Monday, February 3, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

This post contains referral and affiliate links.

My utility bills came (gas, water, and electric) and I found that everything I had been doing to use even less than I normally do paid off in a huge way. Compared to what my bills usually are for January, and what I paid for December, the savings was huge. I saved $110!

What I changed in January:

I kept the heat at 65º. In past years I have gone up to 66º or 67º F. When it became warm in the middle of the month, I turned both heaters off completely. January is normally my highest usage month for natural gas, and I can expect a bill between $90 to $110. My bill was $51!

I have been making it a point to use less electricity in my bathroom and bedroom (I mentioned previously that I was using less light while showering), and I have been unplugging the laptop and using the battery instead of having it plugged in. I think it uses a lot less than the desktop computer I had previously. I've always been diligent about turning off lights, but making some changes paid off with a bill that was $35 less than December's bill.

I've been continuing to save water from the shower both while it heats up and while I'm in there (I keep a bucket in a place where I'm not standing) and I've been using that to water plants outdoors. I've also been making sure to have a child take shorter showers and I've been working on taking shorter showers myself. I also watched the needs in the garden very carefully, only watering when needful (we had no measurable precipitation for close to 50 days, but the cool weather would keep what I had watered wet for a few days). The water bill was $34 less than December's bill. I will be continuing to watch to see exactly what the garden needs as the weather warms.

I did not plan to shop last week, but I decided to do so to use some store coupons. I was able to use $45 in store coupons. I purchased most items on sale and combined trips to save on gasoline. Among the items I purchased were a 25 pound bag of oats for $14.75 (the store had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon, which made that price--which was not a sale price--even lower) and a new anti-siphon valve to replace ours that had broke from the freeze we had in December (the valve was on sale and the store had a $20 of $60 coupon--the valve was $60 on sale).

We enjoyed a trip to the top of the Stratosphere for free on Friday. They were offering free weekends in January to locals. The normal price would be $100 for us to go up! We could see the entire valley from there, and enjoyed pointing out different places to the children. It was really neat to see the airplanes take off so close to us (we could see the runway and then the airplanes as they turned, quite near us).

I used my referral credit from One Kings Lane to order a pedestal-style bowl that was exactly what I wanted. I have been searching for one for years at garage sales after seeing one in Victoria magazine years ago. They had a free shipping offer going as well, so it cost me nothing out of pocket! I have found some great deals in their kitchen items sales; right now they have some great prices in their Kitchenware for the Happy Couple sale.

Because I need a place to put this bowl, I went through a couple of cabinets and decided to remove a few things that I am not using and add them to the growing garage sale pile that I have been making.

I organized a drawer and pulled out several items from it to add to my garage sale pile.

I dug a sucker from an apple tree (it is semi-dwarf stock) and took a bud cutting from my Asian pear tree. If the union grafts, I will be able to grow another tree from it, which I will espalier. I am going to make a few more of these in case this one doesn't take, in the hopes to have 2 viable trees to espalier for the front yard, bringing my total to 10 fruit trees in the front yard.

We celebrated a son's birthday at home. I made him some chocolate frogs, chocolate Lego men
(he wanted to decorate his cake with the latter, so he did), and a pair of pajama shorts from an old sheet that had belonged to my mom (it was his new favorite color so I used it). His siblings made him some things and did some of his chores for him as well. I made him a cake according to his specifications and let him decorate it as he wished.

My husband was given some matches and some heavy duty shelves from someone who is moving. He is going to put the shelves up in the garage. We had a few shelves there before but these are deeper and taller and will give him more shelf space.

What did you do to save money last week?


  1. I washed and froze broccoli that I got 3 lbs for a dollar $1 last week.

    I stopped by the thrift store on 50% day and found some great gifts for the kids for later in the year. My husband also found a kitchen table for $10. Ours was literally on its last legs and the wood top was porous and hard to clean. The new table is much nicer! We feel so blessed to have found it!

    We canned applesauce with apples we got for $39/lb. We used 150 lbs and have about that much more (hopefully we'll do that this coming weekend). I wrote about it here:

    Since we have boxes of apples all over, my 2-year-old likes to help himself to them. After a couple bites, he sets them down and I find them in random places. I collect all his partially eaten apples and cut them up for snacks for the other kids. They would be grossed out by eating his partially eaten apples, but when I cut off the bites and slice the apple they don't know the difference.

    I made our sandwich bread and packed lunches as usual.

  2. Lots of good things! I should keep the lights turned off alot as well. Our house has devilish stairs and you can fall and break something if you don't have the lighting on in the basement. No electric lights in our stairs...go figure lol!

    Frugal stuff: I stuck to my grocery list which was good. I cooked ahead for the week so less chances of us eating take out. I thinned out BBQ that was low with some ketchup and it was really good.

    Hubs has cold sores so we're grinding up lysine tablets and mixing with zinc oxide and using far it has helped thank you Lord. The treatment tubes are almost 15 us dollars per one..terribly expensive.

    I ordered some supplements from iHerb. 4 dollars global shipping that seems to be pretty reliable.

  3. I've discovered that when the men are home, if I get up and make breakfast for everyone, then we go through a lot less food throughout the day. I did that several times. I'm finally using up all of those hungry jack pancake boxes I scored dirt cheap last year!! We had breakfast for dinner a few times and a few noodle or rice casseroles as well. I stopped buying k cups and bought a refillable k cup made by keurig using my amazon gift cards. I gave my ecofill one away a few months ago because it made weak coffee. This one makes better coffee. I followed a recipe for chocolate cobbler and, I've made it 3 times so far!! It is so easy and cheap to make. Its not too sweet either. I made chili last weekend and again this weekend. Last weekend I made cornbread and this weekend I made 2 dozen corn muffins. We've had a lot of bad we've been stuck inside. We're not spending any money that way!

    Brandy, I know you live in the desert and hardly get any rain......but I've been having a disagreement with my parents. I said it doesn't snow in Las Vegas and they insist it you ever get snow??

    1. It does snow in Vegas. I don't live there anymore, but we did until December 2012. It snowed at least once a year for the two years we were there. It melts when it hits the ground, except in the higher elevations around Mount Charleston.

    2. RSchmidt--did you live on the west side of town? They get more precipitation than we do.


      I have been here 13 years and I have seen it snow 3 times, each in different years. We took pictures :) It's a rare thing and there isn't much, nor does it last long.

      If you read the precipitation reports for our valley, you can see that it varies quite a bit depending on where you are in the valley and how close you are to the mountains. Some areas get 3 inches a year, some 4, and some 6. All "official" measurements for rain and tempertaature at taken at the airport. Where I live it is hotter and drier. The airport is south of us. When it does rain the rain is usually to the south part of town, and also near the mountains on the west part of town. The north part of the valley will see little if anything, and if you watch the weather report, it's hotter, sometimes by 5 degrees more.

      The new zoning maps put us in zones 8b to 10a throughout the valley. That is a HUGE variation. Some places on the west are colder, get more precipitation, and can grow better gardens. My sister-in-law and father-in-law live there.

      Because rain is so rare, if it rains, people call each other to see if it is raining in their part of town. I remember getting phone calls from people when it was snowing and we weren't seeing anything. Usually we can smell the rain when it passes south of us, or we get a literal 20 seconds of drops, and then it's done.

      The lat time I saw snow was several years ago. It snowed when my oldest turned 6 on her birthday (that was magical) and then once the year after. So 5 and 6 years ago since we've seen any snow at our house.

      We can see snow on the mountains, which I love. Friday we had rain for the first time in something close to 50 days (it was a new record for a number of days without precipitation; dh kept hearing updates on the radio about it). It came in as a cold storm and the mountains received snow, though most melted within a few hours.

      We can see Mt. Charleston if you stand in the street in front of my house, and that has snow on it several months of the year. I've had people from there attend my gardening classes and they have said they even had snow in June before! They are 20-30 degrees cooler up there and have a much different climate. But that is not down in the the valley.

    3. Kim M, buying the reusable K cup sounds like a great idea. I read that just last year 9 billion of the one use cups were used and thrown away.

  4. WOW - I am so impressed with what you were able to do on the utility bills. Congratulations!!!! :D

    I hope your tree union takes. That would be wonderful!

    Your son's birthday sounds awesome. I will have to look into doing chocolate Lego men for my guy's birthday this summer. He's a pretty big Lego fan too.

