Monday, March 24, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

The weather was astoundingly beautiful this last week and all I wanted to do was to be outside in it. 

Fortunately, I had plenty of chores to keep me outside.

I stopped to watch a songbird sing in my garden on several different occasions.

I watched a monarch butterfly flit above our patio.

 I cut asparagus from the garden this week (around 2 pounds).

I picked several different types of lettuce from the garden for salads several times. 

 I saved the water from washing the lettuce to water potted plants in the garden. 

The children had fun outside too. The boys appeared to have some flying lessons. . . .

"First, you fly up in the air like this."

"Now follow me. Good! Hold your arms up straight to go higher. . . ."

"Let's practice hovering now."

"Now go crazy with it!"

while the girls played with dad on the the swings and the merry-go-round.

The children participated in a talent show this week. That was lots of fun!

Winter was invited to a birthday party and made some gifts for her friend, who is a Dr. Who fan.

I walked down the street to a garage sale, where I purchased 2 picture frames ($1 each; one was a 16 by 20 inch frame that was brand-new), 3 books (25 cents each), 3 like-new Harry Potter games ($1 each). One of the games and one of the books will be for Cyrus' birthday. One of the books will be for Ivory's birthday; it is a book that we have checked out at the library before that we already know she likes.

I received 2 free magazines in the mail. One had another smaller magazine sample (of a different magazine) that came with it that I enjoyed as well.

My husband and I had an at-home date.

I took pictures of an older couple as a gift for the woman's 80th birthday. This is a woman I visit teach from church.

I used a free coupon code from Walgreen's to order and 8 by 10 image of this picture of birds' eggs for free.

I planted more seeds in the garden. I figured out a way to grow more Swiss chard and artichokes in the existing space that I have (using closer spacing of rows, staggered plants, and more frequent harvesting of chard), as well as more flowers for cut arrangements through the summer. I planted both chard and zinnias, and I will be running more drip lines in the area where I am growing the artichokes to allow them to be spaced closer together. Both the chard and zinnia seeds were leftover from previous years.

I added several things to my garage sale pile.

What did you do to save money last week?


  1. As always library for books and tons of new magazines and dvd's ( Captain Phillips, All is Lost, Last Vegas). Local thrift store received huge donation from fancy/schmancy boutique and I got a brand new colorful bag that retails for $102 for only $3. Tons of tshirts that retail for $25ish for only 50 cents each.

  2. Your asparagus looks great; hopefully one day mine will look that great too. It’s a seedling and only in its first year so I have a while to wait yet before I can harvest any crop.

    Last week's accomplishments are…
    I pulled the first lot of baby carrots from the veggie garden, though I think the ground became a bit too hard because all the roots were in a ball when they came out of the ground.

    I froze some extra ripe bananas to make smoothies later. The banana smoothies so far have been delicious.

    I attended Curtin University, School of Information Systems Award Ceremony where I won the PwC Award for best student 2013 Business Applications 300.

    I bought some new seedlings for the veggie garden, dwarf broccoli, brown onions and leek. So far I have only planted the broccoli as it taking a lot longer than expected to ready the soil for the new seedlings.

    Photos and more accomplishments at

    Have a great week everyone!
    Rebecca | Life & Home

    1. Congratulations on your award!

    2. Well done on your award, that's great news :)

  3. Great finds at the garage sale!

    For St Patrick’s Day, I sliced a small head of cabbage into the crockpot, poured some tomato sauce over top, then added large meatballs, then more tomato sauce. I usually make cabbage rolls, & serve them with mashed potatoes, but my husband has problems trying to digest the cabbage, so this lets him eat the dish, with all the flavors cooked in, without the cabbage (more for me). I also made green gelatin & black bean brownies with green frosting. I filled a green bud vase with yellow King Alfred daffodils & set it on the table beside the boxwood clippings.

    Planted “Early Frosty” heirloom peas after I repaired & put up the pea fence.

    Continued to recapture “warm-up” water & rain water for garden use. Saved the water from washing lettuce as well. We had a cold spell at the start of the week, so I kept the cloches on the lettuce. Removed part of the dead tops from the spearmint & peppermint bed.

    Watched “Cheese Slices” on UEN.

    We purchased a replacement car from my father-in-law. He had purchased a new vehicle & sold his old one to us instead of using it as a trade-in. When I took it for the safety inspection, the factory-applied tint on the windows was too dark to pass under Utah law. I consulted with my husband, & had them remove the film layer from the driver’s side window & the passenger window, & the car passed without a second inspection. I spent many hours this week removing the glue residue from those two windows. I am simply not willing to pay a minimum of $100 per window to have the residue professionally removed, but I can now tell you that parking the car in the sun for long enough to warm up the windows helps, spraying window cleaner on the residue & scraping with an old card (I used my health card from before I retired) removed a great deal from the center portion of the windows. Old peanut butter, which is my go-to for removing glue on jars, did zip, & was a mess to remove. I finished the edges with Q-tips & nail polish remover that contained acetone. I already had the Q-tips, nail polish & window cleaner, so it cost me nothing out of pocket, but it took 3-4 hours per day for most of the week.

    Took down & put away the St Patrick’s Day decorations & set out the Easter decorations. I have a dozen or so ceramic lambs, purchased second hand, that I use for decorations. A few were unglazed & had marks when I bought them. Those received 2 light coats of white gloss spray paint, & now they look “new”. I suspect most of my “lambs” were from broken nativity sets, but they work great for Easter decorations at our house.

    Harvested the first lettuce, spinach & dandelions greens from the garden this season, & more chives. Ate all meals at home.

    Filled the car with gas, using the card on the designated day for the discount & the free car wash…and I found another penny by the pump! Cashed a $3 check from pine cone research.

    1. Marivene, I looked up the CHEESE SLICES show since you mention it often so I thought I would check it out, but it seems to be something local. I could not figure out how to watch it, even on the internet.

    2. It a program by the Utah Education Network; you can only watch it in Utah, over their Pioneer eMedia educational link. It covers cheesemaking methods in various parts of the world. I find it interesting. The link below shows one of the seasons on DVD, when they were in Australia, but it is no longer available. Should be able to find it second hand if you keep an eye out for it, tho.

    3. Thanks for the info. A show on cheesemaking sounded very interesting. I checked our state library catalog but will try the ILL catalog too.

    4. Athanasia, apparently episodes can be bought online. No idea how much, tho, Viewing them on UEN over the TV is free for me.

      The DVDs are $16 at the rogue creamery url, which is still pricey, but if you know what they look like, it is easier to find them in thrifts.

      and lastly, this link gives you the contents of each series DVD.

    5. I found a set of short clips of Cheese Slices for free on youtube!

    6. I watched the you tube clips and there is also longer one (is it a half hour show?) But it is dubbed in Italian but the English narration is still going on at the same time so not really possible to understand either. I watched without sound.

    7. Yes, it is a half hour show. I only watched a couple of the short clips on you tube & must have chosen those in English. I didn't see the longer one.

  4. Found some good sales, premade casseroles for 1 euro each so I bought and froze 4 of them. They're really good and it's cheaper than eating take out. I also found lunchmeat for 1 euro per package so I bought one and froze the other.

    I got 4.4 pounds of pasta for .70 us cents, that'll last us forever and it's a great deal. I think that's the best sale I've found all year here so far.

    My oral lichen planus medicine isn't super effective but at least I found it helps my husband's cold sores. Making his own cold sore creme of zinc oxide and crushed lysine tablets have done wonders for his cold sores. It's pennies on the dollar compared to storebought creme.

    Since I'm home pretty much all the time, my husband has 3g data on his phone for the month but we can call each other via Skype. That saves me minutes on my phone and texting costs. My carrier I think costs more than his so this is good.

    1. Wow really inexpensive food. Is food cheaper where you live then in the U.S.?

    2. I live in Finland. It kind of depends, we tend to have subsidized things like freezer vegetables and all but meat is horribly expensive. A good roast is about 50 us dollars :/. We have 14% food tax on top of 24% VAT tax as well so we have some cheap things and then others are outrageously expensive.

  5. I got some great deals at Albertson's this week - mostly asparagus at 89 cents a pound! We had fun at home this week. My son had a couple of play dates of kids at our house - we fed them lunch from our pantry.

    I made lentil-onion croquettes. They were really good (but a lot of work - several steps anyway).

    We are on spring break this week. Today my husband and I are going to walk to an appointment instead of driving.

    I really like being home and off work - it means I have more time to cook!

  6. Harvested lettuce, Asian greens, parsley, snow peas, Everglades tomatoes for salad. Saved the wash water for potted plants.
    Picked 2 figs, a handful of strawberries, several pounds of loquats. We ate the figs and strawberries as a snack, ate loquats with lunches and froze about 10 packages of loquats (in 100g amounts so I can eat them within my carbohydrate allowance as I'm diabetic). Loquat tree was purchased 3 years ago as an 8" seedling for $1
    Used library for books, DVDs and magazines.
    Used coupons and Walmart price matching to save $10 this week. All on items we regularly use.
    I stopped eating beef, hubby still does, as the price is just too high. Using frozen turkey, from Christmas, instead.
    Replanted 2 Earthboxes with more lettuce, Asian greens and radishes. Have to use containers as our SW Florida yard is sand filled with nematodes.

    Wish I could grow asparagus and tulips, photos show how truly beautiful they are.

    1. Yay Library, love it for books, dvds and magazines. Our system in North MS has very generous lending periods and tons of new stuff each week.

  7. I posted my weekly savings on my blog:

    I am hoping after this year our asparagus will start to produce like yours. I harvested about 8 stalks from ours. We now have netting around it as I think the chickens' scratching was damaging the bed.

  8. I have never seen a trampoline put in the ground like that. Very cool.

  9. I dont comment much but love following your posts. This week the only accomplishment I made was making it through surgery alive. :) the good news is my being down is giving hubby the chance to put my frugal habits inyo practice himself. Dont know if he will remember anything in the end but maybe just maybe he will get that without being frugal eatting from scratch meals at home is the only way we have managed to save enough money to make the trip to Utah in a few weeks for his sons wedding.
    Amy L. in Arkansas

    1. Hope you are healing well and feel better soon.

  10. I am 2 weeks into trying out a Vegan, Gluten Free, sugar free diet for 6 weeks to see if it effects how I feel. Lots of beans, oats, veggies, fruits and peanut butter. I have found several bean based meals--Indian meals, black bean tacos, falafel that are very good. I feel proud of myself that I have stuck strictly to the meal plan, but don't feel much different than my baseline (which is feeling pretty good).

