Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 28 January 2018

Now that we’re near the end of January, I loosened up a little on my No Spend Month, but not the Pantry Challenge. I did do some shopping this week on non-essentials, but went into the stores with a very specific list and made the most of the budget, and walked away VERY happy with the results. I also knocked several items off my house project list in the process.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following the news, the government shutdown that had us concerned when I last posted was short lived – this time. Hearing that things were bumped until 8 February was helpful, but only slightly. We are happy that there will be a paycheck at the end of January, but now we’re leery about mid-month pay for February. There’s always the chance that another shutdown will occur, so we’ll keep things tightened up until we know more. I’ve budgeted for an extra car payment but we’ll hold it until mid-month, just in case we need cash on hand instead. Same with some other items I want to purchase; they aren’t true needs, just filling in backstock as I’ve pulled the last of certain items to be used. That order will wait until mid-month. We’ll keep eating from the pantry and working those menu plans too. 🙂

Thank you, kind readers, to everyone who took the time to comment here and elsewhere, particularly those who expressed concern and care regarding our worries with the shutdown. That was lovely of you and much appreciated!

Alrighty – all that said, here’s my list of frugal accomplishments for the past week, with thanks to Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for being a gracious hostess to all who participate in this weekly mashup.

  • Wrote up menu plan for dinners from items already on hand
  • Walked two nights (free exercise)
  • Homemade dishwasher detergent each load
  • Ate oatmeal five mornings (instead of buying fiber shakes)
  • Husband used the last of a can of Mountain House “Breakfast Scramble” that I had open to make lunch for himself and the kids, helping rotate it and preventing purchase of lunch out somewhere
  • Four Overdrive book holds came in
  • Husband learned how to download movies via Overdrive – he’s excited to watch them while working out!
  • Strange as this is going to sound LOL – doing the speed limit saved me money Monday morning! I usually watch my speed, primarily because I know it saves my fuel economy, but also because I don’t want to have to pay a ticket. While driving home Monday, I noticed an SUV coming up on my left REALLY fast – I was doing 55 in a 55mph zone, and they blew past me – then it suddenly slowed down. Within moments, said SUV was pulled over behind me by an unmarked SUV that was behind all of us. Yikes! Obviously I don’t know if the person got ticketed or not, but if there was one to be paid, I’m simply grateful it wasn’t for me. I’m hoping everyone got where they were going safely that day!
  • Watched a free PBS “Two Cents” video with my son about buying used vs. new vehicles
  • Pulled together the paperwork to submit to my daughter’s father for orthodontia reimbursement
  • Messaged the owner of the local bookshop to see what used books she might need/want; we are going through our bookshelves and if I can help stock her shelves while organizing ours, and maybe get a bit of store credit, it’s win-win!
