Sunday, December 27, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments for the Week of Christmas

To give the Santas proper height, I have some of them up on bits of
2x4 lumber....we are fancy like that! 

We, of course, hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  Ours was really nice - peaceful and restful.  Here are a few things we did this past week to spend less, save more and make do:

We did our usual things - the wood stove helped us stay warm and we used the drying racks to dry our clothing.

Husband changed the oil in the truck, which is more cost effective than hiring someone else to do it.  He and I also fixed a broken clip on the door lock of the car.  We used a small drill bit, some jewelry making wire from my craft room and about 5 minutes of our time, and it's as good as new!

Daughter has been home on winter break - I love having her home all day! herself entertained without spending a lot of money.  And no...this is not allowed.  At least she has her in a bin.

We took issue with a decrease in service and increase in price from our internet provider.  When we called, it was made clear that they didn't really have any way to restore either better service or a better price...and they were kind of apathetic about the whole thing.  So, Husband made a few phone calls, and we found a local provider who will give us a better plan than even the previous one (before they lowered the speeds) for less money.  The new company has high ratings, we will save $80 a year, there is no contract or term, and installation is free.

I completed some Pinecone Research surveys.

I purchased a few items that were on sale, such as avocados for .48/ea.,  broccoli crowns for .99/lb., pineapples for .98/ea. and romaine lettuce for .99/head.  We bought a few candy items after Christmas when they were half price - some chocolate cherries and blueberries and some M&Ms.

I got out my rubber stamps and some other things I had on hand, to made thank-you cards to use this coming week.

I had not purchased any gift wrap or supplies (bows, ribbon, etc.) for several years.  After this year, we were low on some things.  I purchased one roll of gift wrap on the 26th, when it was half price.  It is a large roll (200 square feet) and will last us for quite a long time.

About 6 weeks ago, I bought two 'aerogarden' hydroponic setups second hand.  Actually...I bought one for $10, and the lady gave the the second one because it was working intermittently.  This means I have backup parts of everything except the water pump, so I was thrilled!  I set up one of the pods with kale seeds, and used some liquid plant food I picked up free from the hazardous materials dropoff site.  I purchased the growing medium in a 50 pack on Amazon, which was less expensive than purchasing pre-loaded baskets (one of the kits came with a set of baskets).  If this works well, it will be a fun way to learn about plant growth, as well as a way to grow some greens in the cold months.  I'll share photos once we have some sprouts!

I decided that I needed a wee table with a shelf where I could put away my tiny office when I am not working.  We had the perfect table, but we were using it in our living room.  When I was down in the basement, I brought up a wood tray table.  It works fine in the living room, and freed up the wee table for me to use.  Ultimately I would like to get something a little nicer for the living room, but this will work for now, and I can search for a thrifted table that suits our needs.  Also from the basement, I brought up a basket to store my headset, pen, sticky notes and a few other small items I need frequently when I am working.  I am really happy with the way it is all coming together.

Well, that was our week!  How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more and make do?

Monday, December 21, 2015

This Past Week's Frugal Accomplishments

We had a frugal week, but it was busy! is what I can remember at the end of the week.  :)

Last year, we borrowed a spare small Christmas tree from a friend, and really liked the ease and simplicity of having a smaller tree.  Last January, I picked up two 4' trees from a lady on Freecycle.  One is white, with colored lights, the other is green with white lights.  We tried them both, and even after we changed fuses, they both had areas where none of the lights worked.  Daughter liked the green one best, so I removed the damaged lights and strung on some led lights that we had purchased post-season several years ago.

This was my only Christmas tree purchase - .99 at Goodwill. 

Daughter wanted to do a bird/nature themed tree, so we went through our ornaments and chose just those ornaments.  Our little tree is really, really cute!  (I think I am going to remove the lights from the white tree and save it for when our basement is finished - it would be cute to have a tree down there, and we have other lights we could add to it if we wanted them.)

Daughter and her friend made gingerbread cookies earlier in the week.  I saved back half the dough (it was quite a bit for two girls to have to process).  I made ginger stars and glazed them with some orange glaze that was left over from some scones I made a few weeks ago.  I supplemented with a little bit of white glaze too, which made for reallly pretty, tasty cookies.  Her cookies are much cuter than mine!

I washed our clothing with homemade laundry soap and air-dried it on racks in the basement.

We heated the house with our wood stove most days.

We put flannel sheets on our beds - they make it easier to get and stay warmer on a cold night.

Daughter was beginning to run low on jeans/slacks for school.  Happily, I had some more in her size in the hand-me-down stash I keep in the basement.

I used a $10 off $10 coupon from Kohl's to pick up some small gifts.

My friend Lana gave me the heads-up that there was a 'sale' on the My Coke Rewards site.  I was able to use just 30 points per 12-pack, which is far less than the standard amount.  Thanks, Lana!

I completed training for my new job, which means I'll be working at home from now on.  This will save on fuel and time.