    Planted 8 tomato plants in my garden that I started from seed. Planted cucumber seeds and green bean seeds. Still harvesting lots of beets, cilantro and sugar snap peas. Found delicious, outside grown tomatoes at the farmstand down the street for $1/lb which I have been turning into salsa.

    I put on some drum solos on YouTube and my 2 and 5 year old have been playing drum solos for the past 30 minutes on pots and pans, laundry baskets, etc.

    Went to the beach twice and the kids played for hours.

  11. I LOVE that trampoline idea- I had veto'd the idea with our kids, because as a child my sister and I have fallen off or got hurt many times! .. i know you dig up to put it in, but how do you keep the air space for jumping??

    I proudly kept a piece of paper with my accomplishments this week, as it helps keep up the momentum of seeing all that I did ;)

    ...Homemade sandwich bread - two loaves for the week. Which saves us at least $6 because I buy organic from the store.
    ...Adjusted the heater- opening the curtains help keep the house warm, and at night I have turned down the heater a couple degrees and seems to being going well.
    ...Batch cooking for freezer- Banana bread and breakfast burritos (( we are having baby #3 in June ))
    ... potty training. Which I cant fully take credit for. My daughter is now wearing undies during naptime - and has never had an accident! (which she insisted on start doing herself) - so now she only wears 1 diaper at night!
    ...Library trip for kids movies and books- I always encourage family to give us books for birthdays and holidays, but the kids are really enjoying picking and reading new books (although they are 3 & 2)
    ...made applesauce from some apples I had versus buying some on my grocery trip.
    ...I checked out some freezer cooking cookbooks from the library to help expand on menu a little bit and add to the freezer.
    ...I took a reusable bag to the library instead of using one of the grocery bags they offer
    ...dishwasher- rinsing dishes well before, using the 'normal' setting (vs the pots and pans- it runs longer), and air drying. to save some costs.
    ...received a free sample (2 tablets = 2 'free' loads) for the dishwasher and a coupon- which is the brand I already buy!
    ...used my Kroger shopping points for our new gas station that was put in and received gas at 2.99 a gallon!! thankfully I was low on gas, so I sure made that purchase worth it!
    ...I am making a second batch of potato leek soup recipe that my mom gave me to add to the freezer! 8 ingredients- 5 of which are spices, and the only thing I have to buy 'special' is the leeks {I am new to using leeks} - inexpensive and pairs great with a sandwich for lunch!
    ...saved glass jars to reuse when freezer cooking!

  12. It has been awhile since I've posted so here's a compilation from the last several weeks of what I can remember:
    Found two quarters and put them in our fun jar.
    Used apples past their prime to make an oatmeal apple bake dish for supper.
    Did some strategic couponing to score some great deals: among them 4 boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk for a total of 75 cents.
    Went to an "everything's free" event where you bring your clutter and browse through other people's clutter and take whatever you want for free. This was a great motivator to continue my decluttering efforts and it was so much fun to see my stuff go to new homes. I also brought home a bar of lavender soap, new in the package.
    Took my daughter consignment store shopping and found her a pretty dress for spring/summer.
    Used a coupon in my attractions book for a free lunch at a downtown restaurant near where I work.
    In preparation for our spring break trip to Phoenix, where we'll stay with family:
    we monitored airfares and pounced when they dipped. purchased through ebates to get a little kickback.
    we did the same with rental care.
    we measured suitcases to figure out the cheapest way to pack. The 3 of us will use 2 suitcases to save $50.
    we each signed up for the Eienstein Bros. bagel shop rewards club so we'll get a free bagel and cream cheese with purchase of a drink while we're there. (we don't have Eienstein's in our area)
    Bought a package of chevron paper at Michael's with a coupon to make invitations for my daughter's 16th bday party.
    Looked on Pinterest with my daughter to choose a bday cake to make. She chose a layer cake with white frosting decorated with M&M's for a polka-dot effect.
    Bought the M&M's at CVS with coupons and rewards. Actually made money on the transaction.
    Used a coupon that was mailed to me to get a free candle at Bath & Body Works. I almost allowed it to expire because I'm not a huge candle fan. Turns out it was for a full-size candle that normally sells for $22.50. Decided to gift it to the mom of my daughter's closest friend.
    Bought a new printer as ours was about to die. Researched, waited for a great sale. Selected a wireless black & white only that prints on both sides. Used a gift card bought on Living Social at 50 % off to defray costs. In serious love with my new printer.
    Have a great week everyone!

    1. I'm a pro at packing. It's easier for adults than for kids; but for adults, all you need is 4 tops, 4 bottoms, and a jacket or cardigan. Make sure everything is in the same colour range (eg, blacks or browns) and that way you can mix and match and only take 1 pair of shoes for the lot. One of the bottoms should be a skirt (in case you have to go out somewhere a bit fancy) and one of the tops should be something that can be dressed up too, just in case. Only pack one pair of jeans, max. On the plane wear your heaviest clothes and make sure you wear your jacket. That means your bag has at most 3 bottoms, 3 tops, and your undies - fewer tops if you layer. I've benn travelling this way for years and often our trips involve a massive change in temperature (once we went from equatorial Africa to late fall, snow-on-the-ground in Eastern Europe), and you get really tired of your clothes after a bit, but it really works.

      Kids unfortunately generally can't get more than 1 wear out of an outfit; so you do have to pack more for them; but on the other hand kid's clothes are little and lightweight, so it kind of evens out.

    2. Wow, this is great. I usually overpack (due to a lack of organization) and then I use very few of my items, but I have to dig through all of them and it wastes so much time.

  13. This morning I ordered aa wonder wash from amazon. This way I can wash our clothes using no electricity! I saved a little money off the price.

    I used $5 in coupons at the grocery store. I shouldn't need to go to the grocer for two weeks.

    I ordered the free Walgreens picture but it looks professional so I need a release from my sister in law to be able to get it. She is mailing it because she lives almost an hour away.

    I use our solar lamp st night in thr bathroom So no electricity is used. My 3 yr old uses it too.

    Ate all meals at home and took all food to work.

    My husband received a football team themed lg garbage can free from a neighbor.

    We started cleaning up the yard in preparation for Spring planting.

    My husband moved part of fence to the edge of that yard. He bought a few supplies from Menards using a rebate we received.

    I started crocheting a blanket for my daughter using yarn I already had.

    I received a free magazine in the mail.

    Used homemade cleaners and homemade lotion.

    Line dried all clothing. I put the dark clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes to get the animal hair off then hung them to dry.

    I am drinking more water. I officially gave up soda for good.

    Our thyme is still green even after the hard winter. I am waiting to see if it will regrow.

    Have a great werk!

    1. Congratulations on drinking water and giving up soda!

  14. I am always impressed with what you do and what others who post here do! Thanks for the tips everyone! This is what we did this week:

  15. We have had fairly beautiful weather as well. I had asparagus for the first time a few months ago, now I might have to find a space to grow my own. How do you prepare yours?

    Our Frugal Accomplishments:

    Thinned and transplanted lettuce, swiss chard, radishes and cilantro in the covered garden box. Started German Chamomile and Heirloom Tomatoes downstairs under the grow lights.

    We were able to get two Ride Clear passes for public transportation. Each one is good for one weeks worth of free fares. So, the husband rode the train everyday this week for free.

    Made bread. I reduced the amount of yeast I typically use after reading a comment somewhere about Instant yeast being overused and I didn't notice a difference. I expected my rise times would be longer, but they weren't. I think next week I'll reduce the amount even more.

    Husband worked on the car. He installed an AIR LIFT system on the rear shocks. This system should help reduce wear and tear when we pull our travel trailer this summer.

    Stuck to my dinner menu. Woot!

    Picked up more wooden slates for free from a local cabinet maker to build a grid in my garden box. I have enough for one box so I'm hoping to get that made this week.

    Printed paper dolls for my big kids. The Friend magazine has a set called "Friend Figure" that is published each month, you can also print them online. My girls have developed quite a love for paper dolls since I printed the "Gingham Girls" set a few years back. They will play with their collection for hours and they take really good care of them. (Probably because they know I'm not afraid to toss them if they get left out or get ragedy. Ha!)

    Links and Photos on my blog:

    1. You can usually reduce the amount of yeast, that is true. But I was wondering about the "reading a comment somewhere about Instant yeast being overused". I tried to find anything about that on the internet and nothing came up. I mean, there are some people who think you shouldn't use yeast at all. Maybe it was that school of thought?

    2. OPH, re your question, are you asking how to prepare for growing asparagus or how to prepare to eat? I am guessing you meant a recipe. We like to just clean and trim, put on a metal 11x15 or smaller, depending on the amount you are cooking. We sprinkle it with olive oil and a little salt. Then broil in the oven. This is the only way we cook it all asparagus season. Leftover stalks are good cold. When I prepare the stalks I save all the trimmed ends (I snap them) peeling if needed and chopping of tough bits. I pack tightly into 2 cup containers. Then I use these throughout the year to make a small batch of cream asparagus soup whenever we want a nice treat. I have one box left in freezer to use before the new season starts.

    3. Ha! yes I ment recipes. My momma always boiled it and I refuse to eat it like that. The baking with salt and oil sounds good. I tried it breaded and fried at a restaurant and it was very yummy. Of course, most things are yummy breaded and fried...

      The instant yeast comment was that people were using it as a direct replacement for traditional active dry yeast without changing the amount, but in most recipes you should use less. I just thought I'd do some experimenting.

    4. We always used to steam it up to about five years ago when we had dinner at a friend's house and she did the broiling technique. Only way to cook now, for us.

  16. This past week went by fast and I felt like I worked a ton. I still did manage to have a few frugal accomplishments. But thankfully out of the next 10 days, I only work 2 days. One of the benefits of shift work!

    My daughter has to have a procedure done this coming Friday, and when the hospital called to do her pre-registration, they allowed me to pay the bill already. This saved us 10% and the hassle of paying the bill the day of. We also used money from our health savings account (which is also tax free therefore saving even more money).

