Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I can’t believe that we are passed the half way point in January. The days have really flown by. I hate to wish my life away, but I do long for spring and the warmer days ahead. Until then, I am appreciating the coziness of home. We have a fire constantly going, as that is our main heat source this year. I allow myself to settle in at night, with a cup of tea and a mutually agreed upon series on a streaming service with my husband. We are finally watching The Sopranos. I asked him why we waited so long. When I looked the series start date up online, I found that it premiered the week my daughter was born. That answered my question. I wasn’t doing much of anything that wasn’t kid related until about 2010!

With January nearing the end, I am already planning a grocery store trip. The annual freezer and pantry clean out continues and things are starting to clear out. Until then, here is a list of our Frugal Friday roundup:

  1. I had to give in and go to the store for some items. My daughter’s birthday dinner was on Sunday and she requested vegan cheeseburger macaroni. I did not have Beyond Beef or vegan cheddar. I also needed some eggs and bananas. The food co-op had some organic vegetables on clearance, so I threw some of those in my cart as well. Total spent was $40. That brings our grocery bill total to January to $42.57. Not bad for a family of 4.
  2. My daughter is getting an apartment this summer. I bought her a Penzey’s gift set to get started on her own spice collection. I found a 4 year old Penzey’s giftcard with $20 on it which I applied to the total. I have a pile of giftcards that have assorted balances on them that I need to be better about using.
  3. I do not understand when my husband starts giving me in depth details about anything electrical. My understanding is that a fuse blew and could not be salvaged. He knows how to replace it, so instead of hiring an electrician, he ordered the fuse and replaced it himself.
  4. Spent yesterday cooking and baking. I have mastered a whole grain flax seed bread recipe that actually seems to work. I also made a peach galette with peaches I canned over the summer and bbq glazed salmon with a bbq sauce I canned in the summer. Those foods I took the time to preserve 6 months ago are coming in handy now. Today I will be make a batch of chicken noodle soup. I have another friend with COVID and promised to bring her some.
  5. I signed up for Imperfect Foods. I have heard people raving about it, that a membership is both a money saver and time saver. I thought I would give it a try. I don’t care of my carrots are a funny shape, as long as they are edible. Our first delivery will be on January 29, just a few days shy of the end of the pantry challenge. By then, I am going to need to give in. The timing is perfect.

That’s about it for now. Today is super cold in Wisconsin, so I plan on spending the majority of the day at home. I have a couple errands to run, including taking our foster dog to the vet. But I should be settled into my cozy home by 3:30 today. Perfect end to the week.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

  1. I received a second payment from the Bought Milk class action settlement. It wasn’t a lot, $18.90. I applied it to our Century Springs water bill for the month. Every bit counts.
  2. Continued with the pantry and freezer clean out. Some of our best dinners have happened because I get creative with what I have on hand. Chicken breast and Boursin cheese make a great combination. I did need to go to Kwik Trip for bananas and eggs. Total spent was $2.47.
  3. Did you know that pickle brine makes a pretty great chicken marinade? I had no idea until I tried it last week. I used it to make copycat Chick-fil-a sandwiches for dinner. I won’t go to Chick-fil-a for personal reasons. But, I have heard they have a great sandwich. The sandwiches turned out really good.
  4. I asked our insurance agent to rerun some quotes for us. He did, and with a new auto insurance product that he has, our car insurance went down $200 per month! Our coverage increased and our deductible went down. Seriously, call your agent.
  5. Car rides have been reduced to driving to and from work. Until this most recent wave goes down, we are sticking to home. Again. However, I am really sick of putting my life on hold to avoid getting sick. I will keep doing it because I am a textbook rule follower. But that doesn’t mean I like it.

What did you do this week to make your money go further? Are you doing the pantry challenge? Sticking close to home? Visiting your library more? Let me know if there is something I am missing.

Frugal Living, Recipes

Korean Rice Bowl

One of the nice things about working at a library is that I see nearly everything that goes in and out our doors. Yesterday, I came across a vegan cookbook that I decided to give a quick look. The book opened to a recipe for Korean Tempeh Bowls. It looked delicious, but I quickly realized that I did not have all of the ingredients to make it at home. I didn’t let that stop though, I checked out the cookbook and decided to make substitutions. The result was a really good and healthy meal. I used only what I had on hand and kept my January pantry challenge intact. I also found out at work that I am not the only one participating in this challenge. I am not sure if it is COVID, the really cold weather in Wisconsin or the New Year, but the January pantry challenge seems to be a thing!