Daughter gets a bit tired of sandwiches for lunch at school every day, so I wanted to get a stainless steel thermos so I can send soup sometimes.  She found this thermos for 99 cents!

She didn't want the image on it - she doesn't really know who Hannah Montana is, so it's no judgement on her...daughter just thought it looked 'too girly'.  We knew from past experience that these decals scrub off with steel wool and elbow grease.  Once I got the decal removed, I gave it a final polish with some Barkeeper's Friend, and it looks great!  We put some cocoa into it and waited 5 hours - it was still warm and just right for drinking.  Stainless thermoses are pretty expensive new, but this will do the job for a lot less.

I took Taffy to the spay and neuter clinic in town for her 3 year rabies shot and the remainder of her heartworm medicine (18 mos. worth).  The cost for medicine/tests/vaccines at the clinic is much less than it would be if we went to the vet.

I've been wanting to give Taffy a bath for a little while now.  My main reason - she's stinky.  We had a warm day, after lots of cold weather, so I gave her a quick bath on the deck, which saved me the $20 it would have cost to go to a pet wash place.

I spent time with two different friends this week - one stopped at my house, and I stopped by the other friend's house.  We didn't 'go out', which saves money, and just enjoyed one another's company.

We went to the scratch and dent store and stocked up on a few items that we had tried and liked.  Cinnamon oat cereal (a store brand of cinnamon Life) was .69 a box, Milton's Bakery crackers (I adore these!) were .94 a box, and M&M's were .99 for a 10-12 oz. bag.  We also picked up some jerky...some of it is awful.  If they won't do a refund, we will use it for dog treats.

At the supermarket, we got organic oranges for .48/lb, whole pineapples for .98, broccoli for .98/lb, milk for 1.99 a gallon, organic spaghetti sauce for .99/jar, russett potatoes 10lb./99 cents and pints of jalapenos, sliced jalapenos and jalapeno relish for .99 each.

This was on the kitchen table for Daughter one weekday morning - a little trinket
given to Husband at work (tigers are the business logo), along with the
section of the newspaper that contains the comics.  What a sweet, thoughtful dad.
We stuck to our dinner menu...with the exception of one day when we were in town and decided to have Chinese food at 3pm, so we just had the leftovers for supper.  It was actually a planned treat that got planned after I'd created the menu. :)

As we get close to Christmas, I'm stocked on wrapping paper and gift bags saved from previous years, so we will not need any of those items.  We used decorations we already owned, and with one 99 cent exception (a hand-painted Christmas ornament from Goodwill), we didn't spend money on Christmas decorations.

Are you meeting your financial goals this season?  What have you been doing to spend less, save more and make do?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I am left with a choice - wait and see if I have time to add photos, or post, before this entire post gets stale.  As you can see, I have decided to post now, picture free.  Sorry, visual learners!

Daughter was in two class-written plays this past week.  She needed some costuming, which we were able to create from things we had on hand.  It has been an interesting week with regard to clutter, because there was a vest that I donated to Goodwill in the summer that would have been a good addition to one of the costumes.  In the end, her costumes were just fine, but it made me think!

We had to replace the windshield on our 10 year old car.  A rock hit the edge of the glass and it cracked in a line running across the windshield.  We don't have insurance coverage for windshield replacement, so I called around to check prices.  The price difference surprised me - my final cost was over $100 less than the highest of the 4 quotes I received.  The place we chose was fast and had great ratings as well - I was really happy with their service and speed.

Not far from the windshield 'store', there is a scratch and dent grocery store.  I had been their one time before and gotten some crackers that I really, really liked.  I stopped in to see if they had them, and they did!  The price was 30 cents less than the last time I bought them, plus they are running a 30% off promotion until the end of the year.  I purchased some crackers, a bottle of ketchup, a box of cereal, and a few other items.  I was happy to learn that they are now selling bread, because we had stopped at the bread outlet earlier in the day and they were out of bread at that location (they still had bagels, donuts and specialty items, but no standard sliced bread).

OK, so when we stopped at the bread-less bread outlet, I had my punch card, good for two free items on a particular rack.  I brought home a box of donuts and some sandwich thins.  I'm thinking those sandwich thins would make some cute little pizzas.  :)  The punch card gets filled based on the money spent in the store.  It takes us a long, long time to fill the card, but it's no trouble to get those freebies.

My friend gave me acorn and butternut squash.  I just took one of each, because I already had some at home, but she wanted to give me  I need to find some more ways to cook them before I make that level of commitment, hee hee.

Until late in the week, our weather has not been terribly cold, but cold enough to use the wood stove to heat our home.  It really saves on propane costs.  Toward the end of the week, we have had snow and wind, and the wood heat has made it nice and cozy.

I had to purchase a PC for my work this past week.  Husband helped me find the things I needed - how much memory, how much RAM, etc - and helped me find a good price for a computer that would meet my needs.  He did the purchase through Swagbucks for extra points, and paid with a card that was doing a special offer.  Both of those helped lower the price a little more.