  • Figured up the options for paying off husband’s car early; I have three scenarios, one of which will have it paid off this time next year (apx 3 years early) – we’ll see what happens with the paychecks in the near future though. Another option would have it paid off in 18 months or so, which is still nice and early. No matter which route we choose, we have concrete numbers to look at for the overall goal of early payoff.
  • Used drying racks for laundry
  • Used Sun Oven to bake cookies and eggs again
  • Discussed No Spend Month with a friend and committed to doing one with her in March
  • Looked up the retail prices of some homeschool curriculum I hope to sell, so I can price it competitively
  • Dropped off library books & DVDs while in town to prevent late fees
  • Made homemade all-purpose and window cleaning sprays
  • Received our utility rebate and transferred it to savings
  • Used a gift card my parents left for us to go to lunch; ate leftovers for dinner. (They bought gift cards for this restaurant before their Christmas trip and received 4x fuel points for them, but then left the remaining card here for us – it’s my step-dad’s favorite restaurant, so he splurged here but they don’t have one local to them.)
  • Filled the truck with $1 off fuel points, taking diesel to $1.69 per gallon
  • Replaced the cabinet handles of our TV stand – we got it in 2010 with a deep discount because of a chip on the back corner and a missing door pull; multiple PCS moves later, only one of the pulls is still attached (turned out they were just held in with a slip of metal the size of a paper clip). I picked four different pulls I liked and my family helped narrow it down to two they liked, then I chose the less expensive of those two. Total was $13 and it looks much nicer – and the doors are MUCH easier to open again!
  • Did a makeover of the desk space between our kitchen and dining room. I was getting really tired of/stressed by looking at the cork board of paperwork and the printer from where I sit in the living room and the IKEA catalog was getting mighty tempting! I could also use more counter space next to the stove and sink – so I decided to create a beverage center and tuck away the office supplies. (We use laptops, so the printer just sits there like a bump on a log until someone needs it anyway!) I had most of the items I needed, but wanted a shelf to organize our teas and a better mug rack, and decided to splurge on one large (size, not price) and one small item of decor for the space. I went over the Hobby Lobby website and narrowed down my options and preferences, came up with a budget, and hit the store. Once I could see everything in person, I made my choices. Everything came together quite nicely – I will post some before and after pictures here soon – and everything was 50% off. For $100, I was able to pull in items that will be perfect for any house we move into as we continue to move; all items that will be useful whether used in the same manner or spread out to various parts of a home based on each floor plan and space. And now we don’t have to drive to IKEA for no real reason other than me wanting to unleash my interior decorator side for a while. 😉
  • Went to a vintage book sale hosted by the Friends of the Library. Budget was $100, we only spent $26 ($36 if you count the $10 I gave my daughter as spending money).
  • Husband used his meal card from the class he’s in for breakfast and lunch all week, eliminating those meals at home, as well as the gas to drive home and back to class.

