My frugal table setting for the 4th. I did not buy the jar (I was born that year!) nor did I buy the flags; they have all come to me over the years from different people. The jar used to belong to my mother-in-law. My husband was 13 that year; he remembers buying the jars). Our only other decoration was our flag outside.
Now that I can type my frugal list for the week on Blogger (instead of Facebook), it’s likely to be a lot longer, since I don’t have to try to remember everything on Saturday night that I did for the week, but can instead write things as I do them. 
Here are the extra things we did to save money this week. . .

We enjoyed a frugal holiday at home. I bought no extra food for the 4th; we just ate what we already had. I have decided to join the Pantry Challenge over at Good Life Eats for this month, and I am not buying any food for the month. I had already planned on doing this when I read her challenge, so I joined in!

The children found some fun ways to celebrate for the 4th. My oldest decided to make a Statue of Liberty costume for herself. She followed the directions that she had read in Family Fun magazine to make a crown, only she used construction paper (which we had) instead of craft foam, as the instructions stated.

She then came up with a few more costumes:

George Washington. She followed the instructions from What Can You Do with a Paper Bag for the wig.
Martha Washington

I dressed the baby in a hand-me-down outfit that was recently given to me.

We enjoyed some free fireworks in town. We chose the closest place to home.

My husband worked from home on Monday.

I added water to a bottle of lotion and shook it up to get the last of the lotion from the bottle.This gave me a week’s worth of lotion.

I made another bottle of homemade hair detangler. This is saving me $7 a month (that is the price I used to pay for the giant bottle of Infusium with a coupon; we went through that big bottle a month). I wasn’t using the conditioner; it had been sitting on my shelf for several years. I’m sure glad I didn’t toss it! I love that after 5 1/2 years of cutting everything we think we can cut, we are continously finding new things to cut. (Last week we cut part of the coverage on our car insurance, which will save us $600 a year. We shop our auto insurance every couple of years to make sure we are getting the best deal. We also switched companies for a lower rate).

Speaking of cutting, my husband cut the boys’ hair–just a trim around the ears and in back this week.

I mended a jumper.

I collected water in the shower with a bucket while the water was warming, and used it to water my potted plants, and one day I used it to rinse my shower after I cleaned it. I also used water left from canning to water a plant.

I pinched off some succulents to start new plants. The new plants will be part of the decor in a bathroom.

I took cuttings of mint and set them to root to start new plants (my previous ones died because I missed watering the plant one day–it is that hot here, even in the shade).

I cut and froze plums from my garden so that I can use them later to make plum popsicles.

I canned grape juice and peaches from my garden. I used free sugar that was given to me from someone who was moving to Canada. I made pectin and applesauce from unripe apples that were given to me. 

I ordered 4 free 5 x7s from Walgreens, thanks to a reader who alerted me to the July 4th deal.

I signed up for a free razor.

I got a free $3 Amazon MP3 credit. I used part of it to purchase a song that my son wants. This will be one of his birthday gifts.

My electric bill came this week. Every month I carefully read my utility bills, comparing them to both the previous month and the same month a year ago. I noticed that my usage for this June was much higher than my usage for last June. Though it’s been a hotter June this year than last, I knew that couldn’t be all there was to it. I talked to the children again about turning off ceiling fans. I reprogrammed the thermostats (our house has 2; one for each a/c unit) to be 80º in the morning and 79º the rest of the day. They were set at 78 and 79º. Just that small change should make a large difference in the bill next month. I had them set at 79º last year and I had not reprogrammed one of the thermostats since replacing the battery, so that could account for most of the larger bill, as it was at 78º.

My water bill came this week as well. It was my highest ever, far, far surpassing last year’s highest ever bill. I immediately went out and decreased our watering times for the garden. I will be setting a timer for myself for the shower and I will be talking to the children again about shorter showers and using less water while washing the dishes.

I pumped each day to make sure that I keep milk for this baby. I usually have trouble with an even lower milk-supply (than my normal low supply) at 5 months. This baby is only 2 1/2 months old and it is very low (after 5 hours of not nursing, I only pumped 1/2 ounce on Monday.) The baby started sucking her thumb and is not waking to nurse every hour as my babies usually do. I am pumping diligently now 1-2 times a day to retain my milk, thereby eliminating the need for formula. My lactation consultant advised me after my third baby to pump for 40 minutes even if there is no milk; it will bring the milk in. Since then, I have been able to nurse my babies longer without having to buy formula. Today I pumped 4 ounces. I will pump again tonight to keep my supply up. If I miss a day (I missed 2 days last week) it goes back to 1/2 ounce, so I will be making sure not to miss.