Korean Tempeh and Rice Bowl

1.5 cups white rice


8 ounces tempeh

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1.5 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp pepper flakes

1 tbsp vegetable oil


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables

1 bag frozen broccoli


sesame seeds, siracha, pepper flakes, chopped peanuts.


Cook the rice according to instructions. While rice is cooking make the marinade for the tempeh. Cut tempeh into cubes and let marinate for about 15 minutes. Once done marinating, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Remove tempeh, being sure to reserve the marinade. Put tempeh in skillet and cook until all sides are crispy, turning often. This will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Put finished tempeh on a plate. Add a little more oil to skillet and add vegetables. Stir frequently and medium heat. Once vegetable are tender, add marinade and let simmer about 4 minutes.

Serve over rice and add desired toppings.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Well, the new year is off to a great start as far as saving money. Here is the roundup of what we saved.

  1. We spent New Year’s Eve at home. Dinner was frozen pizza and salad. I watched reruns of Sex and the City. My husband and daughter played board games. I was asleep well before the clock struck 2022. I do like to wake up early on the first day of the year in order to get a jump start on things.
  2. I paid my Mint Mobile bill for the year. $165 for 12 months. Seriously, if you don’t have Mint Mobile, you are overpaying for cell phone coverage.
  3. My daughter being home for Christmas break means that our free supply of coffee is back.
  4. I have a gym membership that also offers streaming and on demand workouts. I am taking advantage of that service as well as visiting the gym. I do yoga and meditation at home. I save time and gas money, in addition to utilizing even more of the services provided by my gym.
  5. I mended three pairs of jeans instead of throwing them out and buying new. Back to my goal of not buying new clothes and getting off of the fast fashion carousel.

What did you do this first week of 2022 to save some money?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

2021 is going by in a flash. I can’t believe we are approaching mid August. My youngest is going back to college soon. We had a wonderful summer. I haven’t been blogging, mostly because I just wanted to remain present with my family. But, with the expenses that fall brings, it’s probably time to kick start my frugal ways. Here is a list of the things we have done to save money this week.

  1. We lost power for 38 hours. Does that count? I mean, the electric bill alone should see a savings with the absolute need for air conditioning right now. Our neighbors have a generator and they let us store our perishables at their house. Thank goodness. We only lost 2 almost empty containers of ice cream, about a half cup of coffee creamer and some leftovers that were destined for the garbage, with power.
  2. We are planning to move all of our cell phones to mint mobile by the end of the month. I am embarrassed that we didn’t do this sooner. Annual savings is about $1500!
  3. I canned or froze nearly 50 pounds of peaches for winter. We have a healthy inventory of plain peaches, jam and bbq sauce now. The sauce is sublime.
  4. We are really starting to buy more and more in bulk. I am figuring out what we will use and what will keep for an extended period of time. I have had a few misses, but that is to be expected.
  5. My husband completely remodeled our half bath. He bought nearly everything from Habitat for Humanity restore. He found a Kohler sink with faucet for $15! Total cost for a full remodel was $500. We are in the process of updating our house, slowly, and one room at a time. Of course he gave up his time for the remodel, but he claims not to mind.

That’s about it for today. What did you do to save money?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Happy Spring! I love this time of year. Everything is coming back to life, the days are longer and the excitement for fresh produce is on my mind.

After months of pounding the pavement, my son got a job! We are so incredibly proud of him. He was a recent college graduate during the worst job market in at least a decade. He continued to forge forward, not letting it get him down. It’s so weird how our kids evolve into adults so gradually, that when they have reached that huge milestone into adulthood, a first job in their chosen career, that you don’t notice how much they have changed until that moment. While I know our jobs are not ever done as a parent, I know that the hard, in the parenting trenches work, is done. I am not too humble to say that we did a fine job.