Frugal Accomplishments – Week Ending 21 January 2018

During the month of January, I’ve been participating in a Pantry Challenge as well as a No Spend Month. These two are somewhat flexible, and I’ve adapted things to our family by cooking from our pantry first, but still purchasing groceries, but avoiding most other purchases and food at restaurants. Since receiving the news of the government shutdown, I’m really glad I participated in these challenges – from the sound of things, my husband’s next paycheck may be quite short, so I guess the challenges will continue into February!

That said, here’s my list of frugal accomplishments for the third week of January – shared thanks to inspiration from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

  • Charged my cell phone with the Goal Zero portable solar panel my folks gave me for Christmas several times this week.
  • Daughter started GED course at the local college; our $50 fee covers her student ID and whatever books she needs, plus she was given a free binder at orientation.
  • Replaced the emergency food in my truck – my son and I split one of the meals previously stored in it for lunch one day.
  • Free fun: everyone watched movies and slept in the living room Friday night as a treat for my son.
  • Rotating our stored drinking water and getting myself off soda again by drinking the bottled water we had on hand.
  • Made a menu plan of dinners from what is already on hand.
  • Used homemade dishwasher detergent for all loads.
  • Placed an order on for cold & flu supplies – applied a $1.25 coupon to a 6-pack of paper towels; bought cough syrup on sale + combined with a purchase of other cold supplies to get extra reward points for spending $25 on cold supplies; used $10 in reward points toward payment; received free shipping for order over $35.
  • Have been drinking herbal iced tea (from bags in food storage) and seltzer (purchased at the commissary, but still less than soda) in addition to plain water to cut my soda intake.
  • Went on a free field trip with our homeschool group.
  • Purchased Girl Scout cookies in bulk (budgeted for when I committed to the purchase from a friend’s girls back in December) and put most of the case in a hidden spot to draw out how long my family can enjoy them.
  • Ate oatmeal six mornings and pistachios for snacks – odd as that may sound, it is my attempt to regulate myself without paying $50 for a special high fiber breakfast supplement I had been drinking last year. The oatmeal was already on hand – some my husband bought, then realized he bought the wrong cut, and stopped eating – and I purchase the pistachios at the farmers market once a month for snacks. Even the banana slices and maple syrup I added to the oatmeal were already in the pantry/fridge; since one container of the shake mix lasts two weeks, I’ve already saved myself $25 for the week (and this fiber plan is *ahem* working fine LOL).
  • Budgeted for husband’s 31 January paycheck and had plans for paying extra on the car principal again – then got the news of the government shutdown. REdid the budget to account for *not* paying extra, but will track how much I would have paid in the hopes of paying it later if his check is short and back pay comes in later.
  • Checked out print books and DVDs at the library, as well as Overdrive e-books. The books and DVDs already watched are by the front door to go back while dropping my daughter at the college, so we won’t miss any return dates. (And the drop box is on the way from town!)
  • Husband made hard “boiled” (baked) eggs in the Sun Oven and we backed a dozen chocolate chip cookies in it from supplies on hand.
  • Dried towels on the drying rack instead of in electric dryer.
  • Used passive solar to warm the house during the day (and blinds/curtains to retain heat at night). Last night we got below freezing outside, but the house stayed 64F and the heat (set at 62F) never came on. Woot!
  • Son went to the neighborhood park with a friend and had a free playdate.
  • Downloaded several free Kindle e-books.
  • Husband found a YouTube channel about ranching hosted by a couple who live in an area we are considering for retirement; we’ve learned a lot about the animals, the machinery, and the area in just one day of viewing various episodes on the channel.
  • Received an envelope of coupons from my mom; took out what we can use and have the rest set aside for a neighbor.
  • My daughter road to a stake dance and to church with neighbors; the dance was the youth winter formal, so she wore a dress that her father bought her for a New Year’s formal during holiday visitation.
  • My husband has been in classes and was given a meal card, so he ate lunches at the mess hall instead of driving home for lunch all week.
  • My daughter carried a snack, sandwich, and water bottle to class instead of asking for fast food on the way home.
  • Bundled up with a blanket, hot cocoa, and the dog on a chilly morning (when I was the only one truly cold due to my health issues) and didn’t turn the heat up!
  • Let a friend with a new baby know about a neighbor giving away part of a box of diapers – no savings for me, but a good savings for her family and it made my heart happy. 😀

Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 14 January 2018

During the month of January, I’m participating in a Pantry Challenge as well as a No Spend Month. These two are somewhat flexible, as participants can adapt the “rules” to their situation, and I’ve done exactly that. However, both have still helped me with my frugal goals so far this month. So here’s my list for last week, shared for this week’s Frugal Accomplishments post at The Prudent Homemaker: Continue reading

2017 Reading List Close-Out

For those who love to read, I’ve closed out my 2017 reading list and will be updating my tab for the new year. If you’d like to peruse what I read last year, here’s the list. If you’d like to peruse my book list from 2016, you can read the four posts sharing those titles at the following links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.