    My water bill came and I was happy to see my efforts to cut down our water usage are paying off. We saved $7 compared to last month and $23 compared to the prior month!

    I made a double batch of chili and put half in the freezer. Today I am making a double batch of homemade taco bake and will freeze half. This helps us out a ton on days I work and prevents us from eating out so much.

    I also made homemade pasta e fagioli soup using diced ham that was in the freezer. It's one of my family's favorites. There was only enough left overs for one lunch for myself that I brought to work with me.

    My 3 year old daughter is currently obsessed with helping me cook. I think she may be a future chef! I allowed her to "help" with the above meals as well as making 2 loaves of banana bread with chocolate chips in them. I only had enough oil on hand for one loaf, so I substituted apple sauce for the remaining amount of oil and they still came out great and I can't even tell the difference. The second loaf has already been pulled out of the freezer for this week. This makes breakfast easy and quick.

    I closed out our budget from this past month (I do our budget starting the 20th of each month due to when I get paid and that I get paid only once per month) and found that we came in significantly under budget! We did great with our grocery spending and spending on miscellaneous items. Hopefully this trend continues.

    Our weather here has been flip flopping. Hopefully it warms up a little more so I can get outside and work in my garden. I started a bunch of seeds indoors this week and hopefully will be able to transplant them soon. Hope you have a great week!

    1. I never use oil in my banana bread recipe. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 C of banana and 1/2 C of oil so I just use 2 C of banana.

    2. Athanasia - BRILLIANT idea! Since I gave a glut of frozen bananas and I'm rationing oil and applesauce!

    3. I can only get away with this for banana bread and things that are supposed to taste like banana to begin with....the children don't like "surprise banana" as they call it.

  17. I did all the usual, washing out ziplocs, watching water usage, turning off lights, turning up the A/C 2 degrees warmer after SO leaves for work, ate at home, composted, cooked from scratch, worked 9 hours overtime, PLUS

    I went to Aldi and got a 5lb bag of red potatoes for $1.29.

    I made lentil shepards pie and clover rolls for St Patricks Day dinner.

    I painted the garden shed with leftover paint to match the house. Sooooo cute!

    I made banana bread from bananas in the freezer. I cooked a big pot of black beans in the crockpot and lentils on the stove and froze in small portions. When I cooked the lentils, I can’t pick up and pour the pot out due to arthritis and weakness in my hands so instead I scoop out the lentils into a colander. After the water is cool, I poured about 3/4 of the water out and then the 1/4 that was left in the bottom was really thick from the lentils so I saved that to make lentil soup for lunches.

    We spent part of our tax refund garden fund on a plastic owl to keep the squirrels away that were eating seeds I started and got tree rings and mulch for around the fruit trees we planted in January. I also put in an order from the nursery for 1 fig tree, 2 banana plants/trees, another grape vine, banana fertilizer and I got to pick 2 free plants with my order, so I picked 2 coffee plants/trees as that was the only edible on the free list. My son is excited to try to grow his own coffee!

    I signed up for the Home Depot Garden Club and got a $5 off $50 coupon so I put that towards garden soil (which was on sale), mulch and some bags of pea river rocks for by the front door.

    I made a sweet and sour stir fry to use up some produce and open jellies in the fridge. I stir fried yellow, red and orange peppers and some pineapple and tofu. Then added the jellies I needed to use up – mayhaw, apple and cranberry until they melted and heated up. I served it over white rice.

    I set up the nice rain barrel that we ordered in front of the house. It looks like a huge clay pot. The big ugly rain barrel that was a 55 gallon drum of capers that we got free from the city will be in the backyard (after 1 year it finally does not stink like capers!). On my to do for next week is to paint the ugly rain barrel with leftover paint, maybe paint flowers on it or ferns? I have to look online for some ideas.

    1. Debbie in FL, I like the creative way you made your sweet and sour sauce. Much tastier than the store bought, for sure.

  18. Hello everyone! Your yard looks amazing Brandy and looks like the children are having a great time playing in the nice weather. We had once pretty nice day last week, but it is still cold here, in the 20's right now...

    -I repaired a laundry basket using duct tape.

    -I am trying to find meat for less than $2 per pound. This past week I found boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.99, store-ground sausage for $1.79, and chicken leg quarters for $ .88 a pound. I also saw bologna and hot dogs but I passed those by. We do eat hot dogs occasionally if we have a wiener roast, but it is still too cold for that.

    -I was in the grocery store and my aunt was there too. She looked in my cart and saw that I had two jars of mayonnaise and she had a dollar off coupon in her hand she was not going to use. Our store had a promotion where if you bought six specially marked Kraft items you received $3 off. I bought the mayo and some cheese, so I actually received $4 off when I used her coupon too.

    -Paid a doctor bill in full saving 10% because I paid within 30 days.

    -My daughter gave me three pairs of socks.

    -Made homemade cheese.

    -Picked up three pancake recipe books at the library. I want to make different types of pancakes.

    -My husband worked on the lawnmower. It is a 1978 model- a 60 inch cut turf mower. He keeps patching it back together. Something was wrong with the mechanism that works the pulleys and he was able to fix it for free.

    -Received a refund on my son's college fees. He has a full scholarship for tuition, but we have to pay the lab fees. He is an engineering major and every class has a fee, but for some reason they sent us a refund check.

    -Made a big birthday dinner for my daughter's fiancé using only items I had on hand. Baked a ham- which I had bought for less than $5, a potato casserole (home-grown potatoes, cheese bought on sale, and we have plenty of milk) green beans, I had canned those last summer, salad made with on-sale ingredients, homemade dinner rolls, and cranberry sauce- I froze bags of cranberries when they were on sale after Thanksgiving. We had leftovers for two days afterwards also! I bought him two shirts and socks I bought on sale.

    -Browsed the bookstore and wrote down authors and titles I thought I would enjoy so I could look them up online and order from the library.

    -Instead of making New Year's resolutions, I decided each month to set a goal for myself that did not cost any money but would make my life better in some way. January, I made myself start wearing my progressive lenses. It took a while to get used to them, but it is so much easier than switching glasses. In February I started recycling my plastic, glass, and cans. I go to three different towns for shopping and there are recycling bins conveniently located in each one so it is no bother to drop it off. And I feel good about not throwing all that stuff in the trash. We are able to have lower-priced trash service now also. For the month of March my goal has been to stop weighing myself every day- which sounds strange but when I was going through chemo I actually gained weight and it has been a bit depressing. Getting up and weighing myself first thing every morning just gave me a bad start to the day. So now I am just concentrating on being healthy and more active, and healing instead of a number.

    Have a nice week everyone!

    1. Love duct tape. I also love that u "shopped" around for books then order from library. And lastly.. Congrats on ur monthly goals and beating cancer!! -adriana.

    2. I have not owned a weight scale for over 15 years. It is so liberating. My days are no longer dictated by the number on the scale.

  19. -- We had asparagus from the garden this week too!
    -- I made two baby shower gifts this week.
    -- We didn't drive anywhere this week besides church and school.
    -- We ate all meatless meals.
    -- I planted seeds both in the garden and indoors.
    -- I didn't us the dryer at all, just the clothesline.
    -- I cooked up our last pumpkin from fall's harvest.
    -- I made up a batch of homemade detergent.

  20. Still working on maple syrup- it's been a crummy year for it... still MUCH too cold!
    Here's mine:

    I love how your trampoline is IN the ground! That is SO clever! I am excited for our asparagus patch to grow- though this is only our second year so we won't be harvesting much. ;-)

  21. Last week I loaded the freezer with birdseye frozen veggies. For every 13 bags, I've found that if I serve more veggies, I can serve less meat and people don't complain much. I continued to bake from scratch. When I make 2 loaves of bread, it usually doesn't last 2 days, but if I make 4 loaves of bread in one day, then it lasts all week and I wind up trying to figure out ways to use it before it goes bad. I guess I'm gonna have to stick with the 2 loaves at a time. I also picked up about 60 boxes of kelloggs cereal. Most of them were free, but a few of them I did pay 25¢ each for. They won't last till summer in my house. I made a few casseroles with ground beef & pasta. I attempted to make jambalya, using noodles instead of rice. I threw in too much cajun seasoning. I don't think anyone here will be eating anything cajun flavored anytime soon!!! It took us several meals but we finished it. I made a sloppy joe casserole last night. I made sloppy joe and then instead of serving that on bread or rolls, I put rice in it. Also, I was browning the ground beef, I took a large block of frozen lentils out of the freezer and threw that in the pot. My son noticed it and asked "what are those beans", but my husband, (the veggie & bean hater) hasn't said anything. Oh I also threw in a few handfuls of dehydrated shredded zuchinni. The next time I use the frozen lentils, I will definitely run them through the grinder. I know for sure that nobody would know the difference. Yesterday I made home made chocolate syrup. It was so simple, and since I had the ingredients in my cabinet; cheap!!! My little one drinks a lot of chocolate milk, so this will save us a few dollars a month. Ive been going through youtube to think of other things that is cheaper to make than buy. Most of it I already do!!!

    1. Kim, where do you find your cereal so cheap? Is it with coupons? I never see that many coupons for cereal here. We like the CHEX cereals for mix and Cheerios, they might go down to 1.99 a box a couple times a year but nothing like .25!

    2. Its not normally that cheap. The frosted mini wheats were on sale for $2.50 a box. The grocery store ran a special that if you buy 4 boxes you got $6 off your that made it $4. You also got a catalina coupon for $3 off your next order, so, the next order the 4 boxes were $1. I printed coupons from kelloggs family rewards. If I used a $1 off 2 box coupon, then all 4 boxes were free. If I used a coupon for 75¢ a box, I was able to pick a more expensive box of cereal, and pay a little bit of money. That grocery store just started participating in Ibotta. so I made a little bit of money to pay for the more expensive cereals.

  22. I am two weeks behind and don't know where my list is on my mess desk {typical!} at the moment but for the most part I did the usual...

    * Shopped with coupons. I can't believe people don't shop with coupons. This weekend I saved just under 50% and that was the lowest percentage I've saved in a long time. Like that wasn't good enough. But I did so "poorly" because I only had about five minutes to throw a list and coupons together. My point is that coupons plus sales seriously rock!!

    * I ate at home- made my meals. I have a freezer full at the moment so I am trying to plan meals around that. I need to make space for some other sales- like frozen veggies.