I also needed Office on the computer, and happily, we had a previously purchased disc and key card that had one remaining licensed use on it.  I am SO glad we held onto that!  I also found 'the mouse' that we knew we'd saved, though I haven't tried it out just yet (it has been a BUSY week).  The only thing left is to get a headset for the phone.  The one I want is on Amazon, and we have a special offer there as well, that will cover the cost of the headset.

I worked about 15 hours this week, a combination of training and taking on some of the tasks I will be responsible for.  I also volunteered at Daughter's school about 7 hours this week.

A friend's family was having a really rough day.  I was able to do something nice for them (service) which didn't cost a thing, but was helpful.

We did a good job with leftovers this week.  Meaning, there aren't really any left over!  I didn't get to all the menu items we had planned, but leftovers filled in on those evenings.

I washed our clothes with homemade laundry soap and hung them on drying racks in our basement, since it is so cold now.

I popped popcorn for some snacks and did some scratch cooking.  I took a ham from the freezer, and when it thawed, I cut it into more reasonably sized chunks for our family, wrapped and froze those (except for some that we ate).

Hams were advertised this week for .98/lb.  I bought one, and I'm contemplating buying another.  Truth be told, I need to see if there is enough space in the freezer.  Milk was 1.99/gal this week.  I have a lot of fresh produce (lettuce, cabbage, celery, carrots, onions, an eggplant, red pepper, potatoes, sweet potatoes, a tomato, apples, oranges, pears and cuties) on hand from the really good sales we have had lately, so I only purchased bananas this week.  The crisper drawers are full, so I will plan menus based on the items on hand.

We chose an ornament from the giving tree at Daughter's school.  We got gifts for a 9 year old girl.  The big gift is a crafting set for making beaded jewelry.  It comes with instructions and all the supplies, but I also purchased a divided storage box to store the beads in once the box is open.  I had some soft fluffy slipper socks I purchased on clearance, and I recently purchased some really cute stocking-stuffer items from a kiosk at a supermarket - It was a $1-$2-$3 kiosk that they were clearing out before Christmas, so everything was marked 20 cents.  I also included a package of assorted color ball-point pens that I bought with coupons at back-to-school time and a blank journal.  We hope she likes her gifts!

I made some Christmas gifts this week.  In spite of multiple challenges in the process, (I had a lot of technical difficulties) it all turned out just fine.  That's really as much as I can say without family finding out what I'm up to - sorry!  I have two more make-it projects to complete, both of which really need to happen this next week.

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more, or make do?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I am going to post frugal accomplishments for this past week.  It seems to be one of the types of posts that some of you have missed (based on messages I have gotten), so I will try to keep up with them when I can.  I know I haven't posted them in a while, but we have continued to make and effort to live frugally, buy second-hand and sort out wants vs. needs.

We used the wood stove in our living room to heat our home as much as possible.  Temperatures early in the week were in the teens, so it was a big help.  We get our firewood for free - we just have to haul it, cut it to length and stack/use it, so it really is a big benefit that is low-cost for us.

We store these in the freezer (so we don't eat them so quickly!)

I used the 'bits' left after a package of frosted mini wheat cereal in some energy balls.  I made them with the cereal dust, milk powder, peanut butter, chopped raisins and cranberries and a little powdered sugar.  Daughter takes them in her lunch for lunchtime 'dessert', or has them for snacks at home.  They're really tasty and a great way to use up odds and ends.

Daughter needed to make a diorama for school.  I asked her to plan it out, then make a list of all the supplies she would need.  I then asked her to 'shop the house' for supplies, and it turned out we did not need to purchase anything for the project.

When I did laundry, I hung it to dry on the drying racks, which I set up in our basement.

I purchased a Christmas gift in like-new condition that would have been $15 new for 75 cents.

I gave Husband a haircut, trimmed Daughter's bangs, then cut my own hair.

We borrowed books and other media from the library.  I also did some subbing at the library.

We (mainly Daughter and I) decided that this year, our Christmas tree would have a bird theme.  I used Pinterest to find and pin ideas for various ornaments we can make.  We intend to do this without spending a lot of money, by using items we have on hand.  (Now, I just need to find some time to bring in the Christmas bins!)

These are so soft and squishy!

JCPenney sent out a flyer that included a $10 off a purchase of $10 or more.  I found some really soft, squishy socks for $5 per pair, so I 'purchased' two completely free.

I found whole chickens for .79 a pound, so I bought three for the freezer.  Cutie tangerines were $3.88 for 5 pounds, so I purchased some of those, along with some fresh pears for .88/lb.  Leaf and romaine lettuces were .99/head, and milk was 1.79/gal.  C&H sugar was .99/4lb., a price we haven't seen in a very long time.  I had to get a raincheck because they had run out.  I'm still watching for good ham prices so I can stock those this month, and butter/oils are on my list as well.

I planned a supper menu, which helps me use both my time and our leftovers more efficiently.

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more, or make do?