    Thanks for all the inspiration, as always. I blogged my doings here:

  5. Last week:
    I got the new power and light bill. It is .30 cents higher than last month! I am going to call the company this week and speak to them. I am going to see if they charge for someone to come out and do an energy audit. We lowered the heat, again, keep lights turned off, more things off and unplugged. I don't get it. This bill was over $300 again. Ridiculous.
    We were all sick at some point over the last week, thank goodness my company has sick time available to us to use. I missed 1 1/2 days of work but will still get paid for those hours.
    I mended some clothing that had holes or tears in them.
    I made yogurt, white bread, popsicles using left over peach puree from the last patch and some juice.
    I tried a homemade dish soap recipe, but didn't like it. The dishes were greasy feeling even after I scrubbed and rinsed them in hot water. I will use it to clean the sinks so it won't go to waste. I also made more laundry soap.
    I washed all ziploc bags, washed laundry on cold in large loads, hung them to dry.
    I have taken the tip of another reader and have been measuring everything to use less.
    I took advantage of sales at Family Dollar that matched some coupons I had and stocked up on toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, dog and cat food. We are stocked for the month and saved almost $15 between sale prices and coupons.I also got a free tube of carmex.
    We had our taxes done at a local office. We did them ourselves last year and had to have them fixed. The people were very nice, and as a promotion gave us $50 just for walking in. That was nice of them, even though I know it is built into their fees :)
    I continue to save the "warming up" water. I use it to wash my hands, rinse out my toddlers potty chair, water indoor plants.
    I found a couple of new homesteading blogs. One had some really good tips on saving water. This, and our outrageous power and light bills, have prompted me to do some research on solar powered items for the house, like lamps.
    The lubricant for my meat grinder that I ordered through Brandy's affiliate link came in the mail. I also ordered a role of candle wick string. I found an idea on a blog for "lard candles". I have a huge bucket of lard my mother in law gave me in our freezer, my husband does most of the cooking and won't use it. I also have beeswax on hand. I can't wait to make my own candles! Those and my hurricane lamp will be our lighting at night instead of our big overhead ceiling light.
    We organized our bedroom closets, have a bag of stuff to donate to Goodwill. Not really frugal, but it makes me calm when things are organized. I also organized my personal desk area and saved all the one side printed sheets of paper for my daughter to draw on.
    I printed some free Valentine's Day items for my husband. I told him I don't want to spend any money this year. We have Christmas in December, then his birthday in January. We don't need to spend money to show we love each other.
    I had saved all our grocery receipts for January. When I added them up we averaged $140 every two weeks. That is $70 per week. I want to get that down to $50 per week, but am happy. It used to be much more than that! I am continuing to save ALL receipts now to track spending.
    I was able to save a coffee stained work shirt. Washing it didn't get out the stains, so I soaked it in a bucket with water, peroxide, and borax for an hour then washed again, along with a pair of capri pants I wear to work in summer. I found brown stains all over the pants. They both came out brand new looking! YAY!
    My husband made chocolate cookies. They were delicious and used things we had on hand in the pantry.
    I also found christmas colored chocolate chips on clearance for $1.50 a pkg, I bought three pkgs, and 3 boxes of cheese crackers marked down to .99. I will make my own crackers eventually, but just have not had the time or energy.
    That is all I can think of at 6am :) Have a great week everybody!

    1. Hi Mandy,
      Can you share ratio of the borax, hydrogen, and water stain remover? Thanks

    2. I did not really measure but i would say about a cup of borax; a half a cup of peroxide to a gallon of water.

  6. I have been on a campaign at home to reduce waste in my refrigerator and have used/repurposed for lunches and other dinners pretty much everything that was in there as leftovers! It made my refrigerator look a bit emptier, but there was nothing that ended up being tossed! Good feeling!
    Finished 13 quilts this week that I made from fabric scraps that had been given to me over the years by friends (because they "knew" I would put them to use"!) and will donate them to our local Children's Hospit
    al! Cleared out a big base cabinet in my kitchen and gave a steamer and a waffle iron that were collecting dust to two friends who would use them (as I decluttered, I realized that I had other options that made them "duplicates"). They were pleased and I got more useable space in my cabinet!

    After a busy day away from home all day unexpectedly, I resisted the urge to call pizza delivery for dinner (even though I had coupon for free pizza if I bought one!) and made up ham alfredo in 20 minutes from scratch instead with enough leftovers to send home with our Elders!

    Good feeling!

  7. We very seldom use our desk top now. I am guessing that is one of the reasons our managed electric bill dropped by $34 dollars this year. Yipee

    Dried potatoes I bought for 10 pounds for 1.49. Also dried red and green peppers I bought @ 3 for A $1.

    Made lentil and rice tacos, baked potatoes with broccoli,cheese and a sprinkle of ham, minestrone soup,blueberry muffins, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, vege soup, curry soup.

    Made the invitations for my daughters bridal shower. Also started making pot holders to give as favors at it.

    I made a dog bed for our newly adopted dog. The bed was made with material I had on hand and the dog was free. Of course he'll cost me money along the way!

    My garden is growing well under the plastic milk jugs and glass jars! So funny looking but definitely gives me a leg up on the growing season. I have harvested carrots, parsley, oranges and Swiss chard.

    My friend continues to gift me grapefruit. Another friend gave me a bag of lemons. I am so lucky!

    I made an apron for my sister-in-law for her birthday. I also embroidered pillowcases for a friends birthday. I find pillow cases at Ross for about $4 a pair. I think it makes a unique inexpensive gift.

  8. I love the idea about collecting shower water. Probably won't do it but I love it :). Last week we saved money on our communications. My husband dropped his phone, we were able to replace it for free using my upgrade (he didn't have one) and our Belief points. Hello free iPhone!

    Your home and gardens look stunning.

  9. Thank you to everyone who offered tips for saving money on our electric bill last week. We have put as many of them as possible into practice and hoping to see results on our next bill. Brandy, what wonderful savings you had on your utility bills. It appears that being diligent pays off! I so wish that I could turn the heat off/down. This has been one of the coldest winters here I can remember and it seems that we have at least one or two snow events each week. Can’t wait for spring to arrive!

    Last week we combined as many errands as possible to save on gas. I was able to save 20 cents per gallon at our local grocery store so I made sure to fill the tank.

    I was given two very large bags of winter clothes for my boys, including two winter coats. They are all in the next size up from where they are now so we will be all set for next year.

    Made many of our usual things from scratch and tried a new recipe for no-bake granola bites. They were a big hit! They are made from oats and cereal (rice krispies) with honey and pb. Then you add raisins and chocolate chips. My husband and I agreed that they could easily be adapted to use any kind of cereal and mix-ins that we might have in the pantry. These will be a part of our weekly menu plan from here on out. In addition we ate all meals at home last week.

    We had been planning to purchase our son a Leapfrog Explorer for his birthday. I have been searching for the best price and had been putting it off since the prices were a bit high. I found one this past week at our warehouse club for 80% off retail price! It was a special set from the holidays that included a download card. Since my other son also has the same Leapfrog I will save the download card to purchase some new games as their Valentines treat. I will save half to download some games at Easter as well.

    I had some alone time last week so I spent a little of it working on my price comparison book for the two warehouse clubs where we have memberships (one was free.) On many items there was no price difference, but on the items where there was it averaged 75 cents or more. I do find that at both clubs the price on milk fluctuates quite a bit.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week. Melissa

  10. We have a well so most of the time I'm not very conscious of how much water we use. I need to pay more attention.

  11. I bought a ham that was 1/2 off for less than $5 .. cooked some for dinner one night, made breakfast sandwiches for the freezer and chopped up the rest- another 5 cups! ...this will go far for us!

    saved my yogurt containers to use for soups to put in the freezer later this month.. ((I don't know why but yogurt seems to scare me to cook ;)

    In December, I found my freezer dial had been turned off by one of the kids and all of my food went bad :( ,..luckly most of it was frozen veggies and fruit and only a handful of meat items-- but it was still at least $100 of food .... and now I am restocking it and freezing in preparation for our #3 baby coming-- so I froze bean burritos, the breakfast sandwiches I mentioned, some fruit that was on sale last week, and baked oatmeal.

    My mother gave me a package of tortillas and some zucchini bread that my grandmother made.

    I filled up on gas and am hoping to stretch it 3 weeks.

    I packaged all lunches to send with C for work.

    I am finishing potty training my 3 y.o. and started with my 2 y.o. ... and am currently researching cloth diapering for #3 which will save us lots of money !

    I did purchase a new blender- I researched online for a sale and went to the store, they were out of the one I wanted and so I purchased it from the kiosk and ended up saving even more! and free shipping since I made the purchase within the store- added up $30 savings!

    I remembered that I have some canning jars in storage instead of purchasing another case.

    I started making ice tea at home (pregnancy craving) and putting it in a travel mug instead of getting one while I am out and about with errands- saving at least $3 a week.

    I switched our electric bill to online payments- saving me from an extra $2.50 charge paying over the phone - because I didn't realize it was so close to the due date.. which has happened more than I care to admit.

    I received a gift card for my birthday and was going to spend it right away ;) but decided to wait a bit longer so I can stretch it into the end of the pregnancy/post partum outfits! **my proudest moment of the week- because I rarely spend $$ on myself, so this will be a treat!**

    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss of food :(. I know sometimes with renters/homeowners insurance they will cover the loss of groceries (without paying a deductible) if you lose food. I would at least call and ask!

    2. I found that cloth diapers didnt save money when I included the cost of water, electricity, propane to heat the hot water and detergent in the calculations.It is cheaper for me to buy diapers (taking advantage of sales and coupons) than to wash them.

    3. When our first child was born, we calculated out the cost, too. Using cloth diapers, even with cost of water, electricity & detergent, plus the cost of new cloth diapers, was sufficient to pay for the washing machine & dryer, just the first year, & those diapers went thru 4 kids. Definitely run the numbers, because it depends a lot on your energy & water costs, but for us it saved money.