    * I washed the dog at home. It's a pain and I am sure the groomer would do a far better job. But it's free and I can do it at 7PM on a Sunday when I have the time.

    * I combined errands to save gas.

    * I meal planned. For me, that's a big money and time saver.

    * I used several free samples- coffee, laundry detergent, dish detergent, shower products.

    * I made a baby gift out of my stash.

    * Made dinner for my dad for his birthday. Wish I had planned better because the ground turkey for the meatloaf wasn't on sale. But it made enough for two dinners and two lunches. And it's his only request- meatloaf on his birthday. I used my homemade tomato jam, from tomatoes I grew last summer, as the glaze/topping. Holy moly is that awesome!

    * Drank mostly water.

    * FINALLY started my seeds a week ago. So late this year. But my dad just built me a grow light that I will hook up tonight to help speed things along and hopefully prevent things from getting too leggy this year. So far the things that have germinated are: pak choy, swiss chard, broccoli, kale, and the tomatoes just popped through this morning for the first time. I'm so excited I can't even explain!! We might be expecting more snow this week here in Upstate NY but I have my first signs that gardening season is slowly but surely on it's way!!

    * I organized a bit my empty jars. I save store bought sauce jars too. Some fit the regular lids but most I use as vases. I cut flowers from my garden, stick them in a clean pasta sauce jar, wrap a scrap of scrapbook paper around the outside and use them as hostess and friend gifts all summer long. People LOVE this little gift as most people won't buy fresh flowers for themselves. And it costs me nothing. Win win!

    KK @

  23. Still saving gas on shopping trips by driving my parents around to doctor's visits, etc. This will probably only be another month --- I hope! I'd like to see them get their independence back.

    Toying with recipes to replace snack items.

    Used a rebate to purchase cauliflower, broccoli, and tomato seeds as well as some very inexpensive starter pots. I found a bag of soil at Dollar Tree. I scrounged around and found an old 4' fluorescent light. In just a few days over half the broccoli and cauliflower are up. I've got two dozen pots of each planted. I'm hoping this will stave off the rise in prices for the B & C which I'll blanch and freeze. I've canned tomatoes before so I'm just getting back to basics in canning my own and saving some cash...juice, diced and hopefully sauce as well.

    Of course, it will be a while. I had a fresh inch of snow this morning.

  24. I just LOVE all your pictures. Looks like a fun week. Did you take it off school? We do that when the weather gets nice. Hard to keep the kiddos and mama focused when it is nice.

    Things are getting a little warmer here in southern MN. My kids have been out riding bikes, scooters, spinners, wagons, 4 wheelers in our driveway. We still have a lot of snow so they stick to the driveway. the 2 year old made it to the sandbox. Oh I am not ready for the sand filled shoes. LOL

    -I made your rosemary French bread for a luncheon I had with some other moms and kids. it made yummy sandwiches. I also baked 2 kinds of cookies. These were a hit.

    Chocolate Cookie

    1 3/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 cup brown sugar
    2/3 cup canola oil
    2 eggs or powdered egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    optional: chopped pecans

    white sugar for rolling

    preheat oven to 350. combine dry ingredients except brown sugar. Stir brown sugar and oil together. Add eggs and vanilla and stir till smooth. Stir in dry ingredients to wet. Add pecan if desired. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

    - I was telling my neighbor how much my kids liked wild rice pilaf but how expensive wild rice is (even in MN). She opened her cupboard and handed me an unopened bag of 3lbs. wild rice. Her family does not eat it. I was very grateful. I also cut back the wild rice in my pilaf from 1 cup to 1/2 cup. Big savings plus the kids did not notice. ;)

    - After last weeks post of stockpiling diapers I got an AMAZING deal at Target. I normally buy Walmart because per diaper I have found them to be cheaper. Target had a rally great deal. Buy 2 boxes get $15 dollar gift card. plus diapers were on Target Cartwheel. I also had $50 in Target Gift cards from Swagbucks. I got 2000 diapers for $170 out of pocket! That is enough to get my older boy potty trained and my youngest it should last a year.

    For those that might be reading this and think that is not a savings if I would cloth diaper I want to share my experience. I cloth diapered my oldest 2 when I had a top loading machine over 7 years ago. I tired to cloth diaper my current 2 year old and it was NOT a savings with a front loader. I had major stink issues because front loaders use very little water. I was having to rinse 3 extra times on hot. No savings there for me.

    -I discovered that Aldi is cheaper for sugar and flour then Sam's club! I was shocked. Flour was almost $2 cheaper for 25lb. and sugar is almost $4 cheaper for 20lbs. I love Aldi. You can not beat them! I just wish they carried more basics.

    -I continue to do Swagbucks and cashed out with another $25 Amazon g.c. yesterday. I want a hot bun pan. Mine just get too wide when they rise.

    -I stayed home 4 days last week.

    -Took my big boys to a church gathering that served them dinner.

    - Met the new neighbor who just moved in and I think I have met someone that will be a lifelong friend. She loves to be frugal and stays at home. Two things that are hard to find today. Every mom works in my little neighborhood so this is exciting for me.

    - Baked bread, baked buns, muffins, cookies, froze strawberries that I got on clearance for 99/lb., baked all meals at home.

    - I am reading the Little House series to my kids again. we never get sick of it and it always inspires.

    - Called a toy company and they are sending me replacement parts for a air + water kit my son LOVES for free. We lost 2 parts.

    Well that is all I can think of. Brandy, how deep did you guys dig the hole for your trampoline? We are thinking of doing that.

    1. Congrats on ur diaper score!
      I wish i had a friend nearby who cared about frugality.
      Its like having this group in person! ;)-adriana

  25. Last week the kids were on spring break. We did not go anywhere so I guess that saved money but they were home all week and so ate more food and snacks. I bought vanilla and baking powder at Sams. This is the first time I bought baking powder but now that I am making all my pancakes, biscuits and muffins from scratch, I think I will use it before it expires. I found sausage at aldi marked down to 1.49 for a 1 lb roll. I bought 3 and sliced them up and froze the slices. . I wish I had bought more but they rang up for less than the sign and I didn't notice that until I was out of the store. I made muffins and biscuits to keep in the freezer

    I found a pair of jeans and a pair of sweat pants for my son at the re-sale store. We went to the library. My husband and I went on a lunch date. When we can, we meet for lunch on a Friday - it's less expensive than a dinner out.

    I took pictures of some depression era glassware we were given to try to sell on craigs list. I don't want to use ebay because the glass is fragile and I don't want them to break when I ship them.

    My daughter planted seeds from the dollar store to start inside. She's excited and we only spent $2.00 for 4 packs of seeds and a bag of potting soil.

  26. The asparagus looks delicious. We have a couple months to go before we see ours. The pictures of the children enjoying your yard are delightful.

    We had a really warm day of 50 or so degrees again but then right back down to 20's days, 10's night. But a lot of the snow has melted and grass is showing in places. No bulbs coming up yet, no buds on trees yet. I did pick pussy willow branches and brought them in.

    We did all the usual. Back to home cooking after last weeks outings. Cooked 2 corn beefs in the crockpots on Mon while at work and a 3rd crockpot with just vegetables and seasoning added for the non meat eaters. We had 8 for dinner 3-17, sent some home with my mother, SIL, daughter/husband, packaged up some for son/DIL, had a few more meals ourselves. The leftover meat I dice up and pack into 1 cup freezer containers for making hash throughout the year, enough for once every 2 weeks. Someone mentioned last week that they do their own corning of the beef. I'd like to try that if they want to share their technique.

    For groceries needed milk 2 gal for 6.00, alfalfa seeds to sprout for .99 from natural food store, deoderant sale at 10/10.00 (something for everyone), 20 large boxes of store brand gelatin at 5/4.00 (.40 off each box) , 2 boxes wax paper 1.99 ea, 3 pack of romaine for 2.50, and 5 lbs of bananas for .33/lb at gas station.

    Had a 10.00 off 50.00 purchase at Shopko so bought 6 spring jar candles for 2.00 ea (will put in 5 Easter baskets plus one for me) ,a tube of cortisone cream for 2.29, a new heating pad for 19.99, a 3 pack of underwear for daughter, bonus white crew sock packs for husband buy 6pair and one pair free in ea bag, black jelly beans and regular ones etc. Well it came all to just over $50 so got the $10 off. I also picked up 3 RXs and was given my $10 off after 10 RXs coupon for next visit.

    Mended a pants pocket, a couple pairs of winter gloves which we still need, fixed a pillow case hem.
    Worked on the quilt with 2 aunts in law and mother. Children had a good race last weekend, came back Sunday after church, the 3 guys did some work on the older couples house while there,inside and out, and the girls did a little early spring cleaning. Mother had a good visit with her friends.

    I am anxious to start my spring cleaning here too. Get everything opened up, get the rugs outside to beat, wash and put away all the wintery stuff, put away all the extra snow rugs by the doors.

    My oldest has been working dawn to dusk getting the preliminary garden stuff done. She has the greenhouse fixed and ready to start the seedlings. Over the winter she and my husband made frames for raised beds, she has put together frames for hoop houses. She is totally redoing all my gardens at the old house and going to set me up with all raised beds at the new house and a kitchen herb garden. I am looking forward to all the bulbs she planted too for me. She ammended all the beds in fall, like the rhubarb and asparagus and then the large garden we rototill. She took care of ordering all the seeds and will do the planting too. She calculated it all out as re final yield to take care of us, she and her husband, extra for the farm stand and shares to go to my mother and the other children, and she switched to heirloom seeds on some things. She even convinced the younger to help , who is not an outside worker at all. But she told Olivia she would let her play with the baby goats and that swayed her. My husband and I are just thinking of all the free time we will have with out having all the garden work too!

    We still have husband's brother with us so we try to find time to play a board game or card game with him every night. We have checked out a variety of family movies from the library for him to watch like MILO AND OTIS, THE INCREDIBLES, AN AMERICAN TAIL. I watched 2 episodes of ELEMENTARY on the internet with my daughter. Listened to A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and SIMPLY FOLK on the radio.

