Tag Archives: Saving Money

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

3 Jun
I'm super bad at taking photos of myself with my new camera.  I thought this sign was a little crazy that I found on vacation.  It read: "Enter at your own risk.  Limited Emergency Services Available."

I’m super bad at taking photos of myself with my new camera. I thought this sign was a little crazy that I found on vacation. It read: “Enter at your own risk. Limited Emergency Services Available.”

It was finally dry enough to till the garden!  I have been anxiously waiting for over a month to get the garden planted to I am stoked!  So far I have planted green beans, lettuce, a herb garden, and some peas.  It’s too late to plant peas but I decided to plant some in a shady spot and see what happens.  I’m really hoping to have a nice herb garden this year.

Elijah & I went on vacation with my family. ( Unfortunately Brandon wasn’t able to join us.)  We packed two coolers: a small cooler that fits between our van seats filled with drinks & a larger cooler that contained some larger items (milk & oj).  I did a little bit of shopping for things that we needed: new pajamas for Eli (they were cheaper than I could sew them), shoes/clothes for me, & I even purchased Elijah 2 new pairs of Stride Rite gym shoes at an outlet for $16.  These shoes retail about $50 each so I was super excited about this!  We went back to Dollywood where I have a pass & Elijah gets in free.  We had a lovely time on vacation and I am so glad we were able to go.

When I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago I left a bag of books (oops) at our hotel.  Thankfully I was able to pick them up this week instead of paying $25 to have them shipped.

I watched Downton Abbey Season 1 this past week which I borrowed from the library.  (There is one scene in the first episode you need to fast forward through.)

I purchased a pair of maternity shorts at a thrift store.  Yeah!  They are super comfy and look great.  I also found a gift bag for .25 that is beautiful.  I will be using it for an upcoming wedding present.

A very unfrugal thing happened last week.  My van actually broke while we were on vacation.  Thankfully I was not along an interstate!  After carefully weighing the options I chose to get the van fixed rather than tow it home (we were 5 hours away).  It did okay on the drive home so I am just hoping there is nothing else wrong.  This was a major bummer and I think we will have to tighten our belt of frugality for the next few months to make up for it.  We had just had the van serviced so we were not expecting this in our budget.  😦  The mechanic told me to expect more repairs this summer which is disappointing and a little stressful.

What are your best tips for saving money during the summer months?

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

25 May
We had a great time enjoying the new Reptile Exhibit at the Zoo.

We had a great time enjoying the new Reptile Exhibit at the Zoo.

We went to the zoo one day using our zoo pass which is going to expire at the end of the month.  It was lovely and we even packed a picnic.  We have a very nice sized cooler that fits conveniently in the bottom of our stroller.

I mended a bunch of Eli’s clothes including a bunch of underwear.  I don’t know how in the world he gets holes in them all the time.

Thankfully I was able to cook again this week.  It was a busy week for me but I used the Crock-Pot 3 times.  I even used it to make Tapioca one day for dessert.

I made this tote bag for my son this past week.  The outside has a pocket that holds 8 crayons.

I made this tote bag for my son this past week. The outside has a pocket that holds 8 crayons.

I sewed a small tote bag for Elijah that is very similar to the one I made for my cousin Anna.  I had all of the material on hand.  I let Eli choose between a couple of different fabrics that I had purchased on sale.  He chose a fun jungle print.  Thankfully I even had some webbing on hand.  I have made tote bags in the past and have used fabric for the handles but I really prefer the webbing.  The tote bag is a great size for a 3-year-old.  It holds a couple of toys, a book, and a snack.

We finally got to go kayaking again for the first time this year!  My husband & I both own kayaks so this is an almost free activity for us.  We usually kayak on a large local lake so our only expense is gas.  We always pack a cooler so we aren’t tempted to stop to buy drinks on the way home.  🙂  It’ll be interesting to see how far into the summer I will be able to kayak since I’m expecting.  I felt pretty wobbly getting in this time.  🙂

I canned strawberry jam using strawberries I had purchased for 1.00/pound.  This was my first time making strawberry jam and it was definitely a success.  The jam itself is also highly addictive!  I think we ate more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches this week because of it!

We have been keeping the windows open instead of running the air conditioner most days.