Enough of that now, on to our round up of frugal choices this week:

  1. Since life is gradually going back to normal and merchants are allowing cash again, we have gone back to paying for nearly everything in cash. I know a few places still require credit card payment only. Our vet and the place I get my oil changed at come to mind.
  2. I joined AARP. Yes, I am celebrating that milestone in the month of April. Unlike the majority of my friends who refuse to join on principle, I have no principles. If admitting my age will get me a 10% discount at Denny’s, I’m all in.
  3. Every member of my family has received at least one dose of the covid vaccine. My daughter has had both, I am scheduled to get my second on Easter. By May 1st, all of us will be considered fully vaccinated. While we will not go back to business as usual, will continue to wear masks in public and forgo restaurant dining, I know I will rest easier knowing we have done everything in our power to stay safe. For those who say we are letting fear dictate our choices, I respond with hell yes we are. If the choices are wearing a mask in public vs. possibly dying alone, I will wear the mask.
  4. Our little beagle has disc disease, so we have been doing everything we can for her. The surgical options are just a. too expensive and b. not a guarantee. Today, we are going to try acupuncture on her. It is going to be pricey, but not spinal surgery pricey. There is a lot of information out there saying that this is an effective treatment for her. Fingers crossed. We have her pain managed, but not perfectly. She needs to get back to some kind of normal life.
  5. Both of my girls had to fill out their FAFSA this year for their scholarships. Both of them received unexpected grants! That was a very nice surprise.

That’s all for your now. Happy Easter.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

This week was not frugal. Not at all. Our sweet little beagle, Mazy, has IVDD. IVDD is a disc disorder found it dogs, but most common is short legged dogs like beagles. This diagnosis came after many trips to the vet and a lot of sleepless nights. Anyway, her bills are stacking up, and will continue to do so, as we are not ready to give up on her. Because of this, more than ever, we need to save our pennies.

  1. Freezer is nearly empty. We have nearly gone through everything in it. Creativity is key when you find a frozen bag of shredded yellow squash! Once empty, we will defrost the freezer and give it really good cleaning before filling it again.
  2. We are having our fireplace repaired and a blower will be added. It will be able to heat up to 2000 square feet. It is happening a little late in year, but next winter it will come to great use. I am hoping for a smaller heating bill.
  3. Our aerogardens and mushroom plants are going gangbusters! It is so nice to have fresh food, that you grew yourself, in the winter.
  4. My husband has started the seed for our summer garden. I can already taste the fresh eggplant.
  5. After years of buying coffee makers that break down after a year, we bought a stovetop percolator. If something breaks, replacement parts are available. The coffee isn’t bad either.
Our Mazy

That’s it for us. Please send our little Mazy your positive energy, she could use it.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I never got around to posting a Frugal Friday roundup last week. Here it goes:

  1. We are seriously going through the food stockpile. In the month of February we spent less than $300 on groceries. Will be very interesting to see how low we can go in March. We have a lot of food from the last year of “hoarding” in event of an emergency.
  2. Saved $100 at the vet this week, using the $100 credit on out account for using their app.
  3. Checked out the library book sale room and found 4 DVDs for $1 each. One of them was a blockbuster movie, still in the packaging.
  4. Members of my family are starting to qualify for the covid vaccine. My daughter got her shot today. I am scheduled for Sunday. Is this frugal? Not really. But, life is slowly going to return to normal and I thought deserved a shout out.
  5. Food waste for this week was one orange and about 1/4 cup butternut squash. I am getting so much better with using everything and not letting anything go to waste.

What did you do this week to save some money?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a snowy and cold week it was. Nothing like crappy weather to keep you at home, refraining from spending money. This was a good week for us. I sure love to see us save the dollars.

  1. For $36 and two hours, my husband fixed our dryer. The belt broke and instead of having a repairman, it was determined DIY would be okay. While the dryer was taken apart, we cleaned out all the lint. Truth be told, I am a little surprised we never had a fire. That dryer had a lot of lint.
  2. I used the beeswax from our beehives to make candles. I really like making candles. In fact, I am going to be teaching a candle making class at the library I work at in April.
  3. For some reason Kohl’s sent me $20 in Kohl’s cash via email along with a 30% off code. So, I used it to buy pajamas. I only paid for the tax.
  4. We spent Valentine’s Day at home. Not unexpected given that restaurant dining is not advised. But, I made a wonderful, restaurant quality meal. On the menu was tenderloin, twice baked potatoes with cheese, kale salad and homemade heart shaped sugar cookies.
  5. Spent lots of time putting puzzles together and watching movies from the library to keep busy. We have a puzzle swap at work now, such a fun way to get new puzzles without spending money.