    4. Andrea, you've come to the same conclusion as I have! (I thought you were a die-hard cloth diaper user, too). I've seen the "average" out there on what people are supposed to be saving on diapers per year, and I added up what I have spent on diapers (I just ran last year's numbers again recently) and it wasn't even a little bit close to that amount! If that was clear as mud--the supposed savings are over $1800 a year by using cloth. However, I don't spend $1800 a year on disposables! Not even close. I found that I spend around $240 a year on diapers on wipes for one child. That amount is often lower because of coupons and sales on top of the price of store-brand Target diapers. (I use Costco wipes; a box will last me around 9 months and can be bought on sale on occasion. That is the only thing I buy there so I have my mom, who has a membership, pick one up for me when I need it, or two if I have two in diapers, and I try to always get it when there is a sale.

      With our high water and electricity rates, I am grateful for disposable diapers. I already do a very large number of loads per week and I found that I really didn't like cloth diapers. I tried hard to, but I didn't. I am grateful to live in a day of disposable diapers and menstrual pads!

  12. Good job on the power/water bills! I'm waiting to see if my power bill is lower this time. We got it down a little bit from December to January, but I'm hoping for more.

    I worked on using up some of the carrots that are still left from my garden. They have been keeping nicely in the garage fridge, but are nearing the time where they aren't so nice, so time to finish them off. The huge crop yielded 40+ lbs that were stored in that fridge all this time.

    We keep eating broccoli, corn, green beans, and other veggies and fruit that I canned or froze last summer.

    We had a pig strain a back muscle. We were very worried because it wouldn't walk. After several phone calls to my husband's friend who knows a great deal about pigs, he was told to take it warm water mixed with food, water, etc.--generally baby it morning and night. It was healthy other than that. So, my husband did this, and kept calling the mobile slaughter man, since the pig was ready to butcher. If it had gone down, we would have lost all the profit from his pig-raising venture. Finally, the man made time to come take care of this pig. He is overly busy and will have to do the rest another day. The most important part is that he saved the bacon.

    The big girls went to a formal dinner. One dress we got for $12.50 on clearance before Thanksgiving, and the other dress was loaned to us by a friend. I just had to alter it a bit. I put youngest daughter's hair up with baby's breath and lace.

    We had company for dinner. Although my friend is the most allergic person I know, I was able to feed her well from my freezer and pantry, with just the addition of some tomatoes and corn tortillas from the store. We put out taco bar, so everyone could get the part they could have. I also made corn from the freezer and fruit salad from home canned fruit cocktail, and frozen berries.

    We went to watch the Super Bowl with my oldest daughter's family. We have not paid for any kind of t.v. service for over 7 years and you get 0 reception at our house. It was a nice treat to watch the game.

    My seed orders came. I planted peppers (several kinds) in the greenhouse. I also planted a few tomato seeds and a little lettuce in a pot. I have a lot more to do. We are expecting a cold snap, so put a little heater in there.

    We hauled a lot of wood into the garage so that hopefully we won't have to turn on the furnace. We are still reeling from the bills that caused when we used it a lot during the cold snap we had in December. My husband gets up and loads the stove during the night when it's so cold. I will probably be able to be home enough during the week to keep it going during the days, since Monday is the only day that I work all day away from home.

    I pulled out some cotton yarn I had and am crocheting a dish cloth. I knitted one last week. I have many appointments for the children right now, so am trying to use the time wisely while I wait. I will probably use these as gifts. I have quite a few skeins of the yarn I got on a good sale a couple of years ago, so it also feels good to use some of that up.

    We are also getting quite a large garage sale pile built up. Hopefully, we will find a nice weekend in late spring to have a sale.

    I was able to put some money into savings during January. I like to set aside some during the school year when I work more, for summer when I don't work much at all. I did this by buying fewer groceries. We grow a huge garden and that helps out the situation during the summer as well as providing us with large quantities to preserve and it keeps the grocery budget lower during the winter.

  13. Congratulations on the lower utility bill. I am expecting my electric bill to be higher due to using the heater in the greenhouse so much last month. This was my first winter using it so I have no idea what to expect.

    Here is what I have done to save money this past week:

  14. Your water savings are amazing! I need to start doing better. From every report our area will be experiencing a major drought this year. Might as well start conserving now.

    Our Accomplishments this week:

    My oldest daughter had a school overnight trip up in the mountains. We knew there were several feet of snow and a storm moving through the area on the day she'd be there, so it was definitely going to be COLD. She didn't have snow pants or boots in her size. She's almost 12 and nothing fits for more than a week or two. I found a pair of almost new snow pants, in the next size up, at DI for $5. Even though she complained a little about the size, I thought they worked perfectly. The boots were another story. We looked EVERYWHERE! New or used we just couldn't find anything in her size. I was about to start calling friends and neighbors to borrow a pair when she walked in my closet, pulled out my snow boots and said "how about these?" She tried them on and I about cried when they fit well enough for her to use. My baby is almost big enough to wear my shoes! I am happy we found everything she needed for very little out of pocket.

    Patched an old sleeping bag for said trip. There was a large tear inside the lining. I used some flannel and fabric bond I had from other projects, then stitched it up by hand while watching a movie.

    Made more bread. I decided it is much easier to weigh the flour than to measure it out. My six loaf recipe calls for 22.5 cups. Measuring that much takes forever and a day. Plus, as a momma I typically get interrupted at least 5 times while measuring so I'm never sure if I've gotten the right number. I received a nice digital scale for Christmas and it made the process much quicker. I used the conversion 1cup = 5oz.

    Cooked a pound of black beans in the crock pot. Once done, I measured 1 2/3 cups into zip bags and stashed in the freezer. The bags are approximately 1 cans worth of beans. I got 4 bags from the pound of dried.

    Tried a new chocolate chip recipe. This one may be good enough to quadruple in the Bosch and stash, unbaked, in the freezer. I have to try the small batch one more time to be sure. I'm positive the husband and the kids won't mind trying one more batch.

    I placed the new plastic on the garden box. Hopefully the soil will be warm enough in a few weeks to plant some "cold crops" out there. While I was out there I cleaned things up a bit and found nearly 1 pound of beautiful carrots! They were protected enough up next to the house that the ground wasn't frozen. My kids will think these are an awesome treat.

    Planned the garden for next year, and ordered my rhubarb and blackberry bushes. I used a $10/$40 coupon code and went through Swag bucks (9 bucks to every dollar spent).

    Pictures and links on my blog:

  15. What a great idea to use a sucker to make your own grafts!

    Our frugal accomplishments:

    I had several birthday presents, & other items for our oldest daughter. Normally, I would drive over for a visit, but it is 2¾ hours one way. She was in Salt Lake for a medical appointment, so I met her in Heber in the parking lot of the Walmart instead. No extra gas for her, since she goes thru Heber to get home, & I saved 3¾ hours of driving. On my way home, I drove by Starbucks & picked up free coffee grounds for the garden.

    Cut the branches from Christmas tree #6 salvaged from the curb & laid them over the north side beds.

    Watched “Lark Rise to Candleford” & “Downton Abbey” on PBS, and “Cheese Slices” & “Courage, New Hampshire” on UEN.

    Our youngest daughter came home sick with a virus. She had a flu shot, & it is not “flu”, but many of her coworkers are sick with this upper respiratory virus. I sent home a small bottle of our elderberry syrup with her.

    Mended 3 holes in a pair of my husband’s jeans. Took a survey for pinecone research.

    Woke up Thursday morning feeling nauseated & a little lightheaded. Thinking I just had a low blood sugar & was a little dehydrated, I ate a banana with a glass of water. A few minutes later, both came back up – several times, so I spent the day on clear liquids with a few crackers here & there. Washed colors & hung them to dry, but that was all I accomplished. Won’t want any more bananas for a while. I was sick thru Saturday, so no trips & no money out, as I was home in bed most of the time. I did keep up with the wash, tho.

    Ordered four tops that were on sale at Woman Within, & used a 40% off coupon. Two were for me, & two were for my daughter, who has trouble finding things that fit. When they arrived, one was damaged, so I returned that one, which was intended for me. Meanwhile I tried on the other one; it fits, but it was a little large, so I re-ordered the top I returned in the next smaller size, with another 40% coupon. Many of my tops are wearing out after being mended multiple times. I have been looking for several months, & found a top on clearance at Kmart in November. I asked for a shirt for Christmas (which came late due to shipping issues), & for my birthday (also late, due to shipping issues).

    1. I actually learned it from the man who makes and sells apple grafts in California. He sells an e-book on apples (link is on my garden pages) and there is a lot of useful information there. These are suckers from one I got from him, actually. I know they are grafted onto semi-dwarf rootstock, so that is what the suckers are. Not sure if the pears will like the apple rootstock as pears are usually grafted onto quince rootstock, but I figured it was worth trying.

  16. Great savings! My list this week is not that long, but it's posted here;

  17. Wow! I am always impressed by what you do!

    My frugal accomplishments are here:


  18. Great job on the utility bills. We turned our thermostat down to 65, but it will probably only be about $30 lower since our average temps have been in the 20's :).

    The most exciting frugal thing I am doing this week is continuing my wintersowing efforts. I am planting cold-tolerant perennials in milk jugs outside - the cold is supposed to wake them up and the jugs provide a mini-greenhouse for when they are ready to sprout. Might as well make something of this cold weather! I also sowed some peony poppy seeds in the snow in my cutting garden - I have heard that they grow very easily from this method.

    I received 9 different seeds for perennials and vegetables suitable to my zone from this week. If you send in a self-addressed, stamped envelope they will send you seeds of their choice, but you can also do a tomato order form in which you can select six different varieties of tomatoes. I'm still waiting on the tomato seeds to arrive, but I was so excited to find that they sent an ample number of seeds in the perennial/vegetable envelope.