My sweet hubby picked up a book for me on Photoshop 11 from the library.  I have taken two 2 classes on Photoshop from our library but I really only know how to do a couple of things in the program.  One of my goals for this year is to learn how to take better photographs & edit them.  Does anyone have any tips on great free tutorials online?

Eli & I went to a street sale.  We had lots of fun together walking around the entire neighborhood.  I purchased a tablecloth, 2 maternity skirts, 3 dress shirts for Brandon in his exact size, a bassinett cover, a book for Eli that I hope to read aloud sometime next year, 2 vintage handkerchiefs  a pair of earrings, and a magnetic game for Eli.  I’m planning on purchasing a cheap cookie sheet and letting Eli play with magnets on our next road trip.  Has anyone tried this?

What frugal things did you do last week?  

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

13 May
The Curling Iron/Flat Iron Case I sewed last week.

The Curling Iron/Flat Iron Case I sewed last week.

 

I sewed a mother’s day gift for my mother-in-law using materials I had on hand.  I made a Flat Iron/Curling Iron Case since she does a lot of traveling.  It is made out of special batting (Insul-Brite) so you can actually put your hair tools inside while it is still hot.  I thought it was a pretty neat idea.  I used this tutorial but I attached the bias tape differently than they did.  It was a little tricky but I was pleased with how it turned out.  I may have to invest in a walking foot if I sew another one.

I cooked!  I’ve been fairly nauseated this pregnancy so this is a big accomplishment for me.  I even cooked ground beef one night which is huge for me!  Along with cooking lunch & dinner most days I made Banana Muffins (to use up old bananas) and homemade CrockPot granola.

I received a book from PaperBack Swap that had been on my wish list.

Elijah & I made homemade Koolaid Playdoh one day when it was rainy.  He played with it for almost an hour!

We picked wildflowers to use as our table centerpiece this week.

I combined all of our errands into one morning to save time and gas.  It was tiring (I ran 8) but it was great to get them all out-of-the-way at once.

I hosted Mother’s Day brunch at our home on Mother’s Day right after church for 10 people.  I served: Fresh Fruit with Dip, Biscuit & Gravy Casserole, French Toast Apple Strata, Sausage Bake, Cinnabon Coffee Cake, and we had a Yogurt Bar with different toppings.  For drinks we had Water with lemons, Milk, Orange Juice, Coffee, & Homemade Starbucks Iced Cappuccino.  I think everyone had a really nice time.  I really enjoyed changing things up and serving brunch instead of lunch or dinner.  🙂

I watched a free newborn photography class from Creative Live.  Realistically I doubt I will feel well enough to take our new baby’s newborn photos but we’ll see.  I learned so much from the class.  I’m half tempted to borrow a baby doll and practice!  In case I’m not feeling well enough I would welcome a recommendation for a photographer in the area who has experience with newborns.

Elijah & I picked up a free small jar of paint from Lowes.  I had a craft project in mind for Eli’s room so I let him choose the color.  The man at Lowe’s was so kind that he let Elijah pick out whatever color he wanted.  Then he let him go behind the counter and watch the paint get mixed.  I think this was the highlight of Eli’s day!

My aunt came over and worked on our landscaping.  She gave us some perennials to fill in some of the bare spots and even planted them!  I can’t wait until they bloom.

I still haven’t been able to get my garden planted because it will not stop raining!  Does anyone have any advice for speeding up plant growth?  

 

 

 

Frugal Things I Did The Last Two Weeks

7 May
The lined tote bag I made for my cousin's 4th birthday.  The pocket on the outside holds 8 crayons.

The lined tote bag I made for my cousin’s 4th birthday. The pocket on the outside holds 8 crayons.

We just returned from a WONDERFUL vacation to the Smoky Mountains a couple days ago.  I took a break from technology while on vacation so I thought I would share things I did during the past 2 weeks.  Honestly we pretty much took a break from our “frugal ways” and splurged a lot while on vacation.  We saved up for our vacation and paid cash for everything.  🙂   

I made a nice tote bag for my cousin Anna’s 4th birthday.  It has a pocket on the outside for crayons and is lined (& padded).  It is small enough that she can actually carry it but large enough that it will hold enough toys for a day trip.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.  I hope to make Elijah one sometime this summer.

