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.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Happy Valentine’s weekend! I love Valentine’s Day. I am not sure why, I think my love of hearts and the colors of the holiday have a lot to do with it. We are in the midst of a cold snap that is beginning to feel like it will never end. We haven’t seen double digit temperatures in at least a week. I am a firm believer in climate change, but when it gets this cold, I have to remind myself that extreme cold is also a sign of a warming planet.

We had a pretty frugal week. Here is the rundown of our savings.

  1. My car battery is giving me a lot of trouble, which is no surprise given the cold. I almost bought a new battery, but the sales guy at Auto Zone suggested a battery charger first for $100 less. He told me that if it doesn’t work, I can get a refund. Well, it worked.
  2. I made a huge batch of lavender soap. It smells wonderful.
  3. I also made beeswax and soy candles, using essential oils for fragrance.
  4. Last Sunday I made a roasting chicken and with it I made chicken stroganoff, chicken soup (that provided 3 meals) and chicken broth.
  5. I spent today cleaning out closets and getting rid of stuff we don’t need. I cannot believe how much crap we accumulate. We need to be better about throwing stuff out that we no longer need.

What did you do this week to save money?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a week! I dropped my youngest off at college last weekend. No matter how many times I do that, it never gets easier. I miss her so much when she is gone. I don’t like to let her see me sad when I leave, so I have a tendency to save those tears until I am safely in the car.

We had a wonderful time together though. We went to the city her school is in a day early. We stayed in a hotel (a first in a year). I found it to be safe, as no one was really around and we just went from our car to our room. We were able to visit my parents for dinner for the first time in a year. We spent the day shopping, having lunch, talking and laughing. It was such a nice way to spend our weekend together.

I certainly did not save a lot of money because of this, but pennies were saved elsewhere:

  1. We are going through the freezer vegetables from our summer garden and the canned goods. I made a delicious zucchini bread using apple butter I made with local apples.
  2. We had some milk way passed it’s peak. Eric used it in two loaves of bread and a batch of yogurt.
  3. We managed to shave $90 off of our energy bill this month. I think it probably has something to do with the fact that our dryer belt broke and we are still waiting for the part. All laundry is being air dried right now.
  4. I remembered to take my daughter off our auto insurance, which in turn takes her off our umbrella policy, saving us about $200. Remembering to review insurance is always an easy to save money.
  5. Utilized several rewards dollars again this week from Walgreens, Kohl’s and our local food co-op.

I am so excited that I write this as we enter the month of February. Proper spring weather is still several weeks, if not a couple months away. But, I look forward to being able to be outside again, so my son can start coming home again. During COVID, he hasn’t been home. Since we live in a cold climate, we are required to be indoors most of the time. Making it tough to have the family dinners we are so used to having together.

What did you do this week to save money?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I can’t believe that this is the last Friday in January. 2021 seems to be flying by even faster than 2020. Today I will be taking my youngest back to school to resume her freshman year of college. My oldest is searching for a job since graduation and my middle child has already started her second semester. Before you know it, summer will be here and my nest will be 2/3 full, yet again. We were able to keep things pretty frugal this week.

  1. I did not have to go to the grocery store for anything this week. We have a major food stockpile, acquired when we feared the worst during the pandemic. Getting through our stockpile instead of grocery shopping is not an option. But, we are no longer panic buying either.
  2. When cleaning out drawers, I found several unused giftcards! What a nice surprise. McDonalds (which I will only use for ice cream), Penzey’s and Applebee’s cards were all found with a balance.
  3. Much to my husband’s horror (he’s in IT security), I sign up for all the frequent shopper programs out there for free stuff. I used some Pottery Barn cash back for a set of beautiful pillow shams for our bed.
  4. I signed up for a one month free trial of audible (again). A Promised Land by Barack Obama needed to be read to me by the author. My Obama crush is real.
  5. This final one…..I don’t know if comes from being frugal. Or the fact that my husband is one of the most stubborn and focused human beings I know. My daughter’s car got stuck in snow and it seemed that it would likely be there until spring. It was that bad. I was ready to call a tow truck and pay to have the car removed. After 2 hours, several flattened boxes, tools I didn’t know existed and sheer will power, that car was moved. He absolutely would not pay to have it towed. He is paying the price this morning though, as every muscle in his body hurts.

