Personal Challenges for March 2018

I’ve decided I’ll be doing three personal challenges this month: another No Spend Month; another Pantry Challenge; and the 31 Bags in 31 Days challenge. All three of these will be adapted a bit for my needs and my family situation, but I’m sure they’ll still help bunches.

My friend E. and I made the decision back in January to make March a No Spend Month, during a discussion about the government shutdown and how it affects both of our families. I was super excited to get a message from her recently that her “other half” is on board and excited to do the NSM challenge as well. I speak from experience when I say that it’s HUGE when everyone in the household (or at least all those with access to the money) is a willing participant. So here’s to saving some serious cash in March! My rules are as follows: Continue reading

Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 25 Feb 2018:

We had a pretty full week – accomplished quite a bit and even did it frugally. I’m so sad that Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker might not have a post up this week, per her Facebook post about computer troubles, but I’m excited to share what we were able to do so I’ll keep on keepin’ on until she’s up and running again. Hopefully that is VERY soon!

Here’s how our week went – feel free to share your news in the comments too! Continue reading

Ways to Reuse Food Storage Cans

A recurring question that pops up whenever folks see that I really use my long term food storage items  is, “What do you do with the cans?”  Well, the easiest thing is to just recycle them – and we’ve done that plenty, rinsing them out and putting them in the recycle bin. There are, however, plenty of ways for frugal or crafty folks to reuse/repurpose them first.

Here are just a few of the ideas bouncing around in my brain these days for reusing #2 and #10 food storage containers:

  • Pencil/brush caddy for the craft table or desk – cover with children’s drawings, wall paper samples, sponge paint, decoupage, etc.
  • Make a “tin man” for the garden with various sizes of cans (bulk and standard shelf cans)
  • Carry feed to small livestock – punch holes in the sides and you can even add a wire, twine or paracord carrying handle.  Keep the lid handy to keep pests out.
  • Place behind a chair and let kids play a clothespin drop game
  • Decorate and use as planters for a windowsill herb garden (don’t forget drainage holes in the bottom – stick the plastic lid on the bottom as a drip catcher!)

Remember that tin cans can have sharp edges, so always make filing off sharp points a step in your repurposing adventures!

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 18 Feb 2018

Can you believe we’re already more than halfway through the month? I kind of like February – it’s short and sweet, particularly due to the discounted Valentine’s candy that crops up this time of the month! Speaking of which – we of course celebrated “Half Price Chocolate Day” instead of Valentine’s Day, but we also did something for Valentine’s Day that I think you frugalistas will appreciate. So read on! When you’re done here, be sure to check in with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for more inspiration and frugal encouragement.

  • EDIT: Right after posting this, I got an email from a different hotel (we used two chains during our move south) stating that I had points I could use from them as well. In addition to what’s noted below, I was able to get two more magazine subscriptions to share with my mom, as well as a $10 Starbucks gift card. Woohoo!
  • Reading Radical Frugality on Kindle Unlimited.
  • Shared my Ibotta and InboxDollars links in a blog post and via text to several friends.
  • Added stores to Ibotta so I will (hopefully!) remember to look for offers there if we need to do any shopping at those stores.
  • Signed up for Swagbucks and started learning how to use it.
  • Valentine’s Day – husband made an extra principal payment on his car, our gift to each other. Now that’s love, huh? 😀
  • Watched a free PBS “Two Cents” video on college majors with my son.
  • Worked on my portfolio page (click on the tab up top to see it!) and started gathering current submission information for publications I’d like to contribute work to this year.
  • Husband used meal card for breakfast and lunches at class; daughter carried food and water bottle from home to school.
  • Heated soup from pantry and split a can of chili to make chili dogs as mentioned last week – both worked out much better than expected for meals.
  • Did my parents’ taxes – saved them several hundred dollars in tax prep fees.
  • Used the drying rack (indoors since we were actually getting some rain – YAY!)
  • Kept an eye out on the Facebook pages of InboxDollars and Swagbucks; I was able to get several InboxDollars “WinIt” codes as well as the daily Swagbucks codes.
  • Went to Tractor Supply; found out they carry the dog food we buy. It was several dollars less than I paid at the other feed store (which was within pennies of PetSmart) – so next time I need to restock, I will be able to compare their price as well!
  • Cut the dog’s toenails myself.
  • Bought most of our groceries at Target, after using my grocery list to select manufacturer coupons, figure out Target sales, then load Target Cartwheel discounts and Ibotta rebates. Total savings at Target: $42.13; total Ibotta rebate: $4.75 ($2.75 rebate + $2 bonus for my first in-store redemption), plus lower sales tax vs commissary surcharge.
  • Bought the last of the groceries at the commissary; received an Ibotta rebate of $1.
  • Used homemade dishwasher detergent.
  • Borrowed DVDs and Overdrive e-books from libraries.
  • Purchased pizza out, with a coupon and husband picked up carryout (saving delivery fee and tip).
  • Found a dime and gave it to my son for his savings account.
  • Listed homeschool curriculum for sale in the base homeschool group; also researched how to sell it to a homeschool company for their used books section if it doesn’t sell locally. (If anyone is interested, it is Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum [PAC] Biology, Natural Science Mysteries, and English Grammar Skills.)
  • Received a statement from a hotel chain that we can use our points (from our move last year) for a free magazine subscription – I chose two magazines that are not stocked at my local libraries and that both my mom and I used to subscribe to, but no longer do. After I get each issue, I can send them in care packages to my folks and they will enjoy flipping through them as well.
  • Received an email that we will be getting a utility rebate for our January bill; now I know to watch for that deposit and have already allotted it to another principal payment for the car. (My goal is to pay off the car on or before 1 Feb 2019.)
  • Used personal cloth for the bathroom.

Preparing with Pets: Muzzle Training for Emergencies

In my mind, basic obedience training is absolutely vital for dog owners.  Sit, down, stay, and the like are often taught to pets – but what about muzzle training?  Not many people train their dog to willingly accept wearing a muzzle.  That can mean that the first time an animal has to be muzzled for safety reasons, they panic.  Can you blame them?  I would certainly panic if someone wrapped something around my mouth and nose, holding my mouth closed and even slightly limiting my breathing!

Knowing this, and also knowing that muzzling an injured dog is vital for the protection of those humans transporting and/or providing emergency treatment, we made the decision to begin muzzle training Violet.  Now, to be VERY clear, Violet is not forced into the muzzle.  She is also not left muzzled for any longer than her desensitizing training takes place.  She is muzzled for training only, praised and handled calmly the entire time, and rewarded immediately after removal of the muzzle.  She is clearly uncomfortable with the muzzle on, but is willing to wear it for longer and longer (measured in seconds) each session.

I discussed my planned method of training with our veterinarian, who approved wholeheartedly and appreciated the effort.  If you consider muzzle training, please take the time to discuss it with your vet so they can make you aware of any concerns for your pet(s) based off of breed, such as length of snout and nose v. breathing concerns.  Lastly, NEVER leave your dog muzzled at length in hot weather.  Panting is their natural method of cooling themselves and you risk creating dangerous overheating if leaving them muzzled inappropriately.

That said, here’s how I began muzzle training our dog: Continue reading