I went to lots of yard sales with my Mom one Saturday.  I don’t often get to go shopping with her so this was a real treat.  I found some really cute clothes for Eli, a maternity jacket for myself, and even a few baby items.  😉

I found the 3t/4t  summer clothes box for Elijah.  He always gets so excited when I get out of box of clothes.  Sometimes there are even toys inside!  I buy most of Elijah’s clothes at yard sales or thrift stores the year before he will be a certain size.  This summer I will be looking to buy clothes for this winter and next year.  This saves us LOTS of money and really helps us from having to purchase lots of clothing last minute when the weather changes.  Usually I notice a few gaps in what is in the box that I will fill in as needed.  I also found a pair of sandals in his box that fit him great but no gym shoes.  It’s really hard to find decent used little boy shoes at this age!

My aunt gave me a huge box of Pink Pull Ups and Little Swimmers.  I don’t care at all that the Pull Ups are pink and will let Eli sleep in them.  🙂  I am sending the Little Swimmers to keep at my parent’s house.  They have a pool and Eli often goes swimming when he visits.  (Since we swim a lot we use cloth swim diapers most of the time.)  My aunt also gave me a pink sled and a pair of snow boots which may or may not fit Eli next winter.  I will add the snow boots to Eli’s winter box.  If they don’t fit this winter then I will just give them to a friend.

My husband preached a revival at another church in the area.  Each night before the service they had dinner which we enjoyed. It was so nice not having to make dinner for four nights and a great way to fellowship with members of that church.

I received two free books to review in the mail this week.  I read one while on vacation and it was great!  🙂

We stayed at a Comfort Inn (Choice Hotels) for our vacation.  Usually when traveling this is our hotel of choice because as Farm Bureau Members we receive an excellent rate.  Our rate was about $15 cheaper per night than anything I found online.  Comfort Inn hotels are usually family friendly, have a great indoor pool, clean, quiet, and have a wonderful breakfast.  We ate breakfast every morning of vacation (except 1) at the hotel since the food was really good.  We chose to eat out for both lunch and dinner but I did split my food nearly every meal with Eli rather than purchase him a separate kid’s meal.  We also drank water (no stupid tax for us) when dining out.  For snacks we enjoyed fruit or homemade energy bites that I took with us.  We took a small cooler with us.  Each morning I packed it with snacks and drinks to enjoy throughout the day.

A friend passed along jeans that should fit Elijah this winter.

What frugal things did you do last week? 

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

27 Mar
Eli has really enjoyed playing with legos lately.

Eli has really enjoyed playing with legos lately.

I think I was more active this past week than I have been in weeks.  I can’t believe last week was the first day of Spring.  It has been cold and snowy here.  I keep telling myself that eventually it must warm up right?  Either way here is my list from this past week:

I received the results from my free soil test from our local Extension office.  This will be our 2nd year gardening and our garden plot needed a good deal of lime as I suspected.  I took Eli with me to buy lime at the Feed Store where he got to see a bunch of baby chicks.  We spread the lime (over 200 pounds) and dreamed about our garden.

This past week was my birthday!  Hooray!  The hubby took me out to eat at Red Lobster one of my favorite restaurants.  We used a gift card to pay for our entire meal so it cost us nothing.

My husband needed to buy new running shoes this week which are expensive.  Since this is something you really do need to try on he purchased them at a local store in town but used a 15% coupon.  I’m always super proud when I can get him to use a coupon.  🙂

Instead of purchasing new piano music for Easter I dug through an old book of arrangements.  I found a lovely arrangement of Low in the Grave He Lay.  The ending was a bit challenging (5 flats) but I decided to work hard on it rather than buy new music which would have probably been $13.  It was good discipline to play a song with that many flats and will help me continue to improve my piano skills.

My mom gave me some celery, carrots, and lemons that someone had given her.

I received the book Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young from InterLibrary Loan at our library this week rather than purchase it on amazon.  It was wonderful by the way!

I took my son to the dentist for a cleaning.  I’m counting this as frugal because we are fully utilizing our dental insurance benefits.  🙂  It also decreases the chance that my son will have to have expensive pediatric fillings which require him to be put to sleep at a young age.