So that’s it for this week. My lists just are not what they used to be since we can’t go anywhere. I always love the research it takes to find entertainment and such for free. I have hope those days will return and before you know it, I will be eating a delicious dinner in a restaurant again.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a week this was! To say I am happy, ecstatic and relieved would be an understatement. There is an adult in the White House again and while things will not improve over night, I no longer fear a 2:00 am twitter temper tantrum is going to bring on WW3. To top it off, my parents are getting vaccinated today. I feel like I won the lottery. It will still be a long time for me, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine brighter with each passing day.

It’s been awhile since I did a Frugal Friday, but thought today would be a good day to go through what we have done to save some cash.

  1. I have 2 pair of jeans that had some holes in them. In the past, I am ashamed to say, I would just toss them. I actually repaired them with patches and my trusty iron. I never trusted my repair skills enough to try to fix clothing that I would wear in public. But, the patches are barely noticeable and I save 2 pair of pants.
  2. I have a wholesale membership with Doterra and I have a friend with a wholesale membership with Shaklee. We have started to trade goods. With Doterra I get a lot of free product. She likes certain oils, so I swap with her for cleaning products. So far it has been a serious win win. I know Doterra is expensive, but I buy the vitamins and probiotics which I have found to be higher quality than those you find at the drugstore. The oils are fun, but not the motivation for the membership. I get a few “free” oils every month and I just don’t need them.
  3. With the exception of my daughter’s birthday this month, we have eaten every single meal at home. No takeout of any kind. Sometimes I feel bad because I know those restaurants need us. But, during this pandemic, I have come to prefer my own cooking. When we can actually go to a restaurant, I will be up for restaurant food again.
  4. I bought the ingredients for homemade face moisturizer. I am going to give it a try. Stay tuned for a review.
  5. I have been using the library more than ever. I use Hoopla and Libby, provided to me by the library, for audiobooks. We have been checking out movies, books and a hotspot on a weekly basis. According to the final 2020 receipt, we had saved over $12,000. I think that number is higher when you take into account extras, for say the movies. If we were to go to the theatre we would also buy snacks. We probably would have eaten out first and possible went out for drinks after. I also check out cookbooks first, before buying one that I have my eye on. More than a couple have been eliminated from my to buy list.

What did you do to start the year off frugally?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

  1. I roasted a chicken on Saturday. I turned the bones into chicken stock and was able to get two dishes out of the chicken, which in turn became leftovers for lunch. I made chicken noodle soup and white chicken chili. I even sent some home with my son for lunch later in the week.
  2. I turned some overripe bananas into banana cake. I try to make a nice dessert on Sundays when we have family dinner night. I got the recipe from the cookbook Scandikitchen: Fika and Hygge. I know, the whole hygge thing is really gimmicky. But, I like the desserts, candles and cozy pictures. Again, we had way too much leftover cake, so my son was able to take some home.
  3. I went through the refrigerator on Saturday and threw all the vegetables that were looking funky into a crockpot and made vegetable stock. Our CSA keeps sending odd looking Asian root vegetables. I am an adventurous eater. But sometimes, you just have to accept that no matter how you try, that particular vegetable will not work in stir fry.
  4. Went to a local treasure, Holy Hill, on Saturday to hike with my daughter. The price of admission is free and view is spectacular. Free entertainment exists, you just have to look for it.
  5. We had a little plumbing issue. My husband knows how to fix just about anything and was able to replace the leaking pipes himself. When you are able DIY, it’s the way to go in order to save money.