    1. Forgot...made 4 loaves of white bread, butterhorns (my grandma's recipe), hot cocoa, chocolate-chocolate chip cookies with pecans, the corned beef and cabbage/carrot/potato/onion dinner, scalloped corn, Enchanted Broccoli Forest, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti-cheese pie (from leftover spaghetti, cottage cheese, eggs, seasoning and sauce), egg salad filling for sandwiches and put 4 HB eggs into the leftover pickled beet juice for pickled eggs, baked doughnuts with strawberry glaze.

      I made another meal for the recuperating secretary...I took a pie crust from the freezer and some leftover beef stew, added a few extra vegetables and made an extra serving pot pie for the husband. For the GF vegan dish I made her a shepherds pie with all kinds of root vegetables which I roasted first for more flavor along with some cubes of tofu. I added peas, carrots and green beans from the freezer. I was not sure if my cornstarch would pass as GF or not so I thickened the sauce for the pie with the starchy water from cooking the mashing potatoes and some vegan butter. (Have 2 sticks leftover in freezer from when youngest goes on and off veganism.) Topped with mashed potatoes. It was good...I made a double serving one for her and then one for the 4 of us for our dinner. I made a gelatin salad using agar-agar in stead of gelatin as it said it was GF and it is vegan. I used cranberry juice and added chopped canned pears, chopped apples, chopped celery and chopped walnuts, kind of like but not really a Waldorf salad, some for them and some for us. I sent some of the choc-choc cookies for him and I sent a perfect banana and a nice orange for her and I also had some Hershey kisses I had bought for Easter. They said GF and they were the dark chocolate...I sent about 10 along in the original bag so she could look it over and see if GF and vegan.

      It was our church's turn this week to provide the snacks for the campus fellowship group...I made a CHEX mix with what chexes I had leftover from making Christmas mixes...I added some plain cheerios and some popped popcorn to equal the right volume. I was out of peanuts so left it nut free, used the usual seasonings and baked..thought it was fine and tasty.

    2. Forgot. Bought an iPhone. It was 1 cent with the upgrade from my old flip phone. It is an older version. But now we dropped the land line as will no longer need that. We can use it to take pictures of husbands projects to sell and for promotion. I can hear on it much better than my old phone, it has better tower reception and I can use the keyboard for texting rather than just the number display. Also the children have been asking for years for my mother and I to write our recipes down and so now will start family cookbook. I made bread and cinnamon rolls Tuesday night so I took pictures of the finished product. I don't think I need to take pictures of all the steps of something that simple but I can always add them next time around if they want.

  27. I cooked the last of my turkeys and made about 15 quarts of stock. I made a turkey noodle and vegetable soup for supper yesterday.

    When I went shopping for milk I also found bread, strawberries, spices and chickpeas, tomatoes and lettuce that were all 50% off.

    A while ago a friend of mine had given me a bag of dried kidney beans and I rehydrated them with a bay leaf, onion peals from my freezer and some garlic powder. I then froze six freezer bags. I will use them in some vegetarian chili and some vegetarian minestrone soup.

  28. I have done the usual things like driving only when absolutely necessary and combining errands to cut down gas consumption. I made whole wheat bread, pasta salad, fajitas, leftover fajitas, bean salad and cobb salad. I spent about half an hour cleaning out the back of my blow dryer with a toothpick - it helps the air flow if I remove the lint, etc. I also watched the free Wilton cake baking course. I started some more veggie seeds inside and hope to plant my peas and radishes outside tomorrow.

  29. My 2/3 off discount on electricity is from 7pm --12pm. (All night Zombie Laundry!) Since we are all unplugging as many plugs as possible I was wondering if I should unplug the washer and dryer during the long day of un-use. They are already pulled away from the wall because of the frequent necessity of gathering the laundry that falls behind them. So I do not think it would be too inconvenient.

    1. My in-laws always unplug their washer. It can't hurt!

  30. My husband cancelled an insurance policy he no longer needs, which will save us about $1200 a year. Over the years we've acquired a number of credit cards which we don't use; and so we're cancelling those too. Most don't have an annual fee and so the savings is nominal; but we just don't use them, we don't need them, so why keep them?

    We connected to a much better and much faster internet service (twice as fast, unlimited download), which is also cheaper and will allow us to use VOIP technology and get rid of our phone line. Between the phone and our existing internet plan we should be able to save about $65/month.

    The kids had a couple of birthday parties last week - they had a lot of fun. The presents came from one of our gift tubs. I squirrel away clearance items throughout the year and so I always have some things on-hand for birthday party invites - I've got plenty at the moment so I'm not actively looking; but if something comes up that is too good to pass up, I'll pick it up. I also spent some time going through the other gift tubs and arranging things for future presents. I made a list of people we generally buy presents for; and arranged and labelled things in the tubs accordingly. I am almost sorted for presents through 2015 for everyone but my kids and husband.

    I'm redecorating both kids' bedrooms. I found some very cheap pre-printed canvases at 75 cents each; I'm painting over the image that is there and I've found some images on-line which match their bedroom themes, which I'm going to decoupage over the canvases for new wall art. This is an on-going project. I'm using free sample paints for the painting; I get very cheap coloured printing at work; so the only real expense are the canvasses and the glue for decoupaging.

    1. I've often heard that closing credit card accounts can negatively affect your credit score. You may want to look further into it before you start closing those accounts.

    2. Thanks for that. We are keeping a couple of credit cards still; but we'll look into that. It just seems silly to keep them all when we don't use them; especially if there's an annual fee attached.

    3. Okay, I just did some reading up (because of course the internet's always reliable right?) In Australia (where I am) it doesn't really affect your credit score. It can in the US because of the "debt to limit" percentage (but it doesn't always matter).

    4. Closing too many credit cards at once can make creditors think you are in financial crisis and negatively affect your credit.

    5. Yep, they don't care why you are closing them, if you have an emergency come up and need a loan, this can cause a denial or a higher interest rate, if you aren't using them, the standard advise is to just leave em alone. In the past I cancelled cards that the temptation to use them would be great for me, or the interest rate made me mad, I paid the price of the negative effect on my credit, got a denied a car loan about 6 months after the last one I cancelled.

    6. Again, it depends on location. In Australia it has no effect whatsoever on credit.

  31. Got a free 8x10 photo. Thanks Brandy for the reminders!
    Hit my swagbucks goal and ordered the 25 paypal cash.
    Went to a potluck and we cooked chana masala and our friends made vegan mac and cheese and other dishes; it was delicious and we took leftovers home.
    Went to a graduate school conference; they served breakfast and lunch. Lunch left a lot to be desired, lol but it was sustenance, so I was grateful. I took a couple breakfast bars for snacks for later.
    I fasted on Sunday.
    Got a sample tea bag in the mail and drank it the day I fasted.
    Went out to lunch with a friend for her birthday. It was not frugal but I made sure to not order a drink or dessert and just stuck with the main course.
    It rained a lot, so we did not have to water as much.
    We picked kale from the garden.
    We picked a few more shiitakes and ate them for dinner one night.
    We composted.
    I saved the mushroom stems to make vegetable broth later.
    I went to a gardening event and learned some new techniques. They were kind to serve snacks and lunch.
    We rented a movie with a free code, but per usual, did not turn it in on time, so we had to pay for having it an extra day. We really need to work on this.
    Husband found some iron pieces on the side of the road that he can use in his blacksmithing.

  32. We had some ups and downs in frugality in the last week. Now that the hubs isn't working I am being a lot more strict with our budget. So things I used to no consider "bad" I am now beating myself up for. I think I need to find a happy medium.

    Frugal Accomplishments:
    -Used a pet supermarket coupon to get $5 off of my boys' food
    -Ate all but one meal at home. We used to schedule one meal out, and we canceled it with the loss of job. I feel bad that we ate this meal out, but it was so nice to get out of the house. I have mixed emotions about it.
    -Ate three meals from the freezer, and we kept our (paleo) grocery shopping under $40 for the week
    -We to the gym 6 times and the dog park twice
    -Picked up an extra shift at work.
    -Sold one book on
    - Used leftovers to make leftover soup. It came out amazing.
    -This was our first month using You Need A Budget (YNAB) it is working for us so far. The first month is free. We are debating if it is worth the $60 (one time) purchase. If anyone on here uses it I would love feedback.

    Frugal goals for this week: Pick up another shift at work. Go to the gym at least five times. Have friends over for dinner (instead of eating out like we normally would). Go to the dog park if the weather holds out. Keep groceries under $40 preferably under $30.

    Also, on an unrelated note the husband and I are receiving a small inheritance from his grandfather. It would be enough to cut his student loan debt in half, from 7000 to 3500. This is our only debt. I would love advice on using it for that purpose or saving it until the hubby is back at work.

    1. Do you have an emergency fund set up? Are you in any danger or not being able to pay the mortgage if dh doesn't find work? If it were me receiving the money, I would set it aside in case of an emergency. When dh finds work, then pay off the student loan.

    2. I've never used YNAB but I've used Mint and it is free. And free works for me!

    3. We have an emergency fund of 6-8 months of bills. I work and my income can cover all necessary purchases as long as we keep our belt tight so we actually haven't needed to touch the savings at all yet. Just FYI

    4. Based on your answer I would pay off the debt, that way you will be so much closer to being debt free! If you where in danger of not being able something then keeping it to make a payment makes sense. Once you are debt free you will have a bit of wiggle room in your budget.

    5. YNAB is awesome! So worth the $60. We have used it for almost two years now. One of the nice things is that it is a budgeting software (period) not a finance software with a budget tacked on. They know what they are doing over there. My other favorite part is that my husband and I both have the ap on our phones so I know exactly what's left in the food budget even if my husband went out to lunch that day. So easy to stick to the plan.