Our family went swimming at our local gym where we have an inexpensive membership.  It was so fun to watch Eli splashing and trying to kick his feet.  It also felt wonderful to me.  My belly has popped out a little bit and it was hard not to rub it the entire time we were swimming.  Ha, ha! 🙂

I received a free Dentastix in the mail for the dog.  I also received baby safety latches in the mail which we will put to good use when our baby comes.  We moved into our current home when my son was almost 2 so we will need to install latches on some of our cabinets.

My mother-in-law sent some clothes for Eli that she had purchased at a consignment sale.

I cut my husband and son’s hair which saved us $30.  For the first time Elijah was really squirmy and honestly I did a bad job.  Thankfully Eli’s Mamaw fixed it! 🙂

What frugal activities did you do this past week? 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

21 Mar

 

I opened the fridge and found a basketball.  Silly little boy!

I opened the fridge and found a basketball. Silly little boy!

 

We are super excited about a new little one joining our family this fall but wow is it ever taking all of my energy to grow this baby and a healthy placenta!  🙂  This week hasn’t been as frugal as most since I am having a hard time cooking but I am trying to cook as much as possible. 

We re-arranged our budget to allow more money for healthcare expenses since we are expecting a baby!  🙂  Currently we have doubled the amount of money that is put towards copays and deductibles.  This summer we will probably change it again as we anticipate a lot of expenses and bills before and after our baby comes.

The hubby & I went on a fun date to Cracker Barrel.  Recently I haven’t been very hungry most of the time (I’m expecting) so I was happy to see that I could order a Kids Meal at Cracker Barrel.  It was just the right amount of food and even included a drink.  After eating we played a roaring game of checkers by the fire.  🙂  I’m quite certain it was the first game of checkers I have ever finished at Cracker Barrel.  We both enjoyed it so much!

Together with my mom, sister, brother, & hubby  we built a float bed to grow plants in.  It is heated which allows us to get a great jump-start on growing our own plants from seed therefore saving lots of money.  🙂  With food prices increasing every year both my parents and I plan to have large gardens this year.

I planted about five different varieties of peppers and two varieties of cabbage in float trays on Thursday.  I grew peppers last year but I was disappointed by the yield that I received.  Hopefully this year will be much better!  We really enjoy eating peppers and I have found that many canning recipes call for them.  I haven’t grown cabbage in the past so the cabbage is entirely experimental.  We shall see!

I received some hand me downs from my mom.  I am hoping to turn two of the shirts into a Ruched Maternity Shirt in the next week or so.

I purchased a turtleneck for Eli for next year, a pair of maternity shorts, and a dozen canning jars at the thrift store.  The maternity shorts were really big on me but I will probably grow into them.  🙂  If they do end up baggy I will just use them for working in the garden.  In all my years of thrift store shopping I have NEVER found canning jars so I was super excited.  I don’t have a dishwasher so I will be sending them to my mom’s house to be washed.

I went out-of-town one night to visit family (& see my cousin in a play) with my son, sister, and Grandma.  We got to the hotel early on purpose so that we would have time to go swimming.  My Grandma even got to watch Eli swim which I think was really special for her.  We made sure to take advantage of the free continental breakfast and unlimited hot beverages.  🙂

What frugal activities did you do last week? 

 

 

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

13 Mar
My sister & I had a great time hiking at Natural Bridge!

My sister & I had a great time hiking at Natural Bridge!

It was a busy week as usual for our family but one full of fun and blessings!  

We had some friends over from church who have been visiting the past couple of months in an attempt to get to know them better.  I made a roast in the CrockPot which was very simple.  I also served Strawberry Yogurt Cake for dessert.

I went on a road trip with my sister to look at a college a couple of hours away.  On the way back we stopped at Natural Bridge to hike which was lots of fun.  It was also free and the perfect way to add some fun to our trip.  🙂  The hubby and I went there a couple of years ago on our first overnight without Eli.  I would also recommend it for a couple’s getaway.

The weather was gorgeous on Saturday so  we headed to the local environmental center in our county.  We spent a couple of hours walking along the nature trails and had a lovely time.  Eli ended up getting stuck in the mud and fell right on his behind.  We all had a good laugh about it!