    I found even more seeds at Walmart in the gardening section for 20 cents a pack - they look similar to the ones at the Dollar Tree, but cheaper - 5 packs/$1. They had much more variety than the Dollar Tree, and I found some heirloom carrots and flowers that I had been wanting.

    I continued to work on my first quilt from fabric that my mom sent me - I was able to purchase batting for it with a thank-you gift card from a friend at Hobby Lobby.

    Have a great week! Love your posts, as always.

  19. These post are always great Brandi, but I think your children doing chores for the birthday boy was very sweet. Now why didn't my brothers and sisters think of that. LOL. I hope he had a wonderful day.
    blessings, jill

  20. Dear Miss Brandy and readers,

    The weather is here is very cold and snowy. Kids have been out of school a couple days. My oldest has been able to watch the family so I can go to work thus saving me child care costs. I live close enough to my job I can go home at lunch and check on them. I did not have to make very many MD visits with my child who is seriously ill this month. I was able to pay cash for all medical costs in January. My biggest goal is to keep my utility bills down during this cold weather and so far I have made a dent. I also am in the process of decorating my room and am crocheting a new bedspread out of yarn I have on hand. I also am making 21 blue and gold scarves for Christmas next year (3/month) and I have completed 3 and on my fourth

    My frugal accomplishments include:
    Keeping the thermostat at 63 F both day and night-kept bill under $100 for 2 months, normally close to $200
    Kept rolls around windows and doors
    Made weekly menu plan
    Used food items and pantry items available
    Cooked meals from scratch each night
    Made lunch preparations and took lunches each day
    Entertained ourselves at home
    Used 1 tank of gas despite driving all over the city (job related)
    Went to the MD and saved $10
    Added $100 to savings
    Paid off another small debt saving me $25/month now to go towards other bills
    MD visits at the clinic for "free"
    Able to cash pay for 3 MD visits for my daughter and prescriptions for my daughter
    Crocheting a blanket for bed-made 15 squares
    Working on getting financial aid packet in by 2/9
    Bought 48 rolls of TP at CVS for $15 and got back $10 in ECBs-this should last for a couple months or more

    I do not shop at drug stores very much but there were a couple of good deals this week.

    Best wishes to everyone and stay warm.


  21. Brr...65! Okay, I'm spoiled. I have a pellet stove and one one of the lowest settings the house is 72. :) I probably save $8-900 a year burning pellets versus propane BUT its much warmer as the pellet stove runs 24/7. It just uses a couple little fans and I did not see any significant raise in the electric bill.

    I've shaved my electric bill as much as I can. One this that I found sucked a lot of power was the big yard light in the back yard. I personally prefer to have it on, but it does come on fairly quickly when I have to let the dog out.

    My biggest issue probably with power is the computer....okay I leave it on because its terribly old and I'm honestly afraid that it won't start up When money gets thicker, I plan on replacing it with a laptop.

    I wonder....would it be too cheap to recharge cell phones, kindles and laptops in the car? My mother would have a FIT if she heard me say that. I'm the kind that shakes the water off the broccoli in the display so I don't get charged for water.

    I just was given a Victorio-type strainer/juicer thing. Good old dad bought mom an electric one and I was gifted the fairly new one. They probably run $50-60 bucks. Not something I would buy for myself. I still use the old cone shaped sieve/strainer with the wood pestle. If I recall correctly, I got their last old Victorio and I've never used it.

    Got 20% off a set of on-sale sheets at Bed Bath and beyond. Fairly nice sheets for a good price. My heavens though, did you know you can get sets of sheets for $175???!!!??? Not here, not in my lifetime. Unfortunately I don't have little girl projects here, so the old pink and white polka dot sheets are off to the thrift store.

    I spent a bit of time adding up pet food use per month. We have a house cat who is fussy, a stray cat who eats anything and a dog who is nearly 17 that is on a cat food kick. Sometimes you can actually get stuff like this delivered from Amazon or Walmart cheaper than you can buy it at the store. I've gotten large bags of cat food for as much as $8 less a bay delivered than I can purchase it at the store.

    1. We got a great deal on the laptop plus cash back from Ebates. I think it will pay for itself in the electricity savings. I found before that shutting off my desktop at night saved me $50 a month in electricity costs. Still, I had it on during the day and in the evenings. I can shut the laptop off and it starts up so much quicker.

      A Victorio strainer is a wonderful gift. If you don't use it I am sure one of my readers near you would love to take it off your hands!

    2. I also meant to say that it has been in the low 60's outside and in January it was even warmer in the high 60's. We actually opened the windows several days in January.

    3. This will sound super silly, but it never occured to me to shake water off produce to not get charged for water weight- I always shake my vegetables off, but Grandma taught me to do that and I always thought it was because they would get moldy faster or something. I guess you don't really question why Grandmas teach you things, you just accept them! I wonder what else I'm paying for in the produce section that I shouldn't be?

    4. When a fruit or vegetable is sold by the item versus by the pound, I try to get the largest produce item that I can weight wise. I weigh each item and usually do get bigger produce for my money. I did this with pumpkins last fall. The difference in weight can be significant.

    5. Love the line about your dog being on a cat food kick. Too funny!

    6. mdoe, cat food is higher in fat and protein than a dog needs, so an old dog with old kidneys probably does not handle that excess the best. My son in law is a large animal vet so I asked him. He said try and keep the dog from snitching the cat food on a regular basis.

  22. We continued to cloth diaper, as always, and washed them in Tide scored from Target. It was on clearance, and I stacked a Target coupon, a manufacturer's coupon, and Cartwheel. That saved me almost $5 per bottle!
    I mailed in a rebate form for dog food. We'll get a check back for $21, and our pup will feast on free dog food!
    I opened up all the window shades in our house to let light in, and haven't turned on the lights as much. Our electric company sends us a rebate if we keep our usage below their lower buffer, and so far we've gotten $25 or more back each month.
    We ate all our meals at home, although this was more of a necessity than a frugal endeavor. We just bought my husband a truck to reduce the wear and tear on my car and my sanity, and money is a little tight as we adjust to the new budget.
    We got four giant bags of hand me down clothes for our baby on the way, and a few things for our son. We should be able to clothe our baby until they're in college with my friend's hand me downs!
    I sold a jogging stroller I picked up from the curb on trash day, cleaned, and tightened one bolt on. It gave us an extra $20 of income this month!
    I clipped coupons, but haven't used any yet.
    We used our reusable snack baggies instead of plastic bags

  23. I used a 3lb bag of potatoes that cost me $0.29 total (for the whole bag- not per lb), turkey bacon that I got for nearly free this past summer that's been in the freezer and other ingredients I already had to make the BEST (huge) pot of baked potato soup. was sooo good!

    I made and served dinner with a volunteer group at the Ronald McDonald house. For my dish, I made a big pot of black bean and ham soup. I had everything I needed already in the freezer and pantry.

    I drank more water.

    It's been so cold again though and I've used a lot of heat. Which is far from frugal here in NY.

    But I used my heated blanket at night. I put it under the fitted sheet actually so that the heat rises and gets trapped by my duvet cover. For folks in cold climates, if you don't have a heated blanket, they are totally worth the investment. You can have the house much cooler at night but still stay so cozy warm. Plus you can turn it on before you crawl in bed- so cozy!

    If it's really cold, sometimes I when sitting at my desk I will sit on a heating pad turned on low so I can keep the heat lower. I really helps!

    I meal planned. I shopped some with coupons but only bought the best deals that were going on due to the Super Bowl. I now have a nice stock of my favorite gluten free crackers in the pantry!

    I used up eggs to make a dip for a party. I basically make deviled eggs but in the food processor and call it deviled egg dip. Life changing- so yummy!

    I received a few free samples in the mail. Hair products- fancy conditioners, hairspray, etc- which are awesome for travel (or if I run low). Plus coffee, dishwasher tabs and baby formula (which I always donate). And several magazines that I receive weekly/monthly. I don't request samples that often these days because I don't want stuff junking up my life. So it was extra fun to get all of my recent and wanted samples come on the same two days.

    KK @


  24. I was doing pretty good this week until 3 separate household items broke and all will need to be replaced or repaired. I also made my lunch for work one day and forgot it in the fridge. Hate when I do that! My frugal accomplishments for this week include:

    Made menu plan mostly from items in pantry and freezer
    Made homemade chili, chicken and gnocchi soup(Olive Garden knock-off recipe), split pea soup in the crockpot(excellent and easy recipe from, granola, trail mix, chocolate syrup for my daughter's chocolate milk, ham and egg muffins using homemade bisquick mix
    Ate leftovers and didn't have much food waste
    Ate free breakfast at work 2 days
    Brought lunch to work
    Was invited out to a work recruiting/interview dinner at a very nice restaurant and received free dinner and drinks. And a very delicious piece of chocolate cake for dessert
    Had a snow day at home with my little girl. She had a blast playing in the snow and we had hot cocoa we already had on hand to warm up after. Free fun! And thankfully this year she still fits in her snow suit we bought last year. We purposely bought it a little big last year and the straps on the overalls are adjustable so it still fits great!
    Spent Super Bowl Sunday with friends. They provided hamburgers and fries for dinner and we brought 7 layer Mexican dip and chips. My husband is an avid Seahawks fan so he was very happy with the result!
    I have been continuing to use up shampoo and conditioner that was gifted to me. Also continue to use homemade laundry detergent and will need to make another large batch soon.
    Also made homemade deodorant out of items I already had on hand. I had been buying an all natural kind which I actually found worked better than any store bought kind I've ever tried. And I tend to sweat a lot, but I haven't really had much problem since switching away from store bought deodorant. I haven't tried my version yet, but hopefully it works. The kind I've been buying online is rather pricey.
    Mended and fixed buttons on 4 separate items of clothing.
    Fixed part of my daughter's dresser with wood glue.
    That's all I can think of right now! Hope everyone has a great week!