  33. Yikes! This was not a very frugal week in many ways as I traveled about 8 hours away to a homeschooling conference for the weekend. HOWEVER! I went with friends, we split, gas, tolls and hotel costs, spent one night at a relative's house along the way (and as a housewarming/thank-you gift I took two beautiful sake cups that my in-laws had collected while living in Japan) AND we all came home UNDER BUDGET!! Yay! I was seriously expecting to have to reign myself in while browsing the vendor hall but it was totally fine and I only purchased two books that I absolutely wanted for our curriculum and knew I couldn't get at the library.
    We found out this week that our electric rates have gone from costing $12 per day last year, to $31 per day (due to kwh rate increases). Our usage has increased a little bit, but really it's the cost that has increased so dramatically and we are a lteensy bit freaking out about it! More cutting corners to be done! I'll be coming here every week to see what everyone is up to so keep posting and thank you!
    *Ate our $3 ham, made soup with the bone, froze some slices for later meals and put the rest in the fridge for sandwiches and ham salad.
    *Hauled in some more wood from our lot to heat the house with since it is still winter even though it says it's spring!
    *Decided to have the high-school aged children take some free online classes known as MOOCs. This may turn out to be the biggest money saver of all since these are college level classes which are online and FREE to everyone. Check it out! Coursera is one of the biggest "clearing houses" for information on these courses.
    *Decided to bring our youngest home from school for next year. Lots of the usual reasons for that decision but it will save us tons of money since he does not take the bus and we drive him both ways. School is expensive and not just in terms of actual cash money. But that's another topic, isn't it? ;)
    Your garden and yard looked incredibly inviting Brandy, we here in the frozen tundra are incredibly jealous!

    1. I homeschooled until high school I kept a tight budget and High School for two children in Public School for fees, some clothing(very little) uniforms, participation fees for sports and AP Classes , college applications, and all of the usual things on a tight budget that children do in high school cost $58,667 for two children for the four years plus college application fees. They both were in Chorus, one ran track , the other was on the crew team they were both in science clubs, and german club, they both participated in community service and the gas to run them to events and (I often sent packed food from home for events / but being teens they often got hungry still and bought a bit more/ I always tried to increase the food I sent with them) There were parking fees, fees for Honor society, fees for being a student, hot lunches once and awhile. Supply fees for art class, tshirts that had to be bought , prom (and I kept it all on a tight budget) College Board fees, AP fees the list was so long I have only mentioned a few. It cost almost $60K to send two children to Public High School !!!
      In all fairness my children went on to Ivy League college on scholarships but the fees for high school were outrageous and if they did not participate the way that they did they would not have managed slots in Ivy League schools and scholarships.
      So YES, School is Expensive we saved by keeping them home until high school. When the entered school they were two full grades above everyone else in studies. One child got offered upon graduation he could have tested in as a Junior at Cornell. So Home School children do just fine in the real world.

    2. Wow, that seems unbelievably high. We had five in public high school, four years each, even with the AP classes, ACT and SAT tests, sports fees (which had a family cap) and most of the other things listed it was no where approaching $60,000. And remember it's cheaper to get those college credit classes in high school. Saved us a lot of money between AP English, German, Spanish and French, Biology, Calculus, US History and European. Plus when you test in they give you all the retroactive credits too.

    3. Yes, that is a ton of money for public high school and I don't think it is the norm.

      My oldest went for four years to public high school and it was about $8400 total, with the last two years having more expenses than the first two. She went to two fancy dances, bought yearbooks, participated in one extracurricular that involved a trip by airplane to St. Louis, took the SAT test and had to buy a graphing calculator (which she is still using in college). No sports, but some volunteer activities.

  34. For your Australian readers: From next week the cost of a postage stamp is going up from 60 cents to 70 cents. However if you have a concession card you can apply for a MyPost card which will give you 5 free stamps and allow you to purchase up to 50 stamps a year at 60 cents each. For more information go here:

  35. Cecile, I would only use the inheritance on the school loan at this time if you have a good emergency fund or investments that can be cashed in in case of emergency. Interest and payments on school loans are low. If you don't have much savings and pay all the inheritance on the loan, what if emergencies crop up during this period of income loss, such as unavoidable car or home repairs that must be paid in cash.? There are periods in life when cash on hand is your best security. If you hold on to the money and don't need it, you can always pay it on the debt after he is working again.

  36. Cecile, I agree with Paula keep the money close in a savings or checking account (life often makes us "feel" like we have to make a decision on something like this right away) if you keep it until he is back to work, then you can always pay the debt down after he is working again for awhile. Keep it close and use it only for true emergency (write down and define what is a true emergency in your family)(transportation? Someone in the family needs medical care? Heat and Air for the house? A roof? Make certain to define what an emergency is name top ten emergencies and then only tap the money if it is a true emergency)
    Otherwise just have it for safe keeping.
    Just keep certain to stay on budget and not use it on lifestyle while unemployed.

  37. What fun photos of your boys enjoying the trampoline and acting just as boys should! I love it! Your pictures really capture them. I am curious as to what you mean by you visit teach a lady? Anyway I listed my frugal things here on my blog: I'm working on preparations this week for a frugal bridal shower for my soon to be sister-in-law to be held Sunday afternoon. :)

  38. I was able to purchase clearance milk for .99 a gallon. I also used a coupon to get butter for 1.78/#. I purchased 18 ct eggs for 1.99. Sugar was on sale too but I can not remember the price.

    We ate lunch with family...we did not have to provide anything and they sent me home with a small amount of left overs and part of a gallon of milk.

    My mother in law cut all of my son's hair, my husbands and trimmed mine.

    I cooked a turkey from Christmas time in my crock pot. I work full time and have other way to get it cooked in time to eat at a decent hour. It was easy and very good.

    We ate dinner with friends. We provided drinks and dessert. I made homemade carrot cake and strawberry rhubarb crisp (frozen free rhubarb from last summer).

    I listened to Pandora, downloaded free kindle books and printed coupons

    I was able to combine manufacturers and target coupons to get a free bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner, inexpensive M&M's and peanuts.

    We sold our two trucks to purchase a new one. We get it on Wednesday. It will be nice to have warranties! We have never purchased a new vehicle so it is all very overwhelming!

    I needed jeans and dress pants and they were on sale for buy one get one half off. They had talls in the plus department which can be very hard to find in my small town. I wish I could find these at a thrift store but I guess no one gives them away because you have to wear them until they are safety pinned together and wearing through. We have a clothing budget that does allow for us to purchase non thrift store or rummage sale items once or twice a year for myself and my husband.

    Accepted a free bottle of water and a can of pop for my son when I got the oil changed in my car. I should now be able to make it until summer when my husband can do it in the garage. 8 degree weather does not make that possible in the winter. They also give wipes to clean off your dash.

    My husband helped some friends move an elderly relative and was given a check to cover gas and a little extra.

    cashed in my savingstar account balance for an amazon gift card to purchase a new book in the series I am reading aloud to my son

    enjoyed an ice cream social at my son's author came and we ate ice cream!

    I continue to wash all of my laundry in cold water and make sure the loads are full. I been using less and less detergent to see if I can cut back and save some money in that area.

    Flushed the kitchen drains with baking soda and vinegar.

    My son did his science fair project on which battery is the best based on voltage and price. Rayovac AA were cheaper than Duracell or Energizer when purchasing an 8 pack.

    I sure wish we had flowers, grass, a yard, anything that resembled spring. I'll even take mud and muck! We still have almost 4 feet of snow on the ground and more predicted for Wednesday. Our temperatures were well below zero this morning and the wind chill keeps staying below zero as well throughout the day. We still are wearing coats, mittens and hats to even run errands and the kids are for sure still in snow pants and boots. Thank you for showing me that we may indeed get nice weather!

  39. It has been a beautiful week here in Phoenix, as well. My husband and I have greatly enjoyed being out back looking at the flowers and listening to and watching the birds. We have a dove nest on a patio beam and have been enjoying watching the baby birds, now fledglings.

    We are really excited about the container garden we are putting in. My husband has done all of the labor such as digging the trenches for the drip lines. One of the planters already has heirloom tomato plants growing in it. I plan to put zucchini, more tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and basil in the new planters. We are hopeful we will have yummy vegetables to enjoy. I have been picking lettuce, spinach and onions from my other containers, along with grapefruit and tangelos from our trees. I have also picked snapdragons for fresh flowers for the table. We also bought a hanging container of a tumbling tom tomato. It's a cherry tomato with slender vines supposed to be ideal as a hanging plant. We'll see...I cut down a couple of plastic containers that cat litter came in, slipped their labels off, and now have spinach transplanted into free, bright green planters.

    I received a free magazine, South Beach meal bars and hand cream in the mail.

    Used coupons and sales to get discount on groceries including free candy for Easter, free ginger ale and $.25 for 4 pack of TP.

    As usual, I was able to download several free Kindle books.

    Sears sent me $8 in "surprise points" which I was able to use to get flip-flops and a top for my granddaughter for $1.28.

    Thank you, Brandy, and all for the comments! Have a great week!

  40. Okay--besides the normal things I do--like most of us that comment I think--
    I bought a ham on sale for $.99/pound.--Will make a big family dinner. :-)
    I darned a sock!!!!! I am super proud of that one as I had not thought it would go well. My husband wore it yesterday and he told me it performed just like before it had a hole. Hilarious! Success!

    1. Congratulations on the successful darning!

    2. Athanasia---Thanks very much !

  41. Last week I hosted my daughter's wedding shower. The theme was a mad hatters tea party. She is a big fan of Alice and Wonderland. I was able to raid my MIL's house for tea cups and saucers. I actually have inherited a couple of tea sets that we were able to use. We also used cloth table cloths and cloth napkins. I made chicken salad, egg salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, and cookies. We served tea and lemonade. The lemons for the lemonade were given to me from a friend's tree. The party was a success and did not break the bank!

    We ate all the leftovers from the shower.

    I cooked chicken breasts to slice for my son's sandwiches for lunches. I also made Brandy's taco soup, au gratin potatoes, pizza toasts, and muffins.

    My garden looks great. We are eating parsley, oranges that we have put in the fridge,lettuce, and cilantro. Soon I will have beets

    1. Your wedding shower sounds wonderful. I am glad you got it all figured out so frugally.

  42. I spent another week making a concerted effort to stick to our budget. Tracked every penny going in or out on my monster Excel spreadsheet. So far we're doing pretty well.

    Cooked at home all week, no one ate out at all. I took leftovers for lunch every day. Got a free lunch one day at a meeting at work.

    Offered to drive my coworkers to a meeting - the mileage reimbursement is far more than the cost of gas and wear and tear on my car. Also tracked all the little trips I take here and there for work so I can report my mileage next pay period. I don't usually do that with the little trips but they do add up quickly.

    Used amazon gift cards I got through Swagbucks (I get about $40 a month in Amazon cards plus $5 - $10 in Starbucks cards) to buy a new fan for my laptop. My hard drive also died but hubby found one in his box of misc. computer stuff and he was able to fix it all so it didn't cost us a penny.