  1. JANUARY: Self-Sufficiency on a Shoestring – Bridgewater
  2. Mayhem at the Orient Express – Logan
  3. The Final Day – Forstchen
  4. Temple Reflections – Gaskill
  5. Vern Yip’s Design Wise – Yip
  6. Living Large in our Little House – Fivecoat-Campbell
  7. Living Without Electricity: Lessons from the Amish – Scott & Pellman
  8. The Urban Homesteading Cookbook – Nelson
  9. Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox – Davis
  10. 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home – Berry
  11. Black Friday – Johnstone
  12. Into the Guns – Dietz
  13. Knitting – Bartlett
  14. The Organized & Efficient House Spouse – Anderson
  15. The Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth – Pientka
  16. Give Your Child the World – Martin
  17. FEBRUARY: The Knitting Diaries – Macomber
  18. Sustainability Starts at Home – Gifford
  19. The Zero-Waste Lifestyle – Korst
  20. Americanah – Adichie
  21. The Latter-day Morning – Bacera
  22. Heat & Light – Haigh
  23. Green Christmas – Sander
  24. SoulSpace – Balbes
  25. Sewing Happiness – Ishida
  26. Plowing with Pigs – Will
  27. Snow Mountain Passage – Houston
  28. These is My Words – Turner
  29. MARCH: The Third Plate – Barber
  30. One Thing at a Time – Glovinsky
  31. Code Word – Abramson
  32. The Year of Living Danishly – Russell
  33. The Guardian – Lund
  34. Obsession – Abramson
  35. Faith – Copeland
  36. The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth – Madsen
  37. The Other Einstein – Benedict
  38. The Non-Toxic Avenger – Duke
  39. Longing for Home – Eden
  40. Hope Springs – Eden
  41. I Quit Sugar – Wilson
  42. Weave of Absence – Martin
  43. Loom and Doom – Martin
  44. The Secret Stitch – Reid
  45. The Eagle Catcher – Coel
  46. APRIL: Women and the Priesthood – Dew
  47. The Ghost Walker – Coel
  48. Sojourn Stitch – Reid
  49. The Modern Natural Dyer – Vejar
  50. June – Copeland
  51. Hope – Copeland
  52. Glory – Copeland
  53. Ruth – Copeland
  54. Freefall – Abramson
  55. The Broken Circle – Potter
  56. Royal Target – Abramson
  57. Her Good Name – Kilpack
  58. MAY: No Idle Hands – MacDonald
  59. Simply Clean – Rapinchuk
  60. Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs – Brown
  61. Song of the Lion – Hillerman
  62. Prepper’s Food Storage – Languille
  63. Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World – McKinley
  64. A Discovery of Witches – Harkness
  65. Shades of Earl Grey – Childs
  66. Lonesome Cowboy – Macomber
  67. Texas Two Step – Macomber
  68. The Fourth Wife – Davis
  69. JUNE: How Starbucks Saved My Life – Gill
  70. Shadow of Night – Harkness
  71. The Book of Life – Harkness
  72. DIY Woven Art – Denbow
  73. Dragonwell Dead – Childs
  74. Knitting Yarns – Hood
  75. Adulting is a Myth – Anderson
  76. The Journal: Martial Law – Moore
  77. The Day After – Baze
  78. Naturally Nourished – Britton
  79. Knitting Scarves from Around the World – Cornell
  80. The Witch’s Daughter – Brackston
  81. The Return of the Witch – Brackston
  82. The Winter Witch – Brackston
  83. Lamp Black, Wolf Grey – Brackston
  84. The Silver Witch – Brackston
  85. Frogs and Kisses – Swendson
  86. The Templar Legacy – Berry
  87. The Alexandria Link – Berry
  88. JULY: You Can Buy Happiness – Strobel
  89. Protecting the Gift – De Becker
  90. Unprocessed – Kimble
  91. A Sensible Arrangement – Peterson
  92. A Moment in Time – Peterson
  93. A Matter of Heart – Peterson
  94. The Chemist – Meyer
  95. Patriot’s Dream – Michaels
  96. Frontier Grit – Monson
  97. Class 11 – Waters
  98. AUGUST: Only Skein Deep – Sefton
  99. Make Your Bed – McRaven
  100. The Journey Home – Winchester
  101. Colors: the Story of Dyes and Pigments – Delamare
  102. Fablehaven – Mull
  103. Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World – Garfield
  104. Caroline’s Child – Macomber
  105. Dr. Texas – Macomber
  106. Murder at Hatfield House – Carmack
  107. The Gospel of Hemp – Archuleta
  108. A Tale of Two Preppers – Gregerson
  109. Locker Nine – Horton
  110. Murder at Westminster Abbey – Carmack
  111. Arthritis-Proof Your Life – Schoffro Cook
  112. Murder in the Queen’s Garden – Carmack