  25. We also turned our furnace down to 66 during the day and 64 at night. Hopefully, we will see those savings on our next bill.

    I made a dress and two blouses to wear to work. I also need to sew up the baby gown that I am making for a friend. Speaking of sewing, one of my good friends just started sewing, and I showed her how to make pocket diapers. When we went over for a playdate last week, she mentioned that she had two sewing machines and asked if I needed a spare one. I said that I'd look at it...and it's a Bernina!! It's a late 60's model and has all of the feet and eveything. She gave it to me for helping with the diapers!

    Made French bread using Brandy's recipe. We are going to be making potato soup in bread bowls for dinner tonight. We also made banana bread, beans and rice, and bean tacos.

    My son and I are going to make origami heart lollipop valentines for his preschool class this year using Kraft paper that I have on hand and lollipops that we got on sale at the grocery store.

  26. Oh I also cooked a whole, small chicken (cost:$3.10) in the crockpot (not my favorite way to cook chicken but I had zero time that day). Then I pulled it out, picked off all the meat, added BBQ sauce and added it back in the crockpot. I served it over rice that I bought for $0.04/bag. That was several days of meals for two people and I had everything on hand already. But more importantly, because I threw that chicken in the crockpot, it meant I didn't have to take time to fuss over dinner at night and didn't have an excuse to go out to eat. Oh and that BBQ chicken was soooo tasty! I think in great part because the meat cooked on the bones- that always makes such a big flavor and moisture difference.

    KK @

  27. We had some bad weather last week, so we were home a lot and saved gas. While stuck at home I made both chili and black bean soup using dried beans. (The cooked beans that were not used for the soup or chili were frozen in 2 cup portions to be used later)

    Instead of saving my "warming up" water for plants I am using it to refill the tank on the toilet. I just catch it in a bucket in the shower and bathroom sinks. When needed I remove the tank top prior to flushing the toilet. As the flush is completed and the flapper is secure, I slowly pour the water until the float is close to the proper level. ( I under fill it slightly). I am surprised how many times I can refill this using just the rescued water while I am waiting for it to get warm. Another water saver is to shower immediately after my husband so there is no additional warm up time. During the summer I save the final rinse water from the washer to water my plants on the laundry room side of the house. It is kind of a pain cause you have to be right there to transfer the hose to a bucket but during drought summers I have been able to grow plants and also keep my grass alive (barely) just using my wash rinse water.
    I catch it in a large food storage bucket and transfer it to a watering can.

    I am also participating 365 day plan. The idea is to get rid of 365 things in your home this year. I am waiting for the various charitable organizations that send trucks for collections. There is at least one a month coming to my street. I keep a box in the laundry room and as I deep clean each room I put at least one item we no longer use in the box. I include clothes in this count, and because I weed out our clothes seasonally I am finding this is not a difficult challenge. In fact, when I clean the basement I may go well over the yearly total,

  28. I'm still making our bread, 2x a week for sourdough seems to be what we eat. I am also making some beer bread, we have some old beer, as I don't drink it, and dh doesn't drink it at home very often, but sometimes comes home with some his friends shared thinking he would enjoy it. I got the self rising flour for free.
    We got a soda stream for Christmas and I have been making most of our syrups, not as cheap as water, but cheaper than buying soda's all the time for hubby. I don't like to drink my calories or money:D

  29. I got a free sandwich for lunch at a local health food store, they sent out coupons via email and luckily I checked it because it came on the day that you had to use it
    A friend who got married in India brought me a gift, a lace top, I asked her to bring me fabric , and I would pay for those, but she also brought me the top as a gift. It was so sweet, now I have to think of something just as special to give her
    Now that I am more familiar with swag bucks, I have been diligently using it to search and watching the videos. It has really been paying off; on Thursday I got 47 swag bucks just from searching! I was so shocked, the highest I had gotten before that was ten. I really don’t understand how the point system works for the searching but I am glad I am doing it.
    We helped a friend move and she gave me a top that did not fit her
    We were mindful of our driving and only used half a tank of gas during the week, but we did do a lot of driving during the weekend
    We ran out of wax that came in our mushroom inoculation kit; DH priced the wax at Michael’s but they were too expensive. He came up with the idea to buy seven day candles and use the wax from those; it worked perfectly
    I finally put away the paperwork and mail that has been piling up on my desk; I read my chase statement and realized I have $5.60 in cash back from purchases on Amazon
    I also learned that the university that I am a teaching assistant at had automatically enrolled me in a retirement plan. There is only $20 in it, lol, so I ain’t working with much, but it was cool because it was unexpected
    The graduate office made an error; they cancelled my stipend check, and I got charged a fee. I told them they needed to take care of it, and they are working on it. It is only $12.50 but the way we have been going, $12.50 is at least two meals around here. I am glad I pressed them.
    Packed a lunch everyday (except for the day I got a free lunch)
    I stayed home on Sunday which allowed me to get a lot done
    I listened to Suze Orman for free on iTunes
    We were under budget this month by $56! I am very proud of us. It took a lot to get here. I even had to have another serious financial conversation with DH on Sunday because I was getting so frustrated, and I realized I was holding too much in and had to let him know how I felt. It was a production conversation, so I am happy about that. I just have to continue to be patient.
    I fasted on Sunday
    Used baking soda as deodorant
    Used baking soda for toothpaste
    Remembered to use the printer at school to print
    Got free magazines in the mail
    We have not turned on the heat; we are still using the fireplace

    1. KK, I don't understand swagbucks either. They sent me an email last week congratulating me on enough points for a $1 gift card. ???

  30. Congrats on the lower utility bills! Our last week wasn't terribly frugal - our old computer finally died and we had to replace it. (When your hubby, who is an electrical engineer, can't fix it? It's dead.)

    But to make up for that, we did have some inexpensive family fun. We went swimming at the local YMCA (we are members). We had a friend over for a play date.

    When I did my grocery shopping this week, I went back to the local produce store. It really does have better overall prices than anywhere else, but when I get busy, I don't tend to shop there (and when my CSA is in swing, I don't go there either). I am always pleasantly surprised by the amount of produce I get for such a small amount of money.

    We have been working on decreasing our water bill. We have cut our water usage by 20% compared to last January.

  31. Ms. Brandy- I'm so glad that y'all made a trip to the Stratosphere. The hubs and I were married there, at the very top. It was wonderful!

    Unfortunately, I found out there is no way for me to lower my water bill. We live in an apartment and I have pulled out all the stops trying to get it lower. I finally called the front office and I was told that it is an average of overall water consumption for that month billed by square feet. So they take the overall amount of water used divided it by total square feet of space people are living in then multiply it by the size of your apartment. I'm sad that I cant change this bill.

    My accomplishments for the week:
    -We ate out once. We ate Pho this week which is one of my favorite things to eat out. It is extraordinarily expensive to make at home and very cheap to eat out. I think our total bill was right at $20
    -We were treated to dinner at a Mexican restaurant (my least favorite) for the hub's work. We didn't pay so I was ok with that
    -In the spirit of less-stuff-ism I cleaned out my closet. I donated about 30 items to the Salvation Army. I would love to get down to 40 hangers, but between work clothes, dress clothes, every day clothes, and sports jerseys I'm hovering around 60.
    -We filled our taxes on Turbo Tax. We were able to use the 19.99 edition this year. I fell like we got our maximum refund. We will use most of it towards student loans. The rest will go into an account for an upcoming Vet visit.
    -Sold two books on Received my first check for selling books. It was $48!!
    -A girl I work with was going to a restaurant to buy a large amount of food for several people. I asked her to get them to swipe my rewards card for the purchase. She spent so much that I earned a free meal!
    -Stuck through my Pantry Challenge and only spent $50 in January on food. Most of which was milk that only the husband drinks. We had a talk about his milk consumption. Pretty much it ended with him drinking milk as he pleases. You cant win them all ;)
    -We stayed home for the Super Bowl because I wasn't feeling 100% then on Monday morning. I woke up with a terrible stomach virus. I was awfully sick. I am eating my first bit of real food in 36 hours as I type this
    -We watched several shows for free on Amazon Prime, Went to the Gym 5 times, and went to the Dog Park

    Goals for the week: Do the sewing I had planned on doing last weekend before the yucky feeling set in (mend towels, move buttons on pants, mend pants,), Make large payment on Student Loans, Work a shift to make up for the ones I lost while sick, go to dog park, go to gym minimum 4 times.

    1. Cecile, why do you find pho expensive to make at home? I have a Hmong coworker and she did a series of classes for the Home Ec students. They did pho, fresh rolls, spring rolls, Pad Thai, sticky rice with coconut milk. Pho uses a pretty cheap cut of meat and you can buy the spices in bulk. Plus it makes a lot!

