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

An Unexpected Benefit of Portable Solar

As I’ve mentioned several times on Frugal Accomplishments posts, my husband and I received Goal Zero solar panels for Christmas from my folks. These nifty little portable solar panels, called the Nomad 7, are meant to be small and lightweight so you can tuck them into a pack for outdoor activities. Each of our Nomad 7’s fold up to be the size of a tablet device and they are meant to charge small devices like cell phones, tablets, and the like. While we’re very, very happy with how the Nomad 7 chargers work out for us, we’ve noticed something: they do not charge a smart phone with any speed. Want to use the “fast charge” setting on your device? Better plug it into the wall. Depending on how low our batteries are, it could take several hours to charge our phones, even in direct sunlight.

But you know what I’ve found? Continue reading

Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 11 February 2018

Y’all, I am SO EXCITED to share our frugal accomplishments for last week! I know a lot of them will look a little silly to those who don’t know me personally, but suffice it to say I had a grand time playing around with some new apps and look forward to using them to save. Without further ado, here’s my contribution to Frugal Accomplishments for the week, hosted by the lovely Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker! Before we begin – just a quick note that this post contains affiliate links. They are clearly defined as affiliate links (in bold, even). No pressure – but if you use one, I’ll sure be grateful to you!

  • Used a museum membership to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (this time we walked the opposite of our route from our first trip, so we got to see the animals we didn’t see the first time!)
  • Mailed the documents to my daughter’s father for reimbursement of orthodontia and oral surgery. Hopefully all of that sum will be back by summer time.
  • Checked out books and DVDs at the libraries and used Overdrive to read e-books.
  • Noticed two library books in daughter’s room – I checked the checkout slip and they were due within the next day, so I returned them for her while in town so she wouldn’t get overdue fees.
  • Went to check out a locally owned shop for a baby gift and received a military discount on my purchases.
  • Signed up for Amazon Prime after discussion with husband about possible benefits; he has watched several shows he wanted to see using it and I have made two purchases and received “free” shipping. (Pre-paid is more how I think of it, but either way, it’s useful.)
  • Received coupons from my mom – took what we will use and shared the rest with a friend.
  • Received magazines in the same box – read through them and then passed them on to my friend to enjoy as well.
  • Went to purchase DayQuil at the base store; the generic was $3.49 per box while actual DayQuil was $7.99 a box. I bought two generics instead of one name-brand box and now my flu supplies are stocked up. (I couldn’t order DayQuil or NyQuil through the Walgreens website recently). Paid no tax due to being on base.
  • I’ve been looking for a better First Aid kit bag for my truck after using it recently and having things fall out – my husband got an email from Tactical Tailor for 50% off, but the bag they offered was still over $100. Researching further, I found a bag from Voodoo Tactical (another company I trust) for much less on Amazon – so I was able to use a leftover gift card balance to purchase that bag and a set of EMT shears & pupil light for no out of pocket payment. (One of my two “free” shipping purchases.)
  • Sent my InboxDollars referral code to two friends; downloaded the InboxDollars app and got some “Spin & Win” opportunities since I didn’t qualify for some paid surveys. Earned a nickel on a Spin & Win. Learned to follow the InboxDollars Facebook page to watch for extra earnings codes. [If you are interested in joining InboxDollars and would like to help me earn a bit as well, click here for my affiliate link.]
  • Signed up for Ibotta using a friend’s referral link, which created a $10 bonus offer for me (when I meet a certain minimum); downloaded the app, and started learning how to load my favorite stores and choose offers. True confession: I spent a good couple of hours geeking out on these two apps this weekend! Plus I kept texting my girlfriends about offers and things they might want to look up – I’m sure I drove everyone crazy, but I thought it was really fun! Then I made my first purchase and earned $0.70 cents back – I needed to restock a supplement and there was an Amazon offer on health and beauty items. I probably still look really strange trying to figure out some of these smart phone things (picture the most confused person you know staring at a device and tapping with one finger – they look cooler than me, I bet haha), but I got it figured out – and then I celebrated my seventy cent refund! Plus free shipping – that was the second Prime purchase. (Too bad I didn’t know to sign up for Prime FROM the ibotta app – that would have been a good rebate offer too!) [If you are interested in joining Ibotta and would like to help me earn a bit as well, click here for my affiliate code. You should see a message about a $10 bonus option like I did.]
  • Filed our federal income tax return using the FreeFile option; found out we don’t need to file a state income tax return due to active duty status. We will be receiving a refund, so we agreed again on the plan for the bulk of it (paying a large principal payment on my husband’s car, our only debt) and discussed using the rest to pick up some items on our “want” shopping list.
  • Received 3 free magazine downloads on Kindle Unlimited.
  • Pulled books from my shelves and our homeschool books to take to the local bookshop with my kids’ items – anything the owner is interested in will be store credit, helping her build inventory and helping us offset costs for books and gifts in the future.
  • Filled the car and the truck with $1 off per gallon fuel points.
  • Ate leftovers from dinners as lunches; daughter packed lunches and snacks for school most days and used some of her own babysitting cash for lunch one day.
  • Researched Coupons.com and found out they have an app – I’m going to look into using that instead of printing coupons at home, in order to save on ink.
  • Used drying racks for most loads of laundry; I had a large load for my husband’s and my laundry so I took the heaviest/largest items and put them in the dryer (with wool dryer balls, which help cut drying time) and dried the rest of the load on rack. Normally I’d put the heavy items on our second rack, but I don’t have pins that will fit over the larger diameter rods, and it was too windy to just lay things over them like I usually do. (Needless to say, some larger clamps of some sort are on the “want to buy” list! LOL)
  • Used homemade dishwasher soap in each load of dishes.
  • Charged our phones on the Goal Zero chargers whenever possible.
  • Did NOT attend a convention over the weekend that we had discussed going to. Even with the military discount they offered, we’d have been at $40 for the family to go. We used our museum membership (mentioned above) to have a prepaid outing instead.
  • Read e-books via Kindle Unlimited (still on free trial).
  • Cooked most meals at home from the pantry; made menu plan for this week’s dinners based on what was already on hand. I am specifically using up some canned soup and chili that my husband didn’t care for and told me to donate – I figure if I split them between all four of us and cook them with other items, we won’t mind the flavor as much (and the kids and I haven’t even tried them yet – we might actually like them). Tonight’s plan is chili dogs – I figure with a piece of bread, a hot dog, and some shredded cheese, the little bit of chili actually going on them can’t be all bad. Wish me luck with that plan….. 😉