We are celebrating our anniversary at home tomorrow with a nice meal from the pantry and freezer, along with some tomatoes from the garden. We will have an at-home date night for our anniversary.

What frugal things have you accomplished this week?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

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  1. I love that you have a BLOG now 🙂 just wanted to share one thing i did to bring my milk in for my 3rd baby, she was 1 month early and skin and bones…so tiny. My husband’s aunt suggested brewers yeast mixed with water and a bit oh honey, i drank this every day for a week or two….I literally had quart size mason jars in my fridge that were full of my milk for my baby {the results were immediate}…..good milk with lots of fat in it for her. Just a suggestion….

  2. Our June utility bill was really high too. It was $2.50 more PER day. It was really hot here too but I am wondering if our well pump is starting to go bad and running too much. A high utility bill is often the only way to know. I don’t think the next bill will very helpful with that as we have had day after day of temps about 15 degrees higher than our mormal.

  3. I signed up for some free bottle of hot sauce as well as some coupons I have been collecting coupons that are good for free energy bars for when Shawn gets back to work we have also decided to start k etching the bus into town instead of paying insurance on the trooper and gaswe have been feeding the chickens left over bread and one day feed them some curdled milk that they just loved they use to feed curdled milk to chicken when grain was to expensive in the pioneer days Shawn caught 2 fish this week we have only ate half of one we’ve been invited to friends places for dinner the last couple days we have been using are water hole as are fridge and it is working well for us the cheese we bought this month has stayed hard and the fish are doing good in there we bought a $1 laundry basket to put the food in and then tied a rope to the tree so the basket doesn’t float away and then it stays under water so that is how we have been keeping the food cool in all the hot water we have been having Shawn has been able to get some work mowing lawns and they have been letting me stay at there house and help with the young ones and letting me use the computer we have also been picking clover for the rabbits instead of buying pellets for them so that saves about $40 a month and they seem to love the fresh food we also are going to be continuing that into the winter for them only with box wood instead as it grows all winter but only the box wood that is not pretty enough to sell I sewed a patch onto Shawns jeans and hemmed them by hand one day that we were sitting buy the water and Shawn was k etching fish we walked to a friends house instead of drove took 1 hour but it was good exerciseI have been doing my laundry in an old fashioned washing machine that doesn’t take electrical or running water Shawn packs the water for me I have done it a couple times and then I do the work pulling a pushing the agitator and then ring them out I have lost 9 pounds without buying special diet food or going to the gym

  4. I did a few frugal things this week……1. I took my kids to the school twice this week for free lunches (our school district participates in the summer lunch program which provides free lunches to kids 1-18 with no income requirements).2. We ate Zucchini out of the garden.3. I purchased peaches and strawberries at a good price and froze them for this winter.4. I had a garage sale and we got rid of a lot of stuff and made $600!5. I also bought 24 ears of corn @ 6 for $1 and we froze those for this winter.6. I am making hot dog buns for my son’s birthday today and we pulled the hot dogs out of the freezer (bought on sale earlier). I also baked his birthday cake and some of his presents I was able to get for free and the others I purchased using Ebates so that I will get cash back.7. I received a few nice freebies in the mail this week and I signed up for a few more (I love getting nice surprises in the mail).8. We dropped our gym membership which will save us $50 a month.

  5. I have no idea what your reasons are, Mrs. Prudent Homemaker, but I gotta say that it is no one’s business. Your children are not on welfare, they are creative, and obviously loved. I am the 4th out of 5. I am now in my early 20s and my father recently shared that my parents were underemployed when 2 of my siblings were born. I can not imagine having grown up without them. and this other reader’s comment implies that I should have. Your children are not starving, they are clothed and taken care of. I am a little angry on your behave. You are a mother who obviously cares, you are sharing your personal lives and giving us great advice. Thank you for helping me to be a more frugal person.

  6. The laundry basket in the water is a fantastic idea- I’ve heard of people using a similar method in a spring house, but never in a pond. If you have access, like maybe at the library, Mary Jane Butters Idea Book has instructions on how to make an evaporation “refrigerator” that will keep things cool when you don’t have electricity. I bet if I washed our laundry by hand, I’d lose weight too!

