogspot.com We are in a different season of life than Brandy and many of her readers so our frugal may not be your frugal. BUT when I was a single mom of two boys…boy howdeee! I could make pennies cry for mercy! Have a great day y’all!

  13. Eating later is great advice! Sometimes on my way home from work, I am so tired that I just want to order pizza….but if I sit down for 20 minutes, I feel refreshed enough to make dinner. And no regret or guilt about ordering pizza. We have recently made eating out a special treat instead of the norm like it used to be.

  14. And as someone who has worked in many a restaurant, you might just be better off not eating out! Like I always told/tell my kids when they complained of finding a hair of mine in their food (hey, it happens. lol. Or underdone chicken or any of the myriad things that can go wrong in {my} kitchen) wouldn’t you rather it be yo’ mama’s hair than a hair from who knows who/what/where?”I have seen things I wouldn’t want anyone to know about happen in restaurant kitchens. And on the floor after serving food (used band-aid under your pork chop? Oh my! How ever did that get there? Sooo embarrassing. But true.Still wanna eat out? (And no they’re not all like that. But stuff DOES happen. I’d rather it be my “stuff”) ;D ~TJ

  15. Tommie Jo…”make pennies cry for mercy”, that gave me quite a chuckle…I will have to remember that one! God Bless You!

  16. Wow! Thanks for explaining. I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself “to plan”. I can use a little flexibilty in my life! Ha,ha,ha. ~Heather~

  17. Hi! This week I took my children to a garage sale .It was so cool. I was able to get an educational geography game set for $2.00. I have never seen anything like it .But it is working out great with homeschooling .My children are learning geography facts about other countries and cultures.I took my children to an Asian Festival this Saturday.It was call the Festival Of the Lights. An Asian cultural society group was putting it on in Erie.My family watched for several hours as these Asian dancers danced. .The event was free.I have been looking for cheap turkeys and the cheapest price I can find is 58 cents a pound but must spend $25.00 for other things at the store before I can get the turkey for that price.I bought food at the store that was on sale and spend $25.00.I was happy.But I am looking for a store that has turkeys cheaper than 58 cents.Pat

  18. What an awesome idea of buying socks for the homeless shelter. Imagine how much of a help it would be to them if more people used the coupons to buy small items. Great idea!!

  19. This is one of my favorite things to read all week! I’m always checking back to see everyone’s comments. This week:-I received a ton of free samples in the mail. I got some free deodorant, toothpaste, baby wipes, tampons, Emergen-C, and fruit snacks. It’s so nice to get these in the mail to make my money stretch further.-I combed the clearance racks at Gymboree since they were having a 25% off the entire store sale. Found a set of summer pjs for my son for next summer for $4 in the next size up. Yes! I know he will have grown out of all the ones we had for this year by next summer. That boy grows like a weed, so it was nice to stock up early.-I used a 30% off and $10 Kohl’s cash to get my boyfriend a Christmas gift. It was already on sale from $100 to $70, so I only paid $39 for a gift that I expected to pay $100 for. Woohoo! -Ate almost completely out of our freezer and pantry. I made a menu plan that we only needed a few items for. It also made room in a freezer to stock up again when we have some extra cash for groceries.-When I did go to the grocery store, I used coupons to save at least 50% including five free packages of noodles for my boyfriend to eat when he works nights (he’s a bartender).It was a great week for us. Hope all of you had a good one, too!

  20. Question about the potatoes. How do you keep them that long? When I buy potatoes, they maybe last two weeks. That was an amazing price! I’ve never seen them for less that $.49/lb.

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