    Used amazon gift cards from Swagbucks to pay for part of my mom's birthday gift and a Kindle book for me.

    Focused on turning off lights around the house. My husband and I are pretty good about this so it usually means following the five-year-old around and saying "LIGHTS!!!" LOL.

    Planted potatoes, onion sets, onion seeds, peas and leeks. Week before I planted radishes, beets, lettuce, and kohlrabi.

    Walked on my lunch breaks instead of running errands. Only used half a tank of gas again as a result.

    Focused the menu on using up produce that was going bad. Cleaned out the fridge so I have a better idea of what we actually have to work with.

    Mended two more pairs of my daughter's leggings.

    I'm sure there are other things but that's all I can think of at the moment! Have a great week everyone!

    1. Dear Bkeeps,
      I used to keep all my transactions on a huge Excel spreadsheet until I discovered Microsoft Money Plus(it is free) and super user-friendly. I down loaded it and it has made a world of difference in keeping up with our finances- constant comparison of income and expenses. The reports and comparisons are so much easier than Excel. I still use Excel spreadsheets to track grocery store prices and usage on detail items(like different brands of toilet paper and paper towels). You can set this up any way to your liking and it is so much easier. I did not want to dedicate myself to Quicken at this point. Microsoft no longer makes Microsoft Money Plus and I hope with all the Windows upgrades that I can continue to use it. You can import your info to Excel if you want to make comparisons with your last years figures. But you won't have to do that from here on out if the program continues to work with Windows in the future. I love it!!! (It is also easier than Quickbooks!) Sincerely, Debra from NC

    2. Thanks Debra - I'll take a look at that!

  43. My three-year-old slept in his brother's cloth diapers two nights to save on disposables.

    I tried washing my hair with baking soda and rinsing with vinegar! It seems to be working so far.

    Walked to the gym Friday instead of taking the car.

    Made bread to have with dinner last night and to make the boys' lunches with--which lets us stay away from the grocery store for a few more days!

    Checked out a bunch of library books for me and the kids, plus an e-audiobook I can listen to while I fold laundry and whatnot.

  44. I bought 4 packages of reduced for quick sale organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts at $4/lb; they are normally $7/lb. I froze them the same day.
    I made homemade sweetened condensed milk using the recipe from the Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn and used that for Magic Cookie Bars.
    I’ve decided to NOT raise plants from seeds in-doors this year because I keep our house pretty cool and even using a small electric heating pad made for seeds doesn’t keep them warm enough to germinate and grow strong. I will be buying tomato plants and maybe some others and will direct sow seeds for beans, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce and possibly other items in the garden.
    I have started monitoring my electric and gas usage throughout the month through my provider’s website. I have a smart meter and am able to see how much I used by hour as soon as the next day and can track and compare usage as far back as one year. The tracking can be done by cost of kilowatts/therms. Monitoring has convinced me that it’s okay to use the gas dryer because the cost is so low; I pay .562 cents per therm and so far has used only a couple dollars’ worth for the month. The $13 fee for the gas meter is my biggest gas cost. Using the dryer also takes out the wrinkles that my HE washer creates and saves me from most ironing. I will still put the bed linens and some other things on the clothes line because they smell so nice when they are on the bed, at least for one night.
    Thanks for this post every week. It is amazing to me how many things I now do because I read about them here or in the Tightwad Gazette.

    1. The Tightwad Gazette 1-3, are my all time favorite books.

    2. Mine too. I used to get the newsletters which I miss so very much, but I love The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and I am rereading it for...I was going to say the 10th time, but probably way more than that. Her advice is timeless!

  45. It was hard to be frugal this week. My oldest daughter had my beautiful new granddaughter. Trips everyday to the hospital and eating meals there wasn't cheap. On the other hand, the rest of the week was spent eating at home and shopping Aldi's. We always save a great deal with their veggie sales.

    We had 3 celebrations last week. Only one did we go out to eat. It was a great night to go out as the special was really good and the steak was delicious. My youngest got dessert for free and the whole restaurant sang to her. The other celebrations were at home. I did all the cooking and baking for these.

    Our family continues to recycle trash as well as saving water by reusing it. This cold weather has done a toll on our utility bills but we know one day it will warm up.

    My daughters love one curriculum choice that I can buy at B and N at a discount by signing up as a homeschooling teacher. They have already finished one and are asking for another. I won't complain as they have learned a lot of geography and history from them.

    I used your reading list to pull some books for my girls to enjoy. I read one myself! I find what I can from our library first. Thanks for the inspiration!

  46. Chava, you make me count my blessings. Fifty USD for a roast! I've never paid that for a cut of meat unless it was something really special to entertain for the holidays. Because we are still feeling the effects of the drought in our food supply chain, beef is currently--to us--very expensive. Chuck roast is at least four dollars a pound, which makes a decent size roast of at least three pounds about twelve to fifteen dollars. Ground chuck is five dollars a pound and ground round, which I usually use because there is no fat drain off, is ab out four fifty. You can save some by going to a warehouse club.

    Even though I can pay, I have cut my purchase of beef because it has just gotten too ridiculous. I don't see any sense in it. I have a freezer full of meat and only buy right now if there is a true need. I'm longing for the time when this cycle is over, beef is more plentiful, and prices fall.

    1. Paula,

      I didn't eat meat much in college and I didn't in Europe either for that reason. I had some wonderful meatless meals in France and Switzerland.

  47. My husband's birthday was Saturday, and my gift was taking all 3 kids to Grandma's for the day to give him peace and quiet.

    I made a large batch of pinto beans from dried in the slow cooker. I froze 3 pints and used the rest to make 16 bean and cheese freezer burritos for lunches.

    I used the Walgreens free 8 x 10 coupon code to make a picture of our newest daughter for our wall, and picked it up at the store to avoid paying shipping charges.

    I received free samples of dishwashing detergent in the mail.

  48. The most frugal thing I do every week is use coupons! I track all my progress by posting my finds every Saturday. This week it was free dental care, allergy pills, Nicorette gum, a very cheap Perdue roaster and much more. Full details and pics here

  49. I bought an 8.5 lb pork loin for $17 and turned it into 9 meals. I took pictures of how I cut it and posted to my gluten-free blog. I have been stocking my GF pantry for a year which can be difficult because GF food is often more expensive. My blog is if anyone wants to see the pork loin.

  50. This week has been a pretty good week in a lot of ways. Still watching closely any food waste and trying to make multiple meals. One fail, was I did have a few cookies that actually went to waste (they were just not that good) but my chickens did enjoy them. I also was able to score leftovers at work: Sliced turkey breast and extra stuffing and whole cranberry sauce, a large container of sliced red onions, steak and chicken fajita fixings, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, guacamole and fried peppers and onions. All of these meats will probably will make at least three meals for us, each. I was able to pick up free paper towels at CVS. Also received rebates on our electric bills. We currently have 3 separate accounts, two were applied to our current bill (still way to high this winter) and one was a check so I will deposit that into the bank account.

    We had one nice day on the weekend (temp in the 70's) and used that day to work outside in the yard/garden. Instead of buying any new decorative items I went ahead and did a fresh coat of paint on planters, statues, etc to freshen things up. Looking good now except it is snowing today... UGH! In the past I have wanted to purchase some large decorative garden urns, etc but did not want to have to pay the $20.00 and up prices so I purchased urn shaped lamps at the Goodwill for 2 to 3 dollars, removed the cords and light fixtures parts (saved them) and gave them a coat of paint and placed in the garden. Nice look for way less $$$.

    Doing the usual stuff also, washing ziplock bags, saving other plastic bags, alum pans, washing in cold water, saving all my 5.00 bills, only using 1 light when in the shower, turning off lights, opening and closing drapes to hold in heat or let in light, just the usual stuff.

    Love reading how everyone else is saving.. you all are a wealth of ideas and inspiration.

  51. Dear Miss Brandy and reviewers,

    I have not posted recently. I am focused on earning income. Currently I am working an "extra" job to reduce my debt. I will be working extra until the end of April for sure. Working 2 jobs and being a single parent is tiring and time consuming. With that perspective here are my frugal activities

    Stayed at home for spring break-I worked extra when the kids were at activities.
    Able to stretch the tank of gas for the week to almost 2 weeks
    My oldest got a job so will be able to save for a car and college
    College waived my daughter's enrollment fee and saved us $200
    Ate food for breakfast I made in early March
    Bought cantaloups for 88 cents each
    Made most meals at home
    Make "sack" lunches for kids over spring break to save money as well as time
    Went to the library and checked out DVDs
    Went to 3 dollar movies for our special entertainment at spring break
    Made popcorn 4 different ways as snacks at spring break
    Made more scarves for my blue and gold 21 scarf project
    My oldest cooked several dinners for the family (saved me time and allowed me to rest))
    I continue to put change in my change jar
    Harvest sage, basil, and oregano from my indoor garden
    Turned off the heat for last 2 weeks
    Made 2 more larger bunnies for Easter baskets

    I believe that is all. I did earn several extra hundred dollars to put towards debt.

    Miss Brandy your garden is beautiful and joyful to look at even via photos on your blog. I imagine the visitors were quite impressed. Is the garden a joint adventure with all your family members contributing or do you do most of the garden work.

    Blessing to everyone during the Lent season. Next month I have a birthday and I have encourage/request from my children to make me art work so I may decorate a wall in my room with the projects. One of my goals this year is to decorate my room and I have plans for a wall to put artwork. The theme of my room is crafts.


    1. I'm glad you were able to make some extra money!

      I do most of the work in the garden. My husband helps me prune and there are a few things the children can do, but I do most of it.

  52. Question: what do you do on an at home date? :)

    1. Linda, on my website I wrote about that:

  53. * got my starter seeds planted
    * got 2 free items at the grocery with coupons (powerade and 7th gen dish soap)
    * made homemade pizza, bread, breakfast cookies, popcorn
    * packed lunches and sent water bottles (reusable)
    * blessed another family in our community with a bunch of samples we weren't using (and good for decluttering)
    * enjoyed a neighborhood walk when the sun was out (back to rain now)

  54. Linda, Brandy--and others here-- have written a lot about date nights at home. My perspective is different, as we have no children and usually have total privacy, so a part of most every night is "date night" at home. It's just taking time to really enjoy each others company and have fun together,however you choose, rather than letting obligations and distractions keep you from doing so.