  113. Murder at Fountainebleu – Carmack
  114. Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star – Mull
  115. SEPTEMBER: Janitors – Whitesides
  116. The Borrowed World – Horton
  117. The Rarest Blue – Sterman
  118. Trinity – Fetter-Vorm
  119. The Rally Point – Gregersen
  120. Over the River and Through the Woods – Gregersen
  121. The Journey Home – Winchester
  122. Outage – Barr
  123. When the Power is Gone – Glaspy
  124. Post Grid – Martineau
  125. When the Peace is Gone – Glaspy
  126. Unexpected World – Pike
  127. Uncertain World – Pike
  128. Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague – Mull
  129. Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary – Mull
  130. Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison – Mull
  131. Unknown World – Pike
  132. Unwanted World – Pike
  133. In the Shadow of Denali – Peterson
  134. Darkness Begins – Tate
  135. The Salt Line – Goddard Jones
  136. To Siri With Love – Newman
  137. Surviving the Fall – Kraus
  138. Darkness Grows – Tate
  139. Darkness Rises – Tate
  140. OCTOBER: Chaos Comes – Tate
  141. Chaos Gains – Tate
  142. Talon of God – Snipes
  143. The Journey Home – Motes
  144. The Search – Motes
  145. Gathering Home – Motes
  146. Ghost Fleet – Singer & Cole
  147. Level Up Your Life – Kamb
  148. That One Small Omission – Rose
  149. John Adams – McCullough
  150. Emergency Evacuations – Bedford
  151. The Water Knife – Bacigalupi
  152. NOVEMBER: Land – Shaver
  153. Grace Under Fire – Horton
  154. Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom – Ricks
  155. Of Slippers & Secrets – Twichell
  156. Confessions of a Domestic Failure – Laditan
  157. Money Secrets of the Amish – Craker
  158. Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style – Harris
  159. When the Pain is Gone – Glaspy
  160. Forgotten Ways for Modern Days – Blondel
  161. Pulse – Taylor
  162. Cooking Green – Heyhoe
  163. Void Star – Mason
  164. Sunshine to Dollars – Harris
  165. Surviving the Blackout of 2003 – Harris
  166. Homegrown Sprouts – Galchus
  167. The Indigo Girl – Boyd
  168. Green Sense for the Home – Freed & Daum
  169. Relatively Dead – Connolly
  170. Chaos Evolves – Tate
  171. Be a Hero – Geddes & Rees
  172. Into the Forest – Hegland
  173. The Reversion – Smith
  174. Molôn Labé! – Party
  175. DECEMBER: If We Survive – Klavan
  176. Last Light – Blackstock
  177. Night Light – Blackstock
  178. True Light – Blackstock
  179. Dawn’s Light – Blackstock
  180. 31 Days to Survival – Creekmore
  181. Behold, Darkness and Sorrow – Goodwin
  182. Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook – Layton
  183. Alas, Babylon – Frank
  184. Promised Land – Tarr
  185. Phoenix Rising – Johnstone
  186. Phoenix Rising: Firebase Freedom – Johnstone
  187. Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas – Luther
  188. Thread the Halls – Wait
  189. Survival Notes EMP Preparedness Guide – Hughes
  190. The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution – Romm
  191. Phoenix Rising: Day of Judgement – Johnstone
  192. The Complete 52 Weeks Savings Plan – Bedford
  193. The Scorpio Races – Stiefvater
  194. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow – Townsend
  195. The Complete Book of Prepping Lists – Family Survival Planning
  196. Before the Power was Gone – Glaspy
  197. Preserving Everything – Meredith
  198. A Christmas Return – Perry
  199. Year One – Roberts
  200. The Practical Prepper – Jones

Frugal Accomplishments for the First Week of 2018

Happy New Year, everyone! As you may recall, one of my favorite reads each week is Brandy’s Frugal Accomplishments post on The Prudent Homemaker. I love the sense of community, the many ideas shared by Brandy and her readers, and the inspiration and encouragement I get from each post and comment. I prune things from my to-do list every year, but one constant is reading (and hopefully contributing to) these lists – so I’m sticking with sharing on my end for 2018.

Here’s what my family accomplished the first week of January, 2018:

Saved $23 household supplies at Target – Using Cartwheel app we Continue reading