I took Eli to “FlowerBuds” at our local extension office which was lots of fun.  They have storytime, eat a snack, and spend time learning about growing things.  This week they planted seeds in a raised bed.  My little guy planted about 3 in his row before he just flung the rest of them on the ground.  🙂  The teacher should have known better than to give a 3-year-old lettuce seeds!

I called about a health insurance matter where something had been incorrectly billed last year.  Hopefully it should be fixed within the next month.  I ALWAYS keep all of our EOB and compare them to any bill that comes in the mail which saves us tons of money!

A sweet woman at church handed me a handful of cards that she thought I might be able to use.  I love to send cards and those will be perfect!

I drove my Saturn car all week instead of the van.  It gets excellent gas mileage.  We are saving up to have some van repairs done in the next month.

I received a couple free magazines in the mail including a horse magazine I will give to my little sister.

What frugal things did you do last week? 

 

 

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

6 Mar
This past week Eli and I made a Birdseed Wreath.

This past week Eli and I made a Birdseed Wreath.

This week I was surprised to see how my frugal ways are rubbing off on Elijah.  🙂  I had a coupon (which could be doubled at Meijer) for a fun kids yogurt (that I don’t usually purchase).  When I got to the yogurt without thinking I said, “Oh no it’s not on sale.”  Eli looked at me and said, “It’s okay mom.  We’ll come back tomorrow when it’s on sale and buy it.”  Really?  I laughed so hard.  

As you can see in the picture above Eli and I made a Birdseed Wreath this past week.  It was lots of fun to make and so much cheaper than one from the store.  Our birds absolutely love it!  I had the birdseed on hand from a craft project we never did last year so it really cost nothing!  We have seen all sorts of different birds since we put it up.  I think it would even make a nice gift to give to someone.  🙂

I combined a bunch of errands together to save money on gas one day.

We picked up books & movies from the library.

I took part in a study and earned $50!  That will go towards our vacation fund.  We have a separate checking account set up for our vacation fund.  Since we have debit cards for this account we can use those on our vacation.  We have had a lot of unexpected expenses lately but I am hoping we can save up enough to go on a short vacation this year probably in May.

I used our new carpet cleaner to clean the rug in the bathroom after little man had a bad accident.  If you have young children I think it is a wonderful idea to have your own carpet cleaner.

I received 3 free tea bags in the mail and a couple of magazines.  Eli also received a free Lego magazine which he enjoyed looking at.

I haven’t felt much like cooking breakfast lately so I whipped up a bunch of Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins.  We enjoyed them for breakfast most of the week and for quick snacks.  I served them alongside fruit and hard-boiled eggs.

I finished recording all of our deductions and getting all of our tax information together.  Although it is a major pain we keep track of just about EVERYTHING which saves us a ton of money on our taxes.  🙂

What frugal activities did you do last week?  

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

27 Feb
We had lots of fun playing outside this week.

We had lots of fun playing outside this week.

I took soil samples from our garden and landscaping.  Then I dropped them off at our local extension service.  They will send them off to a lab to be tested and then give me a recommendation for adding minerals to the soil.  This test is completely free and should help improve my garden yields this year.

We went to the zoo this week using our Zoo Pass.  It was a gorgeous day and we had so much fun as a family.  🙂  We even packed a snacky lunch so we avoided the pricey food there.

I took my son on a mommy/son date to get ice cream for just the two of us.  All ice cream tastes great in my opinion so we got the special to share.  It cost only $1.58 and was such a fun thing to do with my little guy.

My husband & I went to the dentist together.  Isn’t that so romantic!  🙂  By taking care of our teeth with regular checkups we are saving money by avoiding expensive dental procedures in the future.

I received a free can of Campbell Soup in the mail to try.  I also received a sample of moisturizer and probiotic for kids.  I always save any sample size medicines or supplements to take with us when we are traveling.

The hubby and I had a lunch date using a gift card.  We also watched a movie from the library together another night.

I ordered seeds (non-GMO seeds) from Berlin Seeds.  I did a bunch of research and price comparing and they were by far the best deal.  My mom & I ordered our seeds together and saved a bunch of money that way.  Usually a larger priced packet of seeds is a better deal than a smaller packet.  We will probably start a bunch of our seeds together in float trays so this will be easy.