  7. Some frugal things from this week….Used washable cloth menstrual pads sewn from a thrifted flannel sheet, a spare towel, and velcro from my stash.Made simple meals using produce from the garden and as few purchased ingredients as possible.Canned peaches from a local orchard.Reused canning lids/flats. Even though the experts recommend not reusing the lids, I have been doing so for years. (I just make sure to not bend the rims when removing the lids and don’t reuse any lids with seals that look worn or thin.)Captured water from the kitchen sink to water our most used herbs and my favorites of the flowers. (Every thing else is on its own ~ praying for rain!)Kept jars of cold water in the refrigerator to use for drinks rather than having the freezer opened repeatedly for ice-cubes. I very much look forward to your weekly frugal lists, and am thrilled to be able to read what others are doing as well!Anne

  8. I say this with respect and hope my comment comes across as such but I don’t see the Prudent Homemaker’s finances as dire but instead as creative, thoughtful and resourceful. I can only observe what is on the blog and website but it appears her family is blessed in more ways than most families are. My mother had 6 children, no money, and did many of the things that the Prudent Homemaker has accomplished. All of my siblings and I thrived and went on to college and graduated and have “successful” careers (by our standards). I am glad my parents had us and did not save resources for the older kids or I might have never been! 🙂 In addition, my mother taught me how to sew, to cook, to make things, to think outside the box, to recycle (before it was considered the correct thing), to knit, crochet, to cross stitch, to needle point, and on and on. I quit using those skills for a long time but rediscovered them when I started following the Prudent Homemaker’s website. Only the Prudent Homemaker can really answer the question but I personally do not care if a family has 1 child or 20 because as long as the children have the basics (food, shelter, education, clothing, medical care, dental care) and of course lots of love and spiritual training that is the recipe for a wonderful childhood and preparation for a wonderful adult. Just my thoughts and I hope I said it respectfully to the readers. Again, I am #5 of 6 kids and am glad my parents did not conserve the “resources” for my older siblings. 😉

  9. Your weekly frugal updates always inspire me. I just had to say that I had been wondering what the age difference is between you and your husband so I loved that you let on. 🙂 My husband is 24 years older than me, so I certainly have no judgment about your husband being 13 years older than you!

  10. realized how thankful we are for electric and also how much we waste on it due to storm outageturned thermostat up two degreeshung two loads of laundry after power came on, and one hand washed during outage (taught 17 dd how – she said that it was good to know as you never knew when that would come in handy)thought of meals twice that needed ingredients from the store but then changed them to use what we had hereran out of laundry detergent but used everyday shampoo with a little washing sodamade two quarts of yogurt in crockpotchanged elastic in boys swimshorts that I had picked up from thriftmade two quarts of homemade ice creamcombined quick stop at store with 22 anniversary dinner outmade homemade hummus with garbanzo bean flour but it didn’t turn out too well – followed directions on back of bob mills package anyone have any ideas? It’s kind of thin.printed free year planner wrong out of printer, took the time to make it right, gave extra copy to friend and used misc pages in printer on plain side (this lasted a while – I’m going to put a box by printer)monogrammed cloth napkins so that we can USE them – this took much less time than I expected and I rather enjoyed it so I’m thinking about new projectschecked out Brandy’s new blog where I glean lots of useful informationp.s. That baby is BEAUTIFUL as are all your children!Holly

  11. I saw dimmable LED light bulbs at Costco today. LED’s are more expensive but they last a lot longer and don’t contain mecury so you don’t have to worry when they break. Plus, they are completely cool to the touch so they don’t add extra heat to your house.

  12. Last week I received a free greeting card and a free toothpaste sample in the mail.My cousin gave me a free plant for my flower garden in my front yard.We went to professional sports event and found free parking downtown.I used bottles of shampoo and conditioner from hotels for six days to wash my hair.My mom gave me a free half gallon of lemonade.I brought fruit to two family meals and was able to take the leftovers home.My sister gave me a dozen leftover brownie bites :)I took my kids to see the movie Brave. By going before 11:00 am and using a gift card we only spent $5.00 total (out of pocket) for three people to see the movie in the movie theater.Jill

  13. I appreciate the sincerity of the question, and I know that the Prudent Homemaker can well respond (especially as this her blog :), but I thought I would add my own 2 cents to ponder.Cent #1- My own larger family was born of my deep religious conviction.Cent #2- The American Dream was never about the current level of greed some in our nation have morphed it to be. Our nation was founded on the concept that a person could worship the way they saw fit without oppression, and the American financial dream was about working for one’s self, without oppression….rather than all your efforts going to the support of the man down the road just because his name was “elite”. Men were considered equal as to opportunity, limited only by their efforts, rather than their “status” in life that was defined by some indifferent individual. Might I suggest that wealth is a state of mind? And that the Prudent Homemaker’s skills are benefiting far more than her family? One never knows when our financial fortunes may change, for the worse or for the better, but those skills will always serve.It seems I offered more like 3 or 4 cents, and since this was not meant to be a treatise, I’ll bow out.