  32. -Stayed home all weekend and did not go out to eat, which is something we usually do.
    -hosted a House Party Soda Stream Football event and was given a free SodaStream machine and all the accessories free-we do drink soda in our house and this machine is more environmentally friendly because soda bottles and cans aren't ending up in landfills. I get to keep the machine for hosting the party. My only commitment was to post pictures online.

    -downloaded 4 free books to my Kindle app on my iPad

    -worked an hour of Overtime
    -filled out two online job applications as I'm actively seeking new employment
    --made cookies from scratch rather than buying at the store
    --made homemade chicken fajitas instead of takeout
    --ate leftovers on Saturday afternoon
    --got my hair cut and highlighted for free by my Mom as she's a licensed beautician and I traded her my leftover medication(we are prescribed the exact same dose of the exact same medication and see the same doctor otherwise I wouldn't do this or recommend it) I had to go to a higher dose of the medication so rather than throw my leftover med out, I gave it to her to use.

    --making more food from scratch

  33. Just made a batch of Mexican wedding cookies, my absolute favorite cookie. So probably UN-frugal, as I will eat most of them. But they're $5 for the same amount of cookies at the store, and I made mine even cheaper with the pecans that came from my father-in-law's trees last year. My kids harvested them, and we took them to a local cracking place that does it for about 10 cents a pound. Husband picked them all out, and got mostly pecan halves. I figure we had about 8 pounds of pecans at the beginning of 2013. I've still got about 3 pounds to use. And because of the drought, nut trees didn't produce this year, so there will be price hikes on most tree nuts.

  34. If anyone lives or visits Florida please contact me! I have to downsize our items and I would love to share with someone in great need!

  35. I am so ready to start gardening again, our last frost will be at the end of March so I have started my seeds indoors. I bought the seeds at The Dollar Tree for .25 each. So not a total loss if they don’t germinate but I think they will. Here’s what else I’ve been doing to be frugal.
    --Wrote out a menu plan
    --Used $5.25 in coupons at the grocery store
    --Started freezer cooking, made pancakes, chicken corn soup and chili.
    --Found a great deal on small plastic containers so bought several packages
    --Cleaned out medicine cabinet and will continue to declutter this week

  36. Sorry you lost your first blog post and had to redo it! I hate when things like that happen.

    I had instant potato flakes to use up, so I made a lentil shepard’s pie. Then bonus dessert that night – when I was putting away the extra veggie stock I made for the shepard’s pie - I found some frozen creme puffs. My son had taken them to a party over the holidays and put the extras in the freezer and I had forgotten about them until now!

    I got a sample of Finish dish detergent in the mail.

    I’m keeping close track of my paychecks post pay cut and my weekly budget. I’m also trying to put everything I can on the Discover Card and then paying it off in full and saving up the cash back points to use for gifts and holidays.

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier, but sticks of butter at Sams Club are $2.12 a pound and whipped butter is $2.39 for 8 ounces…. No more whipped butter for us! There are some recipes online for making whipped/softened butter at home by whipping butter, oil and some recipes also add water which I will try when I get time.

    The grape vines I ordered were delivered and we planted those. I had to scrub the arbor first so it turned out to be a major chore but at least the ground around the arbor was ready.

    I made a pear crisp from an over ripe pear and banana muffins to start using up a surplus of frozen bananas.

    I made minestrone soup again from produce in the fridge that needed to be used up and bits from the freezer. I put the rest of the cherry tomatoes in the freezer. They were getting wrinkly. I can use them from the freezer to sauté with some olive oil, garlic and basil to have with pasta.

    My food waste has been zero last week and the week before.

    I watched Craigslist Joe on Amazon Prime for free.

    I marked a line on the cap of the laundry detergent with how much we should use – which was way less than what they recommended on the bottle. Still gets the clothes just as clean.

    I made sure I ate an orange every morning at breakfast. I don’t eat as much fruit with the cold weather as I do in the summer but I have a drawer full of oranges that I did not want to go to waste.

    I worked just short of 10 hours of overtime.

    1. I whip 2 sticks of butter with one cup of water. It definitely saves me money and calories.

    2. I love that someone else marks the laundry cap. I put marks where I want my husband to pour to (he likes to do laundry) and it saves a LOT of detergent, compared to the full cup he'd been using. I also used red nail polish to mark my tube of moisturizer in the bath. I seldom have on my glasses in there and can't tell the cleanser from the moisturizer which meant I wasted product. That dot of red polish is very visible even without my glasses! No more waste. Recently I put my shampoo in an old pump bottle which cut down on the 'extra' that would come out when I poured shampoo. One pump, shampoo hair, done.

  37. Hello all! I have enjoyed reading everyone's frugal accomplishments and now will add mine to the list!

    1. Bought only meat this week as I am well stocked on everything else. I am trying to use up all of my canned vegetables as my doctor told me that my blood pressure is too high and I have to stop eating canned vegetables because of the sodium. I have been rinsing them before I use them to try to get rid of some of the salt, so hopefully it will bring my blood pressure down when I go back the end of the month.
    2. Took advantage of my insurance's preventive benefits for my yearly well being check up. They pay up to a thousand dollars per year for wellness visits.
    3. We had an ice/snow storm here in the Deep South last week so I was out of school for three days. That saved on gas in my car as it was too dangerous to go anywhere, so we stayed home and cleaned the house, moved some rooms around, and went through stuff for a garage sale we are having in March.
    4. Made a huge pot of venison vegetable stew on Tuesday, when the storm blew through and invited friends over for "sledding" and food. We don't get much snow here so even a little is considered enough to go "sledding" and we own an actual antique sled so we had a lot of fun! We had enough stew left over for lunch the next day.
    5. Despite the cold, we do not run the heat at night. (We have natural gas for heat) My mother in law has an electric blanket that she turns on to warm up the bed then turns off when she goes to sleep. If she gets too cold at night, she just turns it back on. My son, husband, and myself are very hot natured and do not like a heated room when we sleep at night anyway.
    6. Moved our son and daughter-in-law into their new home with the help of some friends, thus saving on hiring a moving van.
    7. Took lunch to work on Monday. At my school, the staff is treated to lunch by one of the committees as an appreciation on the last day of the month so Friday was a free meal. This month was pizza and salad. Yea!
    8. Accepted some leftovers from a friend. She had cooked for company that did not show up, so she brought the extras to me. It was enough for us to eat some at dinner and for my son to take the rest for lunch the next day.
    9. Accepted a brand new denim skirt from my mother in law. She decided she did not like it after she bought it so it has never been worn.
    10. Bought a very nice dress jacket from the thrift store for three dollars to go with a skirt that I am wearing to a ladies' conference in March.
    11. Filed my taxes myself to save on the fee our accountant charges. I started filing our taxes myself using the free fillable forms about three years ago because the fees had gotten into the hundreds to do our taxes and then you had to pay an additional fee to schedule an appointment if you wanted to see the accountant. I was able to deduct the interest from my student loan payments on our taxes this year and that helped us tremendously!

    Typing this list has made me smile because I can see that little things really do add up! Have a blessed week!

  38. Wow! I wish my utility bills had gone down -- our electricity was over 200 dollars this past month :(

    I have decided to do a better job this month at turning off lights and unplugging small appliances and computers to save on electricity. Inspired by you, Brandy, I will try to lower the temp from 68 to 67 in the house, and maybe 66 while we sleep.

    We attended a super bowl party (we don't have cable) and were sent home chicken wings and rolls. The rolls have been supplementing hubbies lunch and the wings got frozen in two different batches to be reheated for quick dinners :) Began purchasing "produce boxes" from a local supplier this month. I get them every other week and they have tons of fruits and veggies and even eggs :) Its more than enough per week for hubby and I so I freeze what we don't get to. I figure once I have a freezer full, I can take an extra week or two off from the produce boxes, save even MORE money (they are already way cheaper than the store) and eat out of the freezer that week instead of fresh!

    Was trying to replace plastic containers with glass for health reasons so I started collecting jars from food we buy -- recycling and free :)

    Darned several more socks, sewed a pillowcase, hung clothes to dry, washed on cold, used lots of leftovers, packed all lunches, used blankets when cold in the house.

    1. Just a couple of degrees makes a big difference on the bill! I had mine at 66 and 67º last year and got it from $110 to $90, and now at 65º and then not on for two weeks it was $51! You should see a difference.

  39. I'm extremely impressed with your reductions in your utility bills, Brandy. I am so happy for you with this accomplishment. Keep up the good work! It's also inspiring since I sometimes want to say "Forget it!" or sometimes I feel like I'm the only one that cares. I get really frustrated when I feel like all I do is walk around the house turning off lights that everyone else has walked away from, but when I see posts like this, it encourages me to continue fighting the good fight! :)

    Having said that, I'm not feeling particularly frugal this week since I spent all of my grocery allotment (2 weeks worth) in one day. :( I did get many great deals, but I don't have any extra to buy milk if we should need it before my husband gets paid again (and we probably will even though we've been cutting back significantly). The one positive is that I only spent $20 of my grocery money on dairy! I only bought milk, butter, and Parmesan cheese (which I found at Winco for cheaper than Sam's!). My husband is trying some new dietary changes so I bought a lot of nuts, dried fruit, and eggs, but also got some good deals on fresh fruits and veggies.