What frugal things did you do this past week? 

7 Reasons Why My Family Gardens

21 Feb
Spring is on the way!

Spring is on the way!

 

For the past couple of weeks I have been pouring over seed catalogs and planting schedules.  I just cannot wait to get started on my garden for this year!  This past week I sent my order into my favorite seed company: Berlin Seeds.  I can’t wait until they arrive!  I thought it might be fun to share some of the many reasons why my family chooses to garden.  Honestly the hubby is really busy during the summer months so the majority of the gardening is done by myself and my son Elijah who is 3.

7 Reasons Why We Garden

  • It is a wonderfully frugal activity that also saves money in the process.  Talk about a useful hobby!
  • Gardening is healthy and a great way to exercise.  I also find it incredibly relaxing.  I went down to the garden this week to procure some soil samples and was reminded of just how peaceful it is.  I can’t wait to get back into the daily routine of gardening.
  • The health benefits of eating fresh produce are wonderful.  Last year we used no pesticides or fertilizers in our garden.  We also eat a much wider variety of vegetables because we garden.  No doubt we eat a lot more salads in the spring and summer since I grow them just outside our kitchen door.  I don’t want the lettuce to go to waste so we eat it.  🙂
  • I am making wonderful memories with my family.  Elijah & I had so much fun going out everyday to the garden.  He helped me every single step of the way.  He was only 2.5 last year but I can honestly say he was a big help!  I think his favorite part was planting, watering, and harvesting.  A great gift to give to your children is the gift of your time & allowing them to spend lots of time outside.
  • The taste.  If you haven’t ever had true fresh garden produce then this won’t make any sense to you.  Even my hubby has grown quite partial to our garden raised produce!
  • Variety.  I am able to grow a number of different varieties of vegetables that are not available at our local grocery store.  Some plants don’t ship well so you will not see those varieties for sale.  Our budget would also not allow us to purchase certain items from the produce section.  A packet of seeds usually costs between $1-2.  There are many vegetables in the grocery that cost more than that!  Burpee Seed Company estimates that for every $50 spent a gardener will yield over $1250 worth of produce.  I wouldn’t be surprised if my yield is even more since I start almost all of my plants from seed.
  • Convenience.  I love, love walking down to the garden with a large basket and picking fresh vegetables to use for dinner.  I don’t have to drive anywhere or fight a toddler to have good behavior.  😉  It’s also really handy when I realize that I need a green pepper for a certain recipe but I don’t have one in the fridge.  I just walk down to the garden and pick one.

The book Dirt Cheap Gardening by Rhonda Hart has an excellent appendix in the back where she lists the cost savings of growing certain vegetables.  Last year was my first year having my own garden (although I did garden growing up).  I primarily chose foods that would save us lots of money to grow ourselves and foods that we really enjoy eating.  For example we grew peppers because they are ridiculously expensive to buy and we love eating them in all sorts of dishes.  One pepper costs well over $1.00.  You could spend $1.00 on pepper seeds and have plenty of peppers to enjoy all summer and plenty leftover to put up for the winter.

Cost Savings of Growing (adapted from Dirt Cheap Gardening)

High Savings: Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cucumbers  Eggplant, Lettuce (leaf), Green Onions, Peppers, Rhubarb, Summer Squash, & Tomatoes.

Medium Savings: Bush Beans, Pole Beans, Beets, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Kohlrabi, Head Lettuce, Muskmelon, Parsnips, Peas, Radishes, Spinach

Low Savings: Cabbage, Onions, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Winter Squash

Last year we grew cucumbers, leaf lettuce, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, bush beans, sugar snap peas, pumpkins, and winter squash.  We purposefully chose not to grow corn since it takes up lots of room & we don’t eat it that often.  I’m also still a little bitter about freezing tons and tons of it and then loosing our freezer a couple years ago.  😉  We also chose not to grow onions & potatoes since the cost savings are low.  This year I plan on attempting to grow the following in addition to last year’s vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Leeks, Carrots, Head Lettuce, Peas, Spinach, & Cabbage.