    We could go out more often if we chose--especially if we made it inexpensive-- but truly enjoy the quiet and safety of home, a good dinner, a little TV or video, a lot of conversation, music and romance.

    And date night can just as easily be date morning or date afternoon if that works for you. Whenever you have the time and inclination to do something enjoyable together.

  55. Hello all! This past wk was not very frugal as we went out of town. We drove 4.5 hrs to see my hubbys best friend and family. We enjoyed eating out twice w them at places we do not have here in CT. (chifila & hardees-YUM!)
    - my hubby lowered the heat to 55 before we left.

    -i did enjoy the sunrise and a sunset. It was the most incredible pink at sunset.
    -i have had a cold but used OTC meds I got for free.
    - i was able to get 6 bags of shredded cheese for 75¢ each. All kraft but using military commissary coupon. I also bought 4 pkgs of quick sale beef. (2steaks, 1 flank and 2lbs of g beef avg 2.50/lb)
    I have been seeing beef increase over the past 3 wks at the commissary and told my friend that it was anywhere btwn $1-$2 increase. I was hoping it was temp. But now after reading the article on msn money and again on brandys facebk... Looks like this may be the norm.
    -I used my $25 paypal swagbucks to order flour tortillas. I know these arent hard to make and the mexican in me is slightly embarassed. But these tortillas are the best!
    -i made $13 thru facebk yard sale.
    -we had a free est for gutters. Nowhere near what we have paid in our other houses. But maybe its just expensive CT. i plan on getting 2 more estimates.
    - we are planning on clearing out our storage unit... The one that was meant to be temp but now has turned into over a yr. We have sold alot but still need to clean up and better organize the garage to make room. It will take us a couple more wks but will save us $110/ mo.
    -continue to air dry and light wash on dishwasher. Has been an easier transition than expected.( esp w/ my girls)
    -i bot one new box of baggies. I have washed 3.
    -i made 2.50 in can deposits from neighbors.

  56. This week I;

    - used Money Saving Mom's tip to get a free 8x10 print from Wallgreens of my two nieces so that when they come to my house they can see that I love them so much that I keep a big pic of them on my piano:)
    - used MSM tip to order a free custom calendar for my mom for Mother's Day. It was only $6 for shipping as compated to $22.
    - I bought gift cards at Safeway since it was giving 4 points for each dollar spent on gift cards. Then I used the points to get .70 off per gallon on gas and saved around 11.00. I bought Amazon gift cards to use for the things I buy each month on Subscribe and Save, so it was money I would have spent anyway
    - bought greeting cards for .50 each at the Cancer Care Alliance Thrift Shop. I used one and then saw the same card for sale at the drug store for $2.95.
    - used a credit to buy a gift
    - downloaded a free book to read on my trip out of town
    - entered a contest for a free e-book and won!
    - made home made granola from the recipe on this site
    - taking a free 5 day class at the Mac store
    - continue to collect clothes that my daughter has grown out of, launder then and iron with sizing to pass down to my nieces

  57. I bought 8 pounds of dried beans, cooked a double batch in the slow cooker. Only spend 1/3 grocery budget. Got ww bread for 99c on the deal rack and froze 5 loaves. Lowered bills a bit this month, will keep working, they have creeped up. I wonder if the price for electricity has risen? Got my daughter shoes for dance second hand.
    I would love to be able to plant something soon!

    1. You can look at your electric bills and compare the rates over the last few months--as well as this bill and last year's bill of the same time---and find that out right away.

  58. I took a nice vacation, 8 hours away, to visit friends for a few days this last week. I was able to make all of our food for the trip, there and back, with a planned stop at a restaurant on the way home. We were able to stay in a camper on our friends' property for free, instead of renting a motel room. We ate all our meals with our friends in their house. We took some food to share and bought a little more at the grocery store while there, instead of going out to eat. It was super fun and frugal!

  59. Y'all are making me feel like a dinosaur with all this talk of budgeting software. I use a notebook and a pencil. One page for each payday, which at this point in our lives means one page for social security day and one for pension day. In the front of this notebook is a list that reminds me what day different insurances, etc. are due. I continually budget for everything. For instance, if something is due annually, I set aside 1/12 of it each month. I keep a list clipped to my checkbook register that tells me at a glance how much of the money is being held for certain things, and I change that notation after money has been spent. Not at all high tech, but it works. The key is organization, no matter what method you use.

    1. I'm 25 and am better at using pen and paper :) so I'm with you!

  60. The greatest thing I did this week to save money was trade some items I can not move with me for more packing materials (furniture blankets) boxes and padding. Other than that it has been a rather expensive time. We ate all meals at home except two (one was my son's award ceremony but my husband and I shared a sandwich so our out of pocket was only $20.00) It was nice to see our son get his awards. We have three more celebrations coming up we are wearing clothing we already have, our son is paying for one of the meals and we are paying for one and one has a meal included in the ticket price. Parking fees are outrageous for graduation parking alone was $20.00 how outrageous is that ! My son got us a pass so we do not have to pay (His Dad is disabled so he will get a handicap spot so zero cost to park our car that night! Thank goodness with all of the moving cost and some other unexpected fees that came up I'm not certain where it was all going to come from. Paula I would love to hear about how much your fixed income is, I find it amazing anyone can manage on a fixed income.

  61. PS : Paula,

    I love low tech pencil and paper!

  62. Hi Paula. I am just starting to budget, but I long for the old days when all we had was a check book with very little money in it and few bills. We mostly wrote checks and used a little cash. Now we have a large family and there are several ways to pay for things (cash, check, debit card, credit card, auto withdrawal etc.) I'm trying to figure out how to budget with all of these different things. (Like when I'm at the store and I buy something for a teen and he or she pays me back or when I get cash back.) I get all mixed up. I think your notebook and pencil sound heavenly. Take care! Liz :)

  63. Robert, normally I would not give an explicit answer to that on a public forum, but I have been reading your comments long enough to know that you genuinely need and deserve an answer and will gladly oblige. Our income last year was $31,000. Next year it will drop to a little over $29,000 when my husband stops getting a small disability stipend from his company's disability insurer. (This stipend is not part of our budget; it is deposited directly to our savings account.) Our income would be about $250 more a month, but my husband took a smaller monthly pension so that if I am widowed, I will get as much as I can possibly get. We have money in an IRA in case of really big expenses such as needing a roof, heating and air system, vehicle, etc.

    We are in Arkansas, and our state tax structure is pretty good to retirees. Also, there isn't much tax on Social Security.

    I have been paying $137 a month since last May on expenses involving my mother's estate. This will end when my brother gets the house listed and sold. My half of the proceeds will give us some much needed extra security. It will not be blown on new cars or an expensive vacation.

    Our total annual outlay for all insurance ( Husband's medicare, drug plan, medicare supplement, my ACA insurance, three life insurances, liability for two vehicles, homeowner's insurance) is over $8,000, and we still live well by being frugal and budgeting. We don't go on trips or out to movies and other night life, but we eat good food, buy books and music and eat out a reasonable amount. We both have hobbies. I am a card maker and my husband is a ham radio operator and photographer.

    I know that to some of you who live in expensive areas, this sounds like poverty. It isn't, we are fairly comfortable, barring the occasional "disaster." Bear in mind that we paid off our home before retirement and have NO debt. We drive well maintained OLD cars. There's a mechanic outside replacing a wiper motor on my husband's truck as I write.

    I am a VERY nit picky budgeter. For instance, I set aside a little over four dollars a month to pay the annual safe deposit box bill. Doesn't seem like bothering with, I'm sure, but I never have to worry about what day the bank takes their money come September, as I've already saved it up. Absolutely every regular expense, such as any kind of insurance, property taxes, etc., I set aside 1/12 each month. We are on average monthly billing for both electric and natural gas. My budgets are steady. I set aside an amount for vehicle maintenance in the monthly budget. My husband stuck his head in the door a while ago and asked if we could spend $170 for this repair. I said yes, but it was only just now that I remembered we have nearly that much in the repair fund anyway. I like it when I get pleasant little surprises like that.

    By being so organized and picky about budgeting ahead for the necessary expenses, we are able to know how much of our money each month is "extra" and can enjoy some of life's small pleasures in good conscience. Hope this helps.

    Now I'm waiting for someone from NYC or somewhere to tell me we would be homeless on this income where they live. LOL

    1. Paula, that was kind of you to share.

    2. Robert, I left out a couple of points. One, the main concept that Brandy teaches here, storage of food bought at bargain prices, has been so very important to us over the years. At anytime, if there is a sudden financial emergency and it becomes necessary, I can simply stop buying anything for a good long while, freeing up money for whatever the need might be. In our working days, there were several times, due to layoff or illness, that there was a suddenly reduced income and we lived off stored food and ran our home off stored supplies.

      Second, you might try thinking differently about what it means to live on a fixed income. In the recession of 1980, manufacturing was hit hard. My husband was on layoff for thirteen straight months, plus several months in 1981. At that time, people who had already made their money were drawing 14% interest on their CD's. While my husband was desperately looking for work and the clock was ticking on his unemployment benefits, retired people constantly complained about "being on a fixed income." We came to consider this the whining of the fortunate and said if we were ever fortunate enough to get to the place where we HAD a fixed income, we would consider it a blessing, and we still DO! It is a blessing to not have to worry about layoffs, short work weeks, plant closings, and the like. We are fortunate to have a fixed income and it is our job to know how to live on it.

    3. I needed to be reminded of the lessons you shared in these words. Thank you.

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  65. Robert, you remind me of one of the things I have to be most grateful for, my dear, good husband of forty one years. Working together with a good person does make a difference. My husband's brother made a bad first marriage and I can see so many ways that it has impacted his situation and kept him behind where he should be at his age. His second wife is a gem. I'm glad you have a good partner now. At least you went from bad to good for the third act of your life.

  66. Here is a tip that might help some if they are in a very busy time in life. When traveling and moving I pack drinks and applesauce and fruit cups that way when we stop and get sandwiches from a place to eat the total cost is lower at the fast food. We can eat at picnic tables. My favorite place for sandwiches is either subway or arby's as I feel the food is better for my family. So when traveling I pack enough for days and sandwiches for only the first meal after that we stop and get just sandwiches.


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