  14. I’m thrilled you have a blog! I find myself reluctant to chime in on things, as I have much to do, and I often question the importance of my responses, but I’d like to add a few of my frugal things:I’m taking the children to the reservoir and teaching them swimming lessons this week and next.The orthodontist offered free tickets to a day at the water park, so we picked some up.I make all our bread now, but since it is so hot, I’m making our favorite flat bread recipe and my kids think it is a huge treat which is a bonus.Made fruit smoothies for lunch from fruit that had been given to us.I started growing swiss chard because of you, and I eat this for breakfast each morning now that the spinach has bolted. A little saute of swiss chard and some squash blossoms with an over easy egg on top… super yum.In the morning (if I can get back to sleep…lol… I’ve been up with 4 kids tonight) I’ll be grinding wheat and barley to add to the white flour for bread.Set the thermostat up 2 degrees. That triple digit heat is harsh on the pocket book. Seems like we are all doing it.Made a card and small gift with supplies I already had for the baptism we attended last Saturday. Grilled dinner so as to not heat up the house any more.Eating from the garden as much as possible(no produce purchase this month). Peas are pretty much done, swiss chard and carrots are starting up. Our beans went in where the peas were (with some extra nitrogen). Waiting for apricots and blackberries in the next couple of days.My oldest teaches a couple of our younger children violin lessons each week (in between her other students) in return for our support of her.Had to switch my exercise to indoors because of heat and my bike tire wearing out. Used an old video and got a great work out.Thanks for the opportunity to recognize my efforts! The review of them is encouraging.Penelope

  15. Beautifully written! I don’t often – if ever – respond to posts, but I had to. Honestly, your few “cents” is the kind of “change” this country needs! God Bless

  16. Busy lady, Penelope! Sounds like you’ve got it together. Chard is so good, great added to soup! Love that your older daughter is earning her keep. Lovely way to encourage the youngers to appreciate music and helping out. Keep up the good work.

  17. I’ll be interested to see your blog post on this topic. I came from a large family myself and we didn’t have very much money, but we always had shelter, food, medical care, an education, etc. My parents were (and are) very frugal. It can be done. We were never on government assistance or financially supported by others. My father always worked. He did whatever he had to do. Sometimes that meant having more than one job, working jobs he hated, working 100 hour weeks to support us. I’m proud of the way I was raised. It can be done.

  18. Do you have an Aldi’s close by? My husband just discovered Aldi’s brand of gatorade-like sports drinks. He said he couldn’t tell a difference. The cheapest I have seen a big bottle of gatorade at the store was $.90. Aldis has their’s for around $.66 at our area. Just a suggestion.

  19. Love reading your posts so much! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures of your children too!I struggle with a low milk supply as well, and I seem to be dropping it faster the second time around because of my baby sucking her thumb all the time too. She does wake every 2 hours at night, which helps with my supply. I notice a big difference if I have oatmeal and a Mother’s Milk tea regularly. I also drink as much water as I can. I am hesitant to pump, I have not needed to yet (my baby is 6 months old), but will if I need to. I am happy to finally have started her on some solids to help her stay fuller longer (not to replace feedings of course) as she seems more content. That’s wonderful you were able to nurse so long with your last – I made it to 14 months then dried up from pregnancy.

  20. Hi I admire Brandy’s talent and energy and that of the others that post. We live in Southern California and have huge windows that face south. We have found that lined curtains at the large windows really help keep the heat down in the house, although you may have to use lights a bit more. In addition, we recently looked into having solar installed at the house. Our energy use is quite low so it wasn’t worth it to us (but those of you with huge electrical bills might want to look into solar leases — I don’t quite understand them but they are big business these days and require no out of pocket costs . . . ) but one of the solar installers said that even if you put lined curtains in your house about 70% of the heat still enters, and that it is actually better to put awnings or some other covering up outsided large heat producing windows. We put a “shade sail” outside of our heat producing kitchen window and it is noticeably cooler. Now, admittedly, I don’t have Brandy’s talent for creating a lovely home and the shade sale isn’t exactly pleasing to the eye (they just don’t look as good as they do in the pictures) but it is definitely cooler in my kitchen. If you could live with it my suggestion is ANY sort of covering over the exterior of heat producing windows.Brandy’s frugality and environmentalism (through lack of waste) are utterly commendable.

  21. Hey, I just found your blog and I like it!Two weeks ago I was able to reduce my insurance (home and auto) by $1,576 by shopping around and switching. So I wrote about this in my blog. am still so happy about this.My daughter is not cooperating on reducing her shower time… :(For your milk production, I don’t know if you are doing this already but when I was breastfeeding my doctor told me to drink a cup of hot tea with milk about 15 minutes before breastfeeding. Also some herbal teas help milk production too.

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