    OK, this might be an "eww" for some, but I promise it's not that bad. My husband has been cooking hard-boiled eggs to take to work for snacks and breakfast, etc. Recently I was craving a cup of hot tea and he had just boiled some eggs. They were still sitting on the stove piping hot so I thought, "Frugal Accomplishment! There is hot water in that pan and I want hot tea!" So, I spooned the eggs out of the hot water and placed them in a colander to cool. Then I poured the hot water over my tea bag. I feel like I accomplished two things really because after I used the hot water for my tea, I just had to towel dry the pot and put it away since it had only been used to boil water. Did it again for pasta! He boiled a really large pot of water to hard boil a dozen eggs so I reused the water to boil our pasta for dinner.

    I've been doing much better with staying ahead of the dishes that need to be washed and just washing by hand. At most I will do two sink-loads (usually one in the morning and one after dinner) for a total of 2 gallons of water and only a 1/2 tsp. of dish soap.

    Made more snacks for the kids lunches: homemade granola, yogurt, chocolate wafer cookies, and graham crackers (both credit to Brandy's recipes found on website under "Desserts"). Also made more bread for sandwiches. Running low on buttermilk...mental note: time to forage for .28/quart buttermilk again! :D

    Cooked all dinners from scratch and from my menu plan. Black bean soup, Pasta e Fagioli, Butternut Squash soup (also both Brandy's recipes under "Soups"), caramelized onions in the crock pot thanks to a reader post (out on the back patio so I didn't have to smell them all day), then used for French Onion soup, Shredded chicken tacos from chicken I had in the freezer, and a pizza night. Currently thawing a turkey in the fridge for a new week of Frugal Dinners and Cobb salads for lunches.

    Hubby has been more engaged in my frugal ways lately which is greatly appreciated. While he has always performed the routine maintenance on our cars and cut his own hair (and he did both this week), he is also seeing the value in the way I shop and the planning that goes into what I buy. Lately he has been pulling up store ads online to find a good price for something he wants to buy (like the eggs or certain produce he'd like to have) and has been much (MUCH!) better about bringing food to work with him. If I had not accomplished anything else this week, I can feel satisfied with this. I think this is the best frugal accomplishment yet!

    God Bless! Have a great week everyone!

    1. I LOVE milk.

      However, we've had to make changes, and it can be done.

      Where do you find that you HAVE to have milk? Is it cold cereal? Ditch the cold cereal and make muffins instead. If the recipe calls for milk use water. Try changing what you eat so that you can do without milk until you are able to purchase some again.

      Also, consider buying a large box of store-brand instant powdered milk. If you need a bit of milk for cooking you can easily mix up just that little bit. We had powdered milk this morning when we needed milk and it worked out well.

    2. Mainly it's the kids' and my husband's beverage choice with their dinner, but my husband has been having water with his meals lately rather than milk. We have also been cutting the kids back at dinner by giving them just one half-full glass and then, if they're still thirsty, they have to have water. Because my kids are young and still growing (like weeds!), I feel compelled to have it as a staple in their diets. I buy whole fat milk and use it to make yogurt as well. I don't buy cold cereal, but occasionally the kids will eat the granola as if it were a cold breakfast cereal and put milk on that. I would like to add powdered milk to my pantry, but it seems so expensive in relation to the liquid. I have been researching some different options, though because I want to have something, if only for emergency purposes. I am hopeful that the garden will take off and the kids will start getting their calcium from plant sources rather than from drinking so much milk! :/

    3. I think it is wonderful that you were able to reuse the hot water for tea & for pasta after your husband boiled his eggs!

      If you think you will run low on the milk, you can "water" the milk by adding a cup of water to half a gallon of milk. If that is all you add, AND if no one sees you, no one will be able to tell. So... once the milk in the carton is down at least 2 cups, add 2 cups of water, one for each half gallon, and you "gain" one pint of milk per gallon.

      Another way to stretch milk is to serve cocoa for breakfast - the kind you mix with hot water. We keep several cans on hand, & when the children were younger, if the milk was running short, they had cocoa with a muffin or a cinnamon roll for breakfast. No one complained.

      I don't know if they sell it where you are, but here along the Wasatch Front, I can buy buttermilk powder, which stores well as long as it is kept cool, like dry milk. It adds variety to our possibilities when milk prices skyrocket, & I need a little milk for something like a cream sauce or a white sauce. It goes on sale during the case lot sales.

    4. That's a great idea! I'm going to do that today because I just opened a new gallon and it's probably down 2 cups by now. I am really happy that we still have two gallons left from the four I bought on Friday. That's practically a miracle! Now I can't wait to see how much longer it lasts!
      I have seen buttermilk powder...I'm not sure if I can get it at Sam's, but I have a Honeyville store down the street and I know they have it there. I like to wait for one of their sales because it's not along my normal route to go over there. I have seen smaller quantities in the grocery stores, too so I could buy a little one until I'm able to get to Honeyville.
      Thanks for all the great tips!

    5. You're getting a good dose of calcium from that water used to boil eggs. I don't drink hot tea but do save my egg water for my plants. They love it! Especially the orchids, African violets and roses.

  40. I was able to purchase $120 worth of groceries for $49 using coupons, my store card and sale items. Many items were to stock up.

    I purchased powdered milk to use in baking

    I purchased two gallons of milk for .99 each on clearance

    We had a three way swithc installed in our basement. We had had to leave lights on because there are limited windows and so it is too dark to walk through in the mornings. With a switch on the other side we can now turn the lights off and on no matter which end we are on.

    Replaced our bathroom burned out light with an LED light.

    Did my taxes using H&R block...saved $10 as we had used it before and the company sent the discount

    Paid bills on line to save on checks, envelopes and stamps. Paid one bill within a time frame and saved 10%.

    Used the carcass from a chicken to make two large batches of chicken broth. One I added chicken too and will add noodles when I need too. Both were put in the freezer.

    Purchased a lap top from our aunt for $75. We will share it with our in-laws who were looking for a DVD player to use in the summer. Hopefully I can do some work on that instead of the big home computer. I am also going to try turning of the computer during the evenings...partially to be frugal but more importantly to not have the temptation to 'quickly check my email" and to spend more time with my family.

    Downloaded free books to my kindle and listened to Pandora for free

    printed coupons and signed up to try "saving star"

    we had a piece for our tractor repaired and it was only $15! My husband is able to fix the rest.(hopefully before the next batch of snow comes.)

    received a free copy of Crystal Paine's (moneysavingmom) new book " Say goodbye to Survival Mode" and also a copy of "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Stafford...both are excellent. I am really trying to organize my priorities and figure out my goals.

    continuing to not spend 5 dollar bills. I saved $55 in January and have $25 already for February.

    My in laws took my children out to eat Friday night. We had a date night.

    We ate at home all of last week with homemade meals.

  41. I don't drink milk and i don't cook so I have never bought a gallon of milk in my life so I am absolutely clueless but why are so many people rationing milk, is it really expensive or is it that big families go through so much or some other reason?

    1. Milk can be $4 a gallon in some places. If I buy a gallon of milk and give everyone 1 cup (8 ounces) we will drink the whole gallon in one sitting (plus someone won't get any). Most people pour a larger glass than that--which would mean easily going through 2 gallons at a meal. If you have a $25 a week grocery budget for your family, $4 of that going towards drinks is a HUGE part of your budget. For the cost of a gallon of milk, I can feed 9 people for a day. In a bigger family one could easily go through several gallons of milk in a week.

      Everyone has to eat--how is it that you don't cook?

    2. No kids I need to feed so I never developed an interest in cooking, eat out most meals or my brother never eats leftovers so after they eat supper they send extra food from that night our way. For a single person I can eat out cheaper than buying groceries that wind up throwing 1/2 of away. Never even used a quart of milk up so didn't even think about a big family consuming a gallon in a single sitting.

    3. When I was single, I used to make a big batch of Tuscan Tomato Bread soup and eat from it for several days. If you don't want the same soup every day you could make some and freeze the leftovers in single-sized portions. Then make another soup the next day and do the same. Within a few days you'll have several weeks worth of food cooked and frozen ready to use.

      I made lentil soup a lot as well, and meatless spaghetti. I also made a pasta dish with zucchini, red onions, tomatoes and pesto. I would make sandwiches with French bread and cheese (and sometimes ham). I made tabouli.

      I would make salad with oil and vinegar (now I make homemade dressings).

      I would make crepes, fried eggs with toast, or have yogurt with museli for breakfast.

      As an occasional treat, I would splurge on portobello mushroom ravioli, but that was only about once a month.

      I couldn't afford to eat out. Making a bowl of soup for $3 that lasted me 4 days was something I could afford.

      You might like cooking! I am certain it can save you money over eating out. Freeze your leftovers for another meal so that you don't have any waste.

    4. On further reflection, there were two years when I would occasionally eat out at the Museum Cafe (a $4-$5 meal). It was a rare thing, and in order to be able to afford to do so, two days that week I would only eat 2 pieces of toast for breakfast in order to have the money to go one time. Yes, I was hungry those days, but I did enjoy a particular pasta salad there (which I later replicated to make for my family!)

    5. Someone just made an interesting comment on Money Saving Mom's Facebook page that I found really interesting.

      She said that by taking her lunch to work every day, she saves enough money to make her car payment!