What did you do this Valentine’s week to save money?

Frugal Living

Things My Family Does to Save Money

My family and I have a list of things we do in order to save money. In the last year (can you believe it has been a year?) we have gotten even better at saving and living frugally. I also think that living a frugal life leads to a more satisfying life. To slow down and appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t is satisfying. We are certainly not perfect. I have been known to go down the Amazon rabbit hole and purchase things I don’t need. But just like weight loss and exercise, you can try again. Here is just a few of the things we do:

  1. My husband makes a big batch of something every couple of weeks and freezes it in individual containers for his lunch. Chili is his favorite. But he we will mix it up with options like chicken curry. We buy the meat in bulk and most of the time, he uses vegetable we have on hand. Most of the time, he freezes two weeks worth of meals in sour cream and cottage cheese containers we have saved for that purpose.
  2. Don’t waste food. Turn old vegetables into broth, milk into yogurt or fruit into ice cream topping.
  3. I am in two book clubs, both via zoom for now. I get all of my books from the library or audible. To be in a book club is free. Twice a month I spend time with friends, laughing and discussing books. We meet without fail, on a specific date. You don’t have to spend a lot of money in a restaurant or bar to socialize with friends.
  4. Audit your insurance premiums on a regular basis. Every other year I contact our insurance agent to make sure our premiums are correct. Every single time, he has found that our cost to rebuild our home is too high for the area we live in. We have received several refund checks over $150 over the years. I also take my kids on and off our auto insurance based on if they are at school. I am not going to pay for auto insurance that is not being used.
  5. Do you have cable and every streaming service out there? We cut our cable. We utilize the streaming services, a lot of them actually. But, we stay home a lot and enjoy movie night at home, with home cooked meals, in our pajamas.
  6. I roll errands into one day. The environmentalist in me is more the reason for this choice. But, it saves us a lot of money. It is not uncommon for us to go several weeks without have to fill our gas tanks. I have Thursdays off of work, so on that day I do the grocery shopping and any other errands that need to be done.
  7. Look into the rewards programs at local businesses. Our vet has such a program. Reward points are given with each dollar spent and when we reach a certain point, a $100 credit is placed on our account. It’s an easy way to make money off of money you already have to spend.
  8. Enjoy the simple things, like doing a puzzle or playing a board game at home. I am always exchanging puzzles with people.
  9. Turn your thermostat down. Ours is set at 68 during the day and 60 at night. I will admit to adjusting that the last couple weeks as the midwest is in a serious deep freeze. I do not want to wake up to frozen pipes because saving a few dollars was more important. Sometimes you have to spend a little extra to avoid spending a lot.
  10. Cancel subscriptions your don’t use.
  11. Plant a garden in the summer and preserve it for the winter. Take advantage of local fruits and vegetable you aren’t growing yourself when in season and preserve. We are still eating canned tomatoes, red peppers, salsa, pasta sauce, jams, pie fillings, apple sauce and countless other summer treasures. So far, I know that I did not make enough pasta sauce, canned tomatoes and jams. We have A LOT of relish though.
  12. Make your own cleaning products with baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and vodka. The internet has an endless supply of recipes to make these things at home.
  13. Automate savings. We have a certain amount of money taken out of our checking account and invested into a mutual fund every two weeks. We have learned to live without that money. We also have been having money invested into 529 plans for our kids since 1999. Our oldest graduated in December. When we paid his final tuition payment in September, we just took that amount and started to apply to the account of our middle child. Once she graduates, number three will get the full amount invested every month.
  14. In the summer use the sun and wind to dry your laundry. It is completely free.
  15. Take up a hobby that also provides home goods. I have been making my own candles and taught myself how to make soap recently.
  16. Utilize Goodwill. I will admit that I don’t do this. But my husband and daughters do and they save a lot of money on clothing. Personally, I do not have the patience to go through everything. I wish I did.

I know I have missed a lot of ideas. Please send me anything I have missed, I love hearing what other people do.