  42. My excitement for the week was finding organic thyme and sage plants at the 99 cents only store :)

  43. This week I got free body wash, makeup, Tena, Delsym medicine, and Nicoderm patches for $1.49! I also posted about how I feed my whole family with only 2 chicken breasts with a step-by-step photo tutorial. Full posts and pics at

  44. This wk:
    We had a snow day so we saved on gas. Hubby stayed home but will make up his hrs on saturday if necessary.
    I bought 30 lbs of potatoes for 26¢/lb
    I did some couponing and made $15 in catalinas. During same trip, found a coupon for free eggs!
    I made a turkey for Super Bowl specifically for sandwiches. It was fairly small, 13 lbs but still make 3 dinners... Turkey enchiladas, turkey soup & turkey fried tacos.
    My husband cancelled his whole life ins policy. Saving us $85/ mo. He receives free ins thru his work, term and we pay a small premium for his retired military ins.
    I made a half batch of choco chip cookies so my duaghter could take some to friend who helped her w homework. I bought 4 "candy canes" filled w M&Ms for 22¢ each. Separated the red/green. So i can make half batches for valentines and st pattys.
    Brandy.. I have been looking at your pinterest board for gardening inspiration. Ive had gardens in the past but havent invested much into this yard. I did tell my hubby i would like to do one this yr. my yard is not fenced, leaving it open to rabbits, skunks and deer. I live in a surburban neighborhood but i see these animals heading for my neighbors garden. Any advice? Should i consider putting up a fence?

    1. Not just a fence, but also an underground fence: a few feet down using chicken wire to keep the rabbits from burrowing under. You may want to plant a living fence if you have deer problems--a quick growing hedge that grows really tall (like privet) to keep them from jumping into your yard.

    2. If there are deer, the fence will need to be 7 to 8 feet tall. It is worth doing a lot of research and talking to your neighbors and the garden club in your area.

    3. Thank you brandy...I wouldnt have thought to use chicken wire as a underground barrier.
      Andrea, i would love to speak to my neighbors who have the garden but they dont speak english. Lol. We use ALOT of hand movements. I will have to see if I can find a garden club.

  45. Utilities are really hitting everyone hard this winter. I have had family and friends talk about how propane has doubled in price since November. With all of the extremely cold weather they've had, many have had to refill their tanks and really paid a steep price! It's so nice to see you point out what a difference a few degrees change on the thermostat makes on your bill.

    Since it's been cold, even in Texas, we have struggled to keep our house warm. Our house has been averaging a temperature of 66 degrees inside and we are all electric here. I am home all day and have to work from the computer most of it. I have found that if I run my portable electric fireplace in my office with the door mostly shut, it is really comfortable in there. My parents do the same in Illinois by shutting off parts of the house they don't use in the winter. They don't have central heat/air so it doesn't cause any issues. It is also good to keep closet doors shut to reduce heating bills.

    This week I went to the Dollar Tree and picked up a year's supply of birthday cards. They have really nice cards for .50 each and nice American Greetings cards for $1.00. I stick with the .50 ones since they meet my needs. I like handpicking the cards knowing I get ones that match the personality of the recipient. It saves me time down the road when I assemble a birthday gift to mail off or give away.

    Also, I used the USPS website to print postage for a package I needed to mail. Doing it that way is cheaper. They took .50 off of my order. The thing I like about it is that every option is open for you to see costs, weight, size, speed of shipment, etc. I was able to package my own items for cheaper than the smallest flat-rate shipping that way. I spent 5.25 to send it.

    I used my Amazon credit for books traded-in and a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks to buy a ravioli press I've been wanting to go with my pasta maker. We've nearly eliminated ravioli from our diets because of the cost. I'm hoping to make a wide variety now from spinach, butternut squash, mushroom and more. I like to make huge batches of things and flash freeze, so I think this will work.

    I made a loaf of homemade bread and soup from vegetables in the freezer. That reminds me, we have found that bulk frozen vegetables from Costco (and possibly Sam's) are way cheaper per ounce that canned vegetables. You aren't paying for any of the liquid like you do in the can. We found when our kids were going through their hungry teenage years we could easily adjust portions without much effort or added expense. I like how good they are for stir fry over rice too.

    I made my own batch of Thieves essential oil blend. I found the recipe online. Since all of the flu, colds, and sickness is going around I have been diffusing it in my house. I had all of the essential oils on hand but the rosemary. I just went out and snipped a sprig of that and threw it in to be diffused.

    I found a pair of "brand new" leather boots at Goodwill for myself for 4.95. Surprisingly, there was a special sale on all items with yellow tags (new items donated by Target) and that is how I got them so cheap! They are brown leather with a buckle on the side. I rarely see that kind offered at Goodwill.

    I went to our local feed store for chicken feed. I am always happy to shop there because I get 50# laying pellets for 12.00. If I went to a big box store I would only be able to 25# for that price. Feed stores sell all kinds of stuff from gardening supplies, dog food, baby chicks, ducks, geese, mulch and more. The prices are worth checking out. Our feed stores are all locally owned and they appreciate the business too.

    I've enjoyed reading everyone's accomplishments this week. :) Stay warm!

    1. I like our feed store too, family owned and run.

  46. It has been really cold here as well. Brrr.

    * had a $25 credit for a clothing store. Bought my son some jeans in the next size up. He is slim and pants are really hard to find second hand
    * trying to use up the misc items in the freezer ~ used up a few blueberries and some hamburger buns
    * planning my grocery shop for later in the week
    * was able to get a couple free lightbulbs at Rite Aid with sale, coupon, UPR's
    * making good use of the library :). My 10 year old saw some books in the book fair flyer that I was able to request from the library!

  47. Hello. I listed my frugal accomplishments here on my blog: I started this new blog this week instead of paying to add more space to my wordpress blog. (I've written on here before as emersonfamily.) Now that our new baby is 3 months old we are back to almost all our frugal ways. This past week I added in making bread and dairy products. I made a batch of yogurt and a batch of kefir.

  48. Did the usual of recycling, using up leftovers, hung laundry to dry (inside on racks), used wood stove to supplement heat, found .10 on ground and .25 in laundry. Youngest back at University this week so carpooled with her. Only went grocery shopping once used reusable bag so .05 credit to bill. Sold another batch of books/textbooks/CDs/DVDs at used book store and got $65.00. The children have down loaded most of their music leaving the CDs behind...they said go ahead and sell them. I also cleared out some cookbooks. I collect cookbooks and people know that so I am always being given them when people are trying to clear out their own collections. (I would not sell ones I have received as presents!) If they don't interest me after awhile I decided it is OK to get rid of them. So far the book store took all cookbooks I took there.

    Cooked all from scratch. Made a pineapple upside down cake, 2 pumpkin pies from pulp I cooked, banana cake with cream cheese frosting. These were for husband's birthday. He originally wanted whip cream on the banana cake but decided after ?? years he wants cream cheese frosting. Made spaghetti pie using leftovers of spaghetti noodles, cooked broccoli, the ends of 2 containers of cottage cheese, 3 eggs, dried parsley, diced shriveled grape tomatoes, shredded mozarella, spices. Served topped with leftover spaghetti sauce. Made bagels, poppy seed and sesame seed. Made biscuits to go with another meal of the pot roast made earlier. Then took the last of the pot roast and 2 pie crusts from freezer and added some corn and peas and made into a pot pie for the last meal of it. Made blueberry pancakes with berries I froze in summer (oh so long ago). Made one loaf of white bread and made the rest of the dough into bread sticks. Made lentil soup. Made baked beans in the crockpot. Never made bb that way before. I presoaked the beans but they still took about 18 hours to cook. Is that normal?? Made potato salad.

    Had the bb and potato salad at husband's birthday party on Saturday. We had roast pig for the meat of his sister's (he has 3 brothers and 4 sisters) lives in Iowa and raises pigs and they make sausage, bacon etc. They brought it all cooked and shredded and another sister brought all the buns. Nice party...he wanted picnic food so people brought things like jello salads, cole slaw, pickles, deviled eggs etc.

  49. Just posted my frugal week here:

    Brandy thank you for allowing us to share links or comments here. I've learned so much and met some wonderfully like minded bloggers. It's so nice to have a place to gather where I'm not 'weird' lol.

  50. I just made cabbage soup with the cabbage harvested from the garden. My first time ever and it is delicious! I had all other ingredients on hand from the pantry.

    I received a big bag of children's hand-me-down clothing and shoes. All in great shape.

    Hubs had a deer processed. His first deer ever. He did splurge and get some sausage made up but still, 50lbs at about $2.50lb. I'm guessing that sounds good, right? Deer chili coming up! All other ingredients are already found in the pantry.

  51. We found that commercial deer processing was way overpriced. My husband taught himself to clean and field dress deer to get it on ice right away. Quicker processing results in no gamely taste at all. We have a grinder to make hamburger and we cut the rest up in various ways. We are now learning to make our own sausage. Where there is a will there is a way.

  52. A little late to this party, but I wanted to thank you for all the tips. Also wanted to let you know you are actually doing something frugal but did not count it. If you keep your laptop plugged in all of the time when you are using it, the battery will stop being able to hold a full charge. Eventually it won't hold a charge at all. Then you will have to replace the battery sooner rather than later on down the road. It is also good to every once in a while run it down almost all of the way-then give it a full charge before using. It increases the battery life